Where To Get Links
There are innumerable places to get links. I’m going to mention several of them (more than enough to keep you busy for a year or two), but keep in mind that the Internet is constantly evolving with new websites and new technologies. Don’t let anyone’s list limit your link building potential. Look for opportunities, not formulas.
Directories have gotten a lot of bad press in the SEO industry, and for good reason. A lot of directories have lost the power to pass any value through their links, and links from most directories have very little page rank to pass along anyway. But if you’re a small, local business or in a niche that isn’t super-competitive, some directory links can help you out. Do a web search to find a company to submit your website to directories for you – it should cost less than $100 to submit to hundreds of free directories. Most of the links won’t do much for you, but they’re not likely to hurt you either, as long as you get plenty of link from the other sources mentioned below.
So if only a few of the links actually end up being beneficial it’s still worth the cost to not have to do all the submissions yourself. There are a few paid directories that can help out – Yahoo! Directory, Business.com and BOTW (Best of the Web) are the ones I usually recommend. They cost about $300 each. If you have the budget and it’s no strain on resources, then go ahead and submit, but don’t break the bank on these directories if budget is an issue.In addition to these general directories that aggregate across a broad range of topics, you should also look for directories that are specific to your industry. If you’re not familiar with any directories in your industry, try searching for
Local Directories & Online Yellow Pages
If your business has a physical presence, then you’ll want to do a little local marketing.
First, sign up with the search engines’ local business listings:
- Google Local Business Center
- Yahoo! Local
- Bing Local Listing Center
Also get listed in some of the online yellow pages type of sites like yellowpages.com, superpages.com, brownbook.net, etc.
Finally, do a search on your favorite search engine for directories that accept submissions from companies in your city. For instance, search for.
Friends & Colleagues
This may seem obvious, but it’s often overlooked. If you have any friends or colleagues who maintain blogs or other websites, see if they can throw a link your way every once in a while.
Partners, Affiliates & Associations
In the course of doing business, it’s likely that you’ve built relationships with other organizations. These may be companies that work with you on specific projects, vendors and other affiliated companies or industry associations to which you belong (e.g. your local Chamber of Commerce, etc.). Ask those organizations to declare their relationship to you via a link from their site to yours.
Reviews and Testimonials
Positive reviews and testimonials provide social proof to those who read them, which can provide benefits to both your reputation as well as online traffic. Encourage your happy customers to write about you or rate your products and services on their own websites or on third-party sites. Whenever possible, see if you can get a link included in their write-up.
Do something newsworthy. Make sure everyone knows about it. Obviously, this is much harder for a small business than for a big corporation. But if you put in some effort and creativity, you should be able to get a little press coverage without using too much budget. Vanilla press releases can get you a few links from free PR services (search for free press release and find places to submit), but they won’t be nearly as effective nor high-quality as making news and getting coverage from bigger media sources. Do something in your community that makes people want to be involved and makes a great story (Charity event? Free seminar? Disaster relief? Brainstorm and choose the one that will get you the most exposure). Use your website as a hub to coordinate the event and get other local businesses to participate (and link to the event/registration page on your website).
Let local media outlets know what/when/where you’ll be doing it. If you’re lucky you’ll get links from local newspaper websites and maybe even TV exposure which might indirectly lead to links from local bloggers, or get filtered up to larger news outlets. When the event is done, send out a press release with a good PR service like PR Web or PR Newswire (pricey, but effective if you have a good story to tell). One word of caution: don’t make fake news. Don’t find big foot; don’t get abducted by aliens; don’t convince the national media that your six-year-old son is flying over Colorado stuck in a home-made weather balloon. Your goal isn’t to risk your credibility – your goal is to do something so inspiring or valuable that the media wants to share your story.
Sponsorships & Charities
Many not-for-profit institutions need financial assistance and are worthy of your help. Consider donating to charitable causes, especially those you feel strongly about. Many such organizations publish an online list of donors and link back to the donor’s website. You get a link and the moral satisfaction of supporting a good cause – what could be better?
Many big businesses pay other content producers for the right to use their articles. You may not be producing enough content to get into that sort of content licensing arrangement, but you can easily let other people borrow your content in exchange for links. Here are a few ways to do it:
Find out which blogs or content-driven sites are popular in your industry or in a related industry that could benefit from your knowledge. Write an original article and pitch it to the owner of one of those sites. You offer them quality content for free in exchange for exposure to their audience and a link to your website in the Author Bio at the bottom of your article. It’s a win-win. Just make sure the article is reserved solely for their site (don’t publish it on your site too, unless they say it’s OK). This method will not only get you quality links, but will likely drive some targeted traffic to your site as well.
