Friday, March 10, 2006

Link building 101: how to get the most amount of links to your site in the least amount of time

Pssst... I'm going to let you in on the worst kept secret of search engine optimization:
It's all about getting links to your website.


I'm serious. While on-page factors such as keyword density and title tags are rudimentary techniques that almost every new website has picked up on (quite a difference from three years ago), link building is something that still eludes many webmasters, and for good reason: It involves work.
In fact, search engine optimization is about 90 percent effort and 10 percent experience. You need experience to recognize which keywords are more profitable, which techniques you need to learn in order to get more visitors to your website, etc. etc. After learning all that, it's just a matter of getting down to doing the work itself. And that is why search engine optimization software such as SEO Elite are so effective: They cut down on the sheer load of work involved and provide intuitive ways for you to use your experience and get the most out of your investments (in this case, your website AND your time!)


In this lesson I'm going to talk a bit about the techniques you can use to get more links to your website. There's nothing special about them; they all involve some work, but they all pay off in terms of targeted traffic. In fact, that should be the prime goal of your link building campaign:
All the strategies mentioned below can be used to get more links to your website. It goes without saying that the more of these strategies you use, the faster you'll be able to get more links.

A common pitfall for most people new to SEO is that they often get sucked in by catchphrases such as ‘the best way to get links to your website' or ‘the top 3 strategies you can use to get tons of links to your website'. The truth is that none of these techniques is the ‘best'. In reality, your website and your business model (in other words, the nature of your website-customer interaction) will determine the most fitting strategies for your linkbuilding campaign.
In fact, when you launch your linking campaign, you'll probably have varying degrees of success with the strategies below. For example, article submissions are a great way to earn more subscribers to your newsletter, while affiliate programs work wonderfully well if you have a decent list of proven products (or a great product). The methods below are not separated in any specific way; I've listed the ‘free' methods first and the paid methods later. Use this list as a reference through your link building campaign, and for best results, mix and match these techniques in the way they suit your website the best.

Just Ask !!
The traditional way of getting links is to directly ask potential link partners to link to your website. This can be a one-way link or a reciprocal link (more on reciprocal links later). The key factors here are to identify potential link partners and then to contact them and offer either a reciprocal link, an offer to their visitors, or both (we'll cover paid links later).
Finding potential partners is a difficult business. It used to be that you would search on a major search engine like Google or Yahoo for your target keywords, and then check each website in the top 50 or top 100 listings manually, evaluating their similarity to your niche and noting their contact information. This is a tedious process, and is fraught with the primary obstacle of most link managers: ‘What if they say no?'
You could make them an offer they can't refuse (which you will, and I'll tell you how) but to improve your chances, use technology to your advantage. As before, use your target keywords to search for the top websites in your niche, but instead of contacting them, use a search engine optimization software to evaluate the back-links of a top website.
The idea here is to find out which websites link to the top competition in your niche – the websites in the top 10 or top 20 results for your target keywords.


Write an article:
The second step is to make the approach, sell the idea, or like I said before, make them an offer they can't refuse. Part of this approach is to ability to write convincingly (you'll find samples online of successful link request emails) and it is something you learn with time – test your link requests by sending different letters and measuring the response and repeating what works.
The other half involves the offer itself – what your website (or you) can offer to the link partner that will compel him/her to link to you. If you're looking for free links, this offer can include a reciprocal link, site-wide links or maybe just the quality of your website content. The idea here is to sell your link even before they visit your website to check if it's worth linking to, and this can only happen if you can the right pitch.
The idea is quite simple. To establish yourself as a knowledgeable expert in your field, you need to be able to project your knowledge beyond your own website. In this case it involves writing articles on a particular topic in your niche, and distributing them to article directories online.
While this is a crude approach, the method can be refined by offering an article to potential link partners – thus providing them with valuable content for their visitors. Article syndication is a powerful tool and if used properly can generate hundreds, even thousands of visitors for you.
A quick search within your niche can help you find article directories where you can position your article, but a better option is to look at content aggregation websites in your niche – sites which regularly post articles from off-site authors. This not only gives you a chance to build your links but also gives your reputation in this field a boost, something that you can leverage in later techniques.

