In many aspects of life, we often work much harder than needed and overlook great opportunities lying at our doorstep. The same holds true for link development. Existing links are often just taken for granted and are not delivering their full potential. Besides the obvious link value, they are also an invaluable source of referral links from other sites.
Part of the reason they are often overlooked is people fall into the notion that more is better. "If I can just get more links, I can break into the top ten." While in reality, the "right" links will get your site into the top ten much quicker. In the rush for "more" links people take their current links for granted.
Current links can often be fine tuned to provide better link value and exposure. An added benefit to this approach is often, these links are from older, trusted sites that have a high-level reputation in search engines to pass onto your site.
However, this technique benefits sites that have been around for a number of years more than newer sites. Older sites have worked hard, promoted themselves, and earned a reputation over time. This is their opportunity to take advantage of those years of hard work.
The first thing to do is to find your current backlinks. Keep in mind, no search engine will give you an accurate list. Not even the all-powerful Google. Sage Lewis wrote a column last week on on finding your backlinks.
When you find a quality site in your backlinks, examine how it is linking to your site. It would be fairly easy to send the Webmaster an email asking him/her to add your keywords to the anchor text, yet that would not be taking full advantage of the opportunity at hand. Plus, it's likely the email will just be deleted. After all, what's in it for the Webmaster?
Instead, try approaching it from a relationship-building standpoint. There may be opportunities to contribute articles, sponsor a project, or help that site with promotions. Perhaps it wants to expand a section on the site, and your copywriter has downtime you can provide. The site maybe looking to do a research project, and you have access to the resources to make it happen. Explore the different ways you might benefit the site and its users. This is really the key to building a successful, long-term relationship with other sites.
Once you have established that relationship, here are some tips to enhance your current backlinks and create a better link profile for your site. Keep in mind, it is not just links to your site, but also how natural and editorial those links appear. Search engines are getting very good at giving more value to true editorial links, while devaluing other links.
- Vary your anchor text.
- Get deep links to multiple sub-pages of your site.
- Get links from within the content of the target site.
- Get links from several different pages of the target site.
- Get placement that will encourage click-throughs.
We all know the high value of referrals. They can open doors to opportunities one would not ordinarily have access to and to remarkable sales leads. Many of the sites currently linking to your site likely work with other Webmasters in the same niche, or they may operate other sites themselves. Since these sites are already linking to your site and you have developed a relationship, ask for a referral. Ask the simple question of, Do you know other Webmasters who could help promote my site?
The results can be astonishing. On numerous occasions, I have found someone running a hobby site who also works for a national association or publication for that industry. Other site owners I have worked with over time have gone on to become writers for major industry publications. The key is to start building those relationships. Great link development is merely good marketing and sales tactics.
When approaching link development, remember those opportunities sitting at your doorstep. While they probably are not the latest SEO rage, they can be highly fruitful and lead to even better opportunities. Find out who the people are that currently link to your site, and develop those relationships just as you would in every other aspect of your business. The results might just surprise you, and your competition, with your new rankings.
For those who work in the travel industry, I will be speaking on Online PR and Reputation Management With Link Love at SES Travel Edition in Seattle July 26th and 27th. There are still discounted conference passes available until July 20th.
Meet Your Favorite Search Engine Watch Contributors
Many of SEW's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Thom Craver, Josh Braaten, Lisa Barone, Simon Heseltine, Josh McCoy, Lisa Raehsler, Greg Jarboe, Dan Cristo, Joseph Kerschbaum, John Gagnon, Eric Enge and more!