Guest post by Emily Thompson
Getting links to your site is essential in SEO. The search engines view each link to your website like a vote- and while not all links are created equal, they are all counted! Perhaps you, like many small businesses, have decided to tackle building your own links. It’s important to know that link building can often take a lot of time, and be fairly arduous. However, the benefits are huge!
Let’s take a look at just how important links for your ranking in the search engines. This chart, courtesy of SEOmoz, 2009*, really helps hit it home. Based on a survey of some of the top SEO experts in the world, link popularity, or the number of backlinks a specific page has, and keyword anchor text from those external links, make up a large portion of your rank.
- Create a plan: Think about which area of your business you would like to focus on first. A particular product? A service? Your general industry? Whatever it is, look for related sites or opportunities. Sectioning out your plan is very beneficial and makes the task at hand feel more manageable.
- Build a comprehensive list of potential link partners: This is, perhaps, the most tedious part of link building. It takes hours of manual effort, including researching non-competitive related websites, utilizing tools like Yahoo Site Explorer, or SEOMoz’s Open Site Explorer. You can use these to explore links to your competitors and attempt to contact them. Also grab the low hanging fruit- talk to current customers or clients, and see if they can link to you or write about you on their blog. The bigger you can get this list, the better. You will most likely get very few responses for every hundred contacts you attempt.
- Contact people personally: Again, this piece takes time, but it is absolutely worth it! If you come across as spammy, people are not likely to care what you have to say. Send genuine, thoughtful contact emails. If you’re interested in a link from a certain blog, actually read through it and take the time to comment honestly. Try to develop relationships as you do this- it can help you build online communities and really learn from each other.
- Get creative: Take advantage of every opportunity you have. Write articles, promote press releases, create content that people want to link to. Essentially, utilize every weapon in your arsenal. In addition, diversity can help you gain visibility and reach different audiences. Using different outlets helps you get traffic and interest, along with just a link.
There is a great aggregation of tools, articles and tips published recently on http://seo.site-reference.com. This comprehensive link building list really brings together many of the resources you should be utilizing when you’re ready to get moving with building links to your site. Make sure to learn as much as you can and make educated decisions about who to prospect and what tools to use. And remember- patience is a virtue! Take the time, get the results and don’t get discouraged!
*Source: SEOmoz (2009). Search Engine Ranking Factors. Retrieved March 11, 2010, from http://www.seomoz.org/article/search-ranking-factors
Author Bio: Emily Thompson is the Online Marketing Coordinator for Kutenda Internet Marketing Software (http://kutenda.com). Kutenda offers tools and resources for small businesses to succeed online and grow their business.