Linking is an important part of search engine optimization.
I have promised on two occasions to document how I believe you should go about getting good quality links. Basically there are two ways to go about getting links:
- Actively seeking and acquiring links; and
- Passively seeking links
I consider active sourcing as any method where you are pro-actively going out to acquire incoming links. Some of these methods do involve paying but not all:
- Tier 1 Directory submission – has to be done and be prepared to pay for it. Yahoo! Directory, DMOZ and Business.com are the three that I always recommend straight away.
- Tier 2 Directory submission – all the rest and what I consider generic directories. Worth getting in as many of these as you can.
- Tier 3 Directory submission (niche) - do a search on your favourite search engine for “[Keywords] directory“. Try searching for a couple of different keywords to find different directories.
- Resource sites – taking a similar approach to above, do a search for your top performing keywords and identify any industry resource sites.
- Press releases – issue a press release and pay for it to be submitted to press release search engines. Also a great way to build up general awareness of your business, assuming you have something positive to crow about.
- Sponsor a conference – most conferences provide exhibitor information on their home page. Of course, you should get further benefits from being at the conference and your sponsorship.
- Testimonials – provide a testimonial to your suppliers regarding the great service they are providing your business. Don’t forget to include your URL.
This is all about working on your site so that other people want to link to you, because you have something to offer. These types of links just happen over time as you build up a regular customer base. Becoming an authorative site in your area of expertise is the key to this passive method.
- Content – build top quality, unique content that provides value to people. They will then naturally provide links into your site.
- Start a forum – though very time consuming and resource intensive, a forum where people can talk about ideas related to your area of expertise is an effective method of building content.
- Blog – similar concept to a forum but less resource intensive. A great way for people to link to your site and provides a great customer retention tool.
- Free Tools – provide some sort of free tool on your site. This is a very effective way for the resource sites that are out there, to link to your site. Everyone loves something for free and will link to it.
- Newsletter – start a newsletter that you can email to your clients. Put up a newsletter archive on your site allowing anyone to view these. Again, a derivative of point 1 which is about content.
- Affiliate program – start your own affiliate program. Not only should it drive some sales but also will provide a few links in.
You will notice at no point have I talked about sending out mass emails or buying links through text adverts. These are other options but not something that I felt worthy of talking about here.
Again, I stress that you need to exercise some element of caution in obtaining too many inbound links too quickly. This can set off alarm bells for search engines and potentially (if you subscribe to the theory) get your site into the Google Sandbox.
The safest way is to be slow and steady in the way you obtain links. If you are going to go the effort of obtaining links, than be prepared to be in it for the long haul