Link Building Tactics 101, Part 1

Several readers have asked me to expand on my “Link Building 101” column, which focused on the fundamentals of how linking works and why it’s important, and to discuss the various tactics for managing a link building campaign.

Link building is widely considered one of the most important elements to obtaining high rankings in the major search engines. It also involves ongoing effort and a long-term strategy to ensure a Web site continues enjoying success in organic search results. This two-part article will explore several ideas on building quality links to your site.

Contextual Link Building

While the quantity of inbound links is important, the quality of those links is much more important. Links from sites that are topically or contextually related to your site carry much more weight than links from unrelated sites.

In addition, links from sites that are considered authorities for a specific topic (i.e., they rank highly in organic search results for a given topic) are of much higher value than those from unpopular or obscure sites. The principle of focusing on quality links from contextually related sites is known as contextual link building, and this principle should form the foundation of your link building strategy.

Contextual link building is a stable and ethical way to build links. Additionally, you’ll likely have a higher conversion rate from this targeted traffic, because the links from contextual sites are relevant to the content on your site. Visitors from these related sites will already be in the right mindset to review what you have to offer, which makes for easier conversions.

Links from Public Relations Activities

One of the most productive link building strategies a company should explore is leveraging public relations activities that could result in relevant inbound links. Writing a press release and submitting it to places like PRWeb or Web Wire is a great way to generate links back to your Web site. Whether you or your PR firm writes the press release, it’s important that you include your targeted keywords with links back to relevant pages on your site.

Another way to engage local PR resources is by developing relationships with local newspaper writers. Always make yourself available for comments on news stories that involve your industry or business. This helps build awareness and is a great way to gain links to your Web site.

Local Organizations

Look up local organizations that you can join, such as a chamber of commerce. Joining a local organization will net you very good links to your Web site, and may provide networking opportunities with other local businesses.

You may even be able to generate new leads, and maybe links, by getting to know other local companies and partnering with them. Also, you may be able to identify local online business directories you can submit your Web site to.

The key is seeking out local directories and directories that are specific to your business. Submit to these first and take your time filling out all of the information that they ask for. These will be some of your most valuable links, because they’re so relevant to your Web site and business.

Help A Nonprofit Organization

Nonprofit groups would welcome your help with open arms, especially in today’s economy. Offer your time and professional services. If you offer of yourself and your services freely, it isn’t unprofessional to ask for, and receive, a link to your Web site from theirs.

Provide Something of Value

Other ways to gain quality inbound links to your Web site include offering valuable information on something that an end-user finds useful, (e.g., a map to or from a destination), a tool (e.g., a mortgage calculator), or even a coupon or shopping tips. This is the way the search engines want back links to occur — a visitor to your Web site finds something useful and creates their own link to it.

We’ll explore these and other ideas in part two. Please share any useful link building tactics you’ve found in the comments below.

Join us for Search Engine Strategies San Jose, August 10-14, 2009, at the McEnery Convention Center.

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