I’m often asked by new website owners how they should go about getting links to their site as they have heard getting links is important to help get search engines rankings. Yes that is certainly true but it is important to understand a few points before you go link building.
One thing I’d like to clarify before we start is to get links to individual pages on your site – don’t have them all point to the home page. If you have pages of good content then promote them individually by getting appropriate backlinks to them!
Not All Links are Equal (Some are ‘more equal’ than others):
Links with the noFollow attribute are next to useless for SEO purposes, these are commonly used in blog comment areas and discussion forums. The noFollow attribute tells Google to ignore the link. Now having said that they can still get visitors to your site and some of those visitors just might link to your site if they find it linkworthy.
Links from established popular and trusted sites are more powerful than links from a new website or blog. One good powerful link can outweigh hundreds of mediocre ones.
If you have the Google Toolbar installed you can see the current Google Pagerank of the page you are viewing, it gives a very broad indication of whether a link from that page might be juicy. The more links from that page the less juice is passed on any one link.
Links from sites that are relevant to the keyword you are trying to get ranked for, maybe even already ranking for it themselves, are much juicier than links from unrelated sites.
Links that are made of the keyword you are targeting and/or variations of it as the anchor text (clickable text) are better than links that just use your site name as the anchor text.
Links that lead directly to the page on your site that is focused on the keyword you are trying to rank for are better than those leading to your homepage.
Now with an understanding of those basics – don’t stress on only getting links that comply with all of the above! Why? Because SE’s prefer your backlink profile to look natural and that means having a mix of links, including noFollow ones and links that just use your URL or your name instead of keyword anchor text!
Have Great Content – Yawn!
Yeah, I know but practice demands I have to say it. You’ll find the line trotted out time and again. The idea is that by having great content, other websites will find it and choose to link to it in droves, bringing you link popularity beyond your dreams. That is not quite true, yes you should have great content that is actually useful to those who see it and helps to sell your wares but you need to promote it to attract links to it!
How can you promote it? Well you could:
- Mention it and link to it in your Twitter and Facebook accounts
- You could do the same in relevant forums and blogs that allow comments and links to articles.
- You could bookmark it at the social bookmark sites like Digg and Stumbleupon.
- You could mention it in email signatures.
- Maybe draw up a shorter version of it and publish it on article sites like Ezinearticles or GoArticles (with a link to the main article of course).
- Got a Blogger or WordPress.com blog happening? Blog it.
- Got a Linkedin profile? Mention it there too.
- Do all those things or a mix of them every time you add new content to your site.
Following on from the earlier comment, getting links from sites related to your niche can be very worthwhile. If you sell a product or service see if you can get links from your suppliers and industry associations. Are there registers of your particular profession you can get links from?
Sometimes you can think a little outside the box and maybe link from a blog to a competitor in another city in return for a link back to your site, or maybe swap links with a related website that does not compete directly with you. Please understand however that wholesale link-swapping i.e. the old reciprocal links page strategy is not recommended. Much better to give (and receive) genuine editorial type links as mentions in an article or blog entry.
Check out your competitors backlinks! If there are good sites linking to your competitor, maybe they will consider linking to you too if you have good content. How can you see who links to your competitors? There are various tools to help with this but a simple check for backlinks to any domain can be done by entering “http://www.opensiteexplorer.org/domains?site=http://www.somedomain.com.au” into your browsers location bar as if you were navigating to a website (remember to drop the quote marks and substitute the somedomain.com.au bits with the domain you are checking on). This will bring you to the Open Site Explorer where you can get lots of backlink information.
Watch out for a message on the result page that looks like” Oh Hey!! It looks like that URL redirects to somewhere.com. Would you like to see data for that URL instead? If given the choice take it, it usually means the webmaster of the target site has set a preference for whether his site displays with the ‘www’ bit in the address.
Another possible source of relevant links might be in prominent industry blogs? Can you get a chance to write a guest post (in return for a link to your site of course)? Maybe the blogger can be enticed to interview you on some topic of expertise (and link to your site of course)? Maybe they can review your product or service?
One way to discover related sites to try to get links from is to set up a Google Alert for your keywords. Have it send emails or add the feed to your iGoogle page or RSS reader to see what sites crop up daily and see if you can add to the discussions (with a link to your own site of course).
Are there specialist directory or resource sites for your industry? Submit your site! Niche specific directories can be good links to get, more powerful than general all purpose ones.
How about clients? Maybe get a testimonial with a link to your site from theirs in return for a discount?
How about a funny article on your industry or a top 20 list on something to do with your industry or a good how-to article or series of articles appropriate to your industry? Even competitors will often link to these kinds of articles if it is particularly useful or funny.
Non Related Websites
Even though they are not related to your industry getting a link from media sites like newspaper and radio sites can be useful as they usually have a high trustrank. Trustrank is the concept that some sites are trusted to be spam free e.g. government sites and quality editorial sites. The nearer you are to them (in link hops from them to you) the more your own site inherits a little of that trust factor.
General Directories – Yahoo, Hotfrog, and so many more. By all means get some directory links, they will at least add to the diversity and number of domains linking to your site but most general directories have little link juice these days.
Article Directories – If you can write reasonably well on your topic, why not write some articles for publication and distribution on sites like ezinearticles.com, goarticles.com, buzzle.com and articlesbase.com. There are a truckload of these article directories out there but just getting into a few of the good ones can be a small help. I say small as like with blog comments, these sites tend to turn over content quickly and it won’t be long before your article is in a hard to find archive.
Submitting new articles frequently can help overcome that and help to establish you as an authoritative writer on your subject. Linking to your published articles from other article directories can help to keep them live and more worthwhile as ongoing link sources however!
The real goal with these article sites is to have the article picked up and published by sites actually related to your niche thus increasing your backlink diversity. Sometimes the RSS feeds from these sites are picked up and re-published in sites actually related to your site so the backlink power can be more than just that from the article site itself.
Social Media Sites – are a bit like the article directories but more ‘modern’ and indeed often more flexible and powerful as link sources too. Big networks like squidoo.com, hubpages.com, wetpaint.com and weebly.com all allow users to build webpages easily and you can include pictures, videos, interactive polls, guestbooks and various other web 2.0 style improvements over the older style article directories.
It is absolutely possible to build your articles and social media pages up to quite high pagerank scores by linking to them from other articles and participating actively in the social sides of the networks.
Got a blog section on your site? Have you added the RSS feed to the various RSS distributors like feedage.com and feedagg.com?
Write press releases when it make sense to do so and include a link to your site for distribution on the PR websites.
Got some useful tips or sources of backlinks? Leave a comment!