I had the good fortune of sitting in on Debra Mastaler's link building presentation at SES Chicago last week. Mastaler is commonly regarded as one of the primary thought leaders in link building. Her presentation didn't disappoint.
The presentation on link building basics was a guided tour, starting at the beginning of a link building campaign. She offered an array of link building concepts and tools that ended in quite sophisticated approaches.
It was a session jam-packed with interesting tips, tools, and concepts that gave the audience a lot to consider.
Let's focus on three particularly valuable tips that really jumped out at me. These are things that aren't always implemented when building links, but should be.
Tip 1: Diversity, Balance of Links are Key
You get in a rut so often when building links. Maybe you submit to directories all the time. Or maybe you're trying to get press releases submitted. Or possibly you use comments in blogs to get links.
Mastaler said to do all of these things. The engines continually look at the types of links you have. If your links are all of one particular type, it's likely to throw up a flag of suspicion, so vary the kinds of links you have.
Tip 2: Use Alert Services
This was a particularly interesting tip. While I use alerts from Google and Twitter, I hadn't looked into the other services she recommended. These kinds of services can be used for tracking changes on your competition's sites and also to keep an eye on the journalism field to see what topics in your target industry are being written about.
Being aware of the changes in your industry and your competitors can help you pick up potential link building opportunities. These will give you clues to what you might consider writing about to garner more links to your site.
Tip 3: Create a "Link to us" Page
People need to be guided directly into action. Creating a page like this can help guide people through what you want them to do for you.
For example, if I make a video about someone's company or product, ask them to put a link to the video somewhere on their site. They almost always are happy to do it. But if you don't ask, then they don't do it. It probably just doesn't occur to them.
Mastaler suggested that you let your vendors and clients know about this page. You might also offer an incentive for linking to you. She said that even something small, like a T-shirt, can often be incentive enough for people to link to you.
There were so many good tips. I just simply couldn't end at three. Here's one more.
Bonus Tip: Fix Crawl Errors
Go through Google Webmaster Tools and look at links that are pointing to 404 pages. This is potentially a huge opportunity to get links that you already had.
First, be sure that you have your site listed in the Google Webmaster Tools program. You can find a ton of data about your site within this area.
Then go through the tools and look for pages that no longer exist on your site. This can be found in the "Crawl Errors" section of Webmaster Tools. It will show you which sites are linking to these pages.
You can then either put the page back up or you can contact the person who gave you the link and ask them to change the link to a page that actually exists on your site.
These links are yours for the taking.
If you ever get the chance to hear Mastaler speak, I highly recommend you take the opportunity to do so. She is a wealth of link building information.