Putting together a strategy for get links to a site is one of the hardest parts of SEO. Too many people jump right in to trying to get people to link to their site, when they should be taking the time to lay the proper groundwork in place to have a link worthy site. Here are 9 quick tips on how to approach the task:
- Understand the anatomy of getting a link - Since we shy away from buying links, or pursing link swaps, you are left with the task of getting someone to provide you with a one way link. I.e. getting something from them, and providing nothing in return. Or is that true? Not really. What you end up giving out, is your expertise and knowledge. This can be embedded in articles, tools, or special promotions. People who care about their visitors will link to good content, and this ends up being a fair trade. It also gets you links that are unassailable in the eyes of the search engines, and it's the best way to get links from authoritative web sites.
- Understand your target audience - Who are your prospective customers? What type of content would they like to see on a site like yours? Since relevant links count most, answering this question is a big key to success.
- Develop a map of the places where you are going to get links - Blogs, magazines, trade organizations, industry associations, distributors, resellers, colleges and universities, government sites, ...? Be creative in coming up with ideas. A potential target for linking to you is ANY site which is related to your site's content, or that can reasonably publish an article related to your business. For example, if you run a sailing web site for the Massachusetts area, Boston.com is a great target. They could certainly run an article about sailing in the Boston area, and if they cover your site as a resource, you get a great link.
- Develop a content plan for your site - Now that you know your audience, and where you are going to get links from, come up with a plan for the great content that you are going to put on your site. To succeed, you need to put things of value out there. People will not link to you to help you make money. But they will link to you if your content, or tools, or promotions provide a truly unique value to the visitors to their site.
- Develop a content syndication plan - Here you can broaden your thinking even further. The concept here is to write high quality articles and give them to other web sites for placement on those sites. You only do this type of work to get very high quality links. But you can get some awesome links this way.
- Consider social media sites - While these are great sources of huge spikes in traffic, the traffic is not always of the best quality (although this varies from site to site). The big win is in the links you get out of it. A really well structured campaign can bring you lots of links, and in some cases, high quality links, including links from traditional media sites. To do this well, you need to really understand the audience on the social media site you are targeting. You will need to develop content that targets that audience, while keeping it related to the theme of your site.
- Implement a PR campaign - This is much, much more than simply sending out press releases. You need to have a plan to reach out to traditional media and bloggers as a follow up to your press releases. Unless you have lots of contacts and a great reputation with the media in your space, our recommendation is that you do this with the help of a PR agency, and leverage their contacts.
- Understand the investment cost - All of this takes resources. In particular, developing content on an ongoing basis, building relationships with related sites, syndicating content, pursuing social media sites, PR campaigns, ... It's a lot of work. Make sure you build into your plan the resources to execute your plan.
- Be in it for the long haul - Link building is not a start up activity, it's a permanent one. It is an ongoing cost to your business that never goes away.