Links are important. They are the SEO fuel for your website that help increase traffic and ROI for your business.
If you are feeling a little lost on how your business can improve its link building strategies, one of my favorite reads, Search Engine Watch outlined 131Â techniques that will get your business’s SEO engine running.
I’ve picked my top 40 from their expansive list, but if you’d like to see all 131 you can read the entire article, 131 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies, on Search Engine Watch.
Start with the Basics
I selected just about all of Search Engine Watch’s basics because the basics don’t tend to change and it is important to have a solid foundation upon which to move on to more advanced and creative techniques.
1. Email or call a webmaster, asking for a link to your site. If emailing, personalizing your message (think about how many emails you get every day) so make sure you’re actually emailing webmasters who have sites that are relevant to yours, and, even more importantly, make sure that your site is actually link-worthy. We’re all busy people and no one wants to waste time so if it’s not a good place for a link to you, don’t waste anyone’s time.
2. Use social media to find great sources for links. There are loads of tools that can help with this (my favorite is Icerocket) but simply going to Twitter and searching for a keyword in the same way that you search through an engine’s results can show you some fantastic link opportunities.
3. Know what makes a site a good linking partner. If you’ve been building links for a long time, you can probably easily glance at a site and, in under a minute, determine whether it would be a beneficial linking partner. However, for the rest of the world, it’s not so easy. Know what makes me like a site more than anything else? Social love. If I see a blog post that is relevant to my topic, has ongoing relevant comments, a decent amount of tweets/likes/shares, that’s a good site to me because I’m thinking about traffic.
4. Stop thinking about rankings and Google’s Toolbar PageRank. Rankings definitely matter but considering the amount of places that can send you traffic (like social media sites, sites that link to you, sites where you guest post, etc.) it’s silly to rely on rankings in one engine. Stop thinking that a link from a site with a PR of 0 won’t help you, and that a link from a site with a PR of 5 definitely will.
5. Check to see what your competitors are doing. While this should never be a definitive way to define your own link plan, it’s valuable to see what works for others in your niche. Just don’t think that you can mimic a competitor’s link profile and do as well as they have. It’s definitely not that simple.
6. Check out the sites that link to you and find the sites they link to. Sounds convoluted, but it’s a great way to figure out other good sites to contact.
7. If you get a link from a fantastic site that is exactly the type of site you want to link to you, after congratulating yourself on this achievement, do some digging and find out who else links to that site. Those may also be good sites to contact for links.
8. Search for sites that should link to you but don’t. If you find a blog post entitled “Top 100 companies that sell green widgets” and you sell green widgets but aren’t listed, contact the webmaster and point this out. Nicely, of course.
9. Don’t automate! There are times when automation can be a lifesaver but when it comes to reviewing a site and making a personal connection that leads to a link, I’d make the decision to do it all manually.
10. Sponsor something. Sponsor a charity, a contest, an afterschool club at your kid’s school, anything.
Become a Content Provider
Google loves content, if you aren’t generating regular content, you stand little chance of acquiring links. People use the web to gather information, and if you aren’t giving it to them, someone else surely will … your competitors.
11. Write something even if you’re not yet very good at it. The more you practice, the better you’ll be.
12. Think about an ongoing content plan and write so that it’s easy to write a follow-up piece. Series are great, regular guest post slots are great, and knowing what your “thing” is can definitely be great.
13. Produce something other than just textual content. Do an infographic or create a comic. Produce videos where you do things like interview people in your industry. Start a weekly online radio show. That kind of non-text-based content does get links.
14. Actively pursue new opportunities for contributing to your industry. Maybe you can moderate a forum or help curate a weekly newsletter. Maybe you can provide fantastic answers on Quora.
15. Find something that’s missing and jump into giving it to us. No forum for your industry? Start one. Looking for a list of all the preschools in your town but can’t find one? Do the research, write it, and put it out there for everyone to see and link to.
16. Do one major article that will become the definitive resource for something and that can be (and will be) updated on a semi-annual or annual basis.
17. Produce a monthly “best of” series to recap what’s happened in your industry in case people missed something.
18. Reference your older articles when they’re relevant.
Leave Your Links Everywhere
Links can be a calling card if used wisely. You want as many eyeballs as possible on your product.
19. Link to your site in your email signature.
20. Link to your site in all your social media platforms.
21. Link to your site on your business cards that you will naturally give out at industry events.
22. Tell people about your site. You’d be surprised at how much of a resource this can be.
23. Comment on relevant blogs and sites without doing so in a spammy manner. I wouldn’t suggest popping your link into a casual comment because that’s not a good way to build long-term link exposure, but using your site for your comment signature can lead people to you, even if it doesn’t actually generate a link on the spot.
24. As mentioned earlier, guest post. Ask to guest post. Approach sites and say hey, would you be interested in having me as a one-time contributor? Be prepared with something though, in case you’re asked for an idea or a writing sample.
25. Interview someone. Interviewees usually link back to these interviews, and they’re a great way to get to know people in your industry.
26. Write a testimonial or a review of a product.
27. Leave reviews for local businesses you’ve visited on sites like Yelp.
28. Give feedback online through social media. If you like an article, tweet that to the writer. If you had a great hotel stay, put it on their Facebook page.
Be Creative and Visible
There’s so much information out there that if you aren’t presenting a unique experience, you’re going to fall behind. If you aren’t drawing attention to your work, people aren’t going to see it.
29. Rewrite an old post in order to update the ideas.
30. Include images in what you write. Sometimes your image will stick in someone’s mind longer than your words will.
31. Participate in forums. Ask and answer questions. You can make amazing contacts this way.
32. Crowdsource ideas and feedback when you need them. I’ve met very few people who don’t enjoy being asked their opinion.
33. Speak at a conference! This is one of the ultimate ways to get noticed, and you can get a great link off the website of the people putting on the show. Your name will also be in the conference materials.
Especially For B2B Sites
34. If you have a relationship with a supplier, don’t be afraid to link out and get a link back. While reciprocal links can be excessively spammy, if it makes sense, it isn’t always bad.
35. Simply ask your partners to link to you.
36. Showcase a partner each month on your company’s blog or in a newsletter and ask the partner to promote this through his or her own company. You can get a great link off that blog for your trouble, and links like this are nicely relevant.
37. Put together a downloadable guide to your services and include the companies that you work with and list what they have to offer, to be used as an industry resource. Let them all know about it and don’t be afraid to promote this through social media channels, as everyone likes to know where they can find good information.
38. Make sure you’re listed in all the relevant online business directories and local services like Yahoo Local and Google Places.
39. Become a member of your local civic organizations, Chamber of Commerce, marketing groups, etc.
40. Make sure you’re using social media at least on a minor level, even if it’s just having a Facebook page. Be the pioneer in your industry if you need to be and get comfortable with a form of marketing that is most likely going be around (and increasing in importance) for a long time.
Link building can be time consuming for both parties. If you are asking for a link, be respectful. If someone says no, say thank you and move on.
Here is the link to read the entire article: 131 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies, on Search Engine Watch.