Run an affiliate program:
If you sell a product, or a range of products, or even a membership service, launching an affiliate program is the quickest way to get inbound links. Of course, you'll need to promote the affiliate program beyond your own website, and you can combine the above two techniques to promote not only your website but also your affiliate program.
In addition, if you have an e-product (an e-book or software) and you sell it through a portal like ClickBank, you can be assured that your affiliates are managed directly through their website. In case you want to run your own affiliate script, you can find several for a low price and even some good ones for free.

An affiliate program offers your visitors and potential link partners the chance to make money by doing a little promotion of your product. For other webmasters that could simply involve posting your link or even posting your article promoting your product on their website; a sure bet for getting a link.
Directory Submissions and site submissions
Second-tier directories and niche directories are seriously under-estimated in terms of their impact on your website traffic. If you're just starting out and looking for free traffic, steer clear of the paid listings of Yahoo and ilk and concentrate on smaller hubs. They may not receive hundreds of thousands of visitors every day, but if you can garner 10 visitors a day from one directory, and get 10 or 20 such directories to which you can submit your link, you have a free stream of 100-200 daily visitors for only an hour's worth of work.

Paid Links:
The same goes for submitting your website's link on sites that have a ‘links' page and require a reciprocal link in exchange. While this is not the best strategy to get links by, it will help you in the beginning to get some traffic and hopefully, natural links as a result of that traffic.
If you're looking for a high value link (for example a link from a PR 7 page) and your website is fairly new, you're not going to get in through normal means. In this case, the offer involves money, and this can usually be judged through the site's own advertising policies. Search the website for its media kit, or something similar. Alternatively, you can email them asking them about advertising opportunities on their websites. In this case being direct is the best approach, and will save both your time and theirs.
Of course, the catch here is the amount of money you're willing to pay. Some websites charge a monthly fee, others charge a ‘per impressions' fee (for example, your ad would be shown for 10,000 page views only). In these cases you won't have much room to negotiate if you are just starting out, so it's advisable to shun the big guns and go for the smaller fish – people who won't ask you for too much money and will accept a combination of reciprocal linking, money and some other ‘free method' such as an article submission. Once your website carries its own weight in traffic and Page Rank, you can target the PR 7 and PR 8 websites.
The advantage of such websites is the sheer amount of traffic they get. A news site in Pakistan gets about 60,000 page views a day. Even on a CTR (click-thru-rate) of 1%, that amounts to 600 visitors a day, or 18,000 visitors a month.
The question is, what will you do with this traffic? The possibilities are endless

Paid Listings:
Similar to paid links, paid directory listings are essentially directory inclusions for your website. For some directories, like Yahoo, this is a yearly arrangement, and even then there is no guarantee of inclusion; your website must pass certain editorial criteria. On other, less known directories, the payment is simply a one-time fee plus a request for a reciprocal link.
In many ways paid listings and links are the ‘extra' tweaks that you give to your online business. Even if you have the cash at the start, it's a prudent strategy to pursue free linkbuilding strategies alongside paid methods to ensure that you don't invest too much in your business before it starts to show a profit.
The key to a successful link-building campaign is the consistency of effort you put in. Cut out the hard work in finding link partners (and for that matter, niche directories) by using a linking software such as SEO Elite, with which you can simply plug in the website URL, select your search engine and get a list of all the websites that link to it, the anchor text of those websites as well as their Page Rank. Lists like these, of your top 20 competitors, should be your target link partners during your link campaign.
Link-building is a simple business. All it requires is consistency, and some hard work (which you can eliminate using a simple search engine optimization software such as SEO Elite). And with things being so easy, don't be surprised if you follow these steps and find yourself in the top 10 results for your keyword in just a few months.

Courtesy of brad callen SEO Elite

2 Comments:

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