Article Syndication Networks
Pick one or two reputable article distribution sites (Ezine Articles is a good start) and write some more content for these outlets. The articles should be unique (i.e. not exact duplicates), but you could rewrite articles from your website to use for this purpose. Once again, use the Author Bio section at the bottom of your articles to link to your website.
Make the Spammers Work for You
If you run your site on a blogging platform like WordPress – or any other CMS that uses RSS feeds to deliver content – someone, somewhere, is going to use an automated script to scrape your content and publish on their own site. And to be honest, it’s usually pointless to try to fight it. There are too many scrapers and not enough time in the day to deal with them. An easier method is to just make sure that each piece of content you produce links back to your website. So every time your content is stolen you at least get a link out of it. You can either put these links in manually, or find a script or plugin for your CMS to do it automatically for you (e.g. Yoast’s RSS Footer plugin for WordPress).
Widgets or Other Embeddable Content
Articles aren’t the only thing you can distribute on the Internet. Web-based applications are another great way to build links. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:
- Publish videos with your own video player that allows others to grab code and embed the video on their own site – with a link back to the video’s page on your site.
- Build widgets that other webmasters can put on their own websites to help their own customers – and make sure the widgets link back to your site as the originator (e.g. calculators, quizzes, profiles, statistics, etc).
- Create an award for the best companies in your industry and provide HTML code for a badge that winners (and maybe even nominees?) can display on their website – and, of course, make sure the badges link back to the award page on your site.
The idea behind link bait is pretty simple: create content that other people want to link to – content that is highly informative, instructional, funny, inflammatory, controversial or news-breaking. These different types of content topics are called hooks, and different hooks will attract different audiences. Some hooks may not leave a good impression with your customers (the “Attack Hook,” for instance, could alienate a lot of people if your attack is bitter and mean), so choose your tactics wisely.
Linkbait Hook Examples
- News Hook
- Contrary Hook
- Attack Hook
- Resource Hook
- Humor Hook
- Ego Hook
- Incentive Hook
Articles or blog posts are easy vehicles for link bait, but don’t limit yourself. Video and image-based content have a good chance at attracting lot of links. Or maybe you build a tool on your website that helps your customers do something easier, like an online assessment or a calculator related to your industry. Remember that this tactic is “bait” for links. So the people you’re trying to appeal to need to be people who have the capability of linking to you – webmasters, bloggers, website owners, etc. Keep that in mind when you’re crafting your content. To get a good understanding of the different types of hooks and how to use them successfully, read Todd Malicoat’s Link Baiting Playbook. You can also learn more from Performancing, Dosh Dosh, Copyblogger and Jim Westergren.
Social Linking – Forums, Blogs and Other Social Networking Sites
Participating in the same online communities as your customers and/or industry peers is another great way to get links that not only help you rank better but also have the potential to drive traffic to your website – traffic that actually cares about what you’re selling. Social sites could include forums, blogs, social news sites or any other website where people gather to talk about issues related to your business or industry.
Facebook and Twitter are also becoming more popular as communication channels for businesses to reach their audience. Join the conversation, add something of value to it and people will notice you and follow your link to your website to see what you’re all about. Don’t be pushy or salesy or dump irrelevant links to your website all over the place or you’ll be labeled a spammer. Just put a link to your website in your signature. Otherwise, only link to specific pages on your website when the content is relevant to the discussion.
Poach Competitor Links
Type your competitors’ websites into Yahoo! Site Explorer and press the Explore URL button. At the top of the Results, you’ll see a button that says Inlinks. Press that and now you’ll get a list of web pages that link into your competitors’ sites. Check out the websites on the list and see if you can acquire links from them too.
Use Your Imagination!
The link building tactics listed here are only the tip of the iceberg. They’ll get you pretty far, but there are hundreds of other ways to get links. Use your imagination and look for every opportunity you can find.
Here are a few basic rules to guide you:
- Try to get links from relevant or related sites (but don’t worry if some links come from outside your industry).
- Try to get links that competitors would have a hard time getting.
- Avoid links from sites that link out to PPC sites (Porn, Pills and Casinos – unless, of course, that’s what you do for a living) – in other words, avoid links from sites that look spammy or that are obviously selling links for the sole purpose of search engine rankings.
- The best links are usually those with targeted anchor text within the content of the website, not footer or sidebar links (in most circumstances – if CNN.com wants to put a link to your website in its footer, say yes!!!).
So now you have several strategies to start link building and some guidelines to help focus your efforts. Follow these guidelines, rinse and repeat every month, and you’ll be well on your way to search engine domination.