Linkbuilding is one of the most important things you can do for your website; that’s been true since the Google algorithm was first developed, and it’s still true today. Basic methods for linkbuilding have changed somewhat since then, though.
Here’s a step by step guide to the essentials of linkbuilding right now:
- Have a good website. There is no substitute for this. People give quality links, and people won’t give high quality links to a poor quality website. A good website must have, at the least, strong content, modern code, and a polished design. I get link requests from websites which appear to be under construction, or to have been thrown together with a template and a list of keywords, and I don’t give those links. Neither will the webmasters from whom you want links.
- Have good content. Your website must have good basic content in order to be a high quality, linkworthy site. You can certainly get links to your homepage in business directories and similar sites. However, you’ll get better linkbuilding results if you also have content — a blog post, an infographic, an article, a game, a tool, an informative page — which is not just about your company. Informative or entertaining stuff will get links from bloggers and other informative pages, even if they wouldn’t link to a commercial page.
- Offer good content. A guest blog post, an article, a press release, an infographic with embedding code — good content that can be offered to others in exchange for a link back to your website can get you some high quality links. Don’t confuse this with low-quality, spun or computer-generated articles stuck on link farms. Those links used to be beneficial, but they no longer are.
- Use site exploration tools. SEOMoz has Open Site Explorer, which is currently free, and there are tools of this kind such as Blekko or Majestic SEO‘s link profile tools which are not precisely free but may be worth the investment. These tools will help you look at the links your competitors have gained. Assuming your competitors are working on their backlinks, this can help you find directories or other linking opportunities you might not have found on your own. You can also search with “link:” followed by a URL, but this will show you only a small fraction of the links the site actually has.
- Find high quality directories. You can search for these with a search engine or you can use a site exploration tool. Make sure to choose high quality relevant directories, and do a good job with your submission. Copying the first paragraph of your “About Us” page a hundred times is not good practice.
- Add your site to blog directories. It takes several months of diligent blogging to become eligible for inclusion in this type of directory, but it can be beneficial. This additional source of links is a good reason to have a blog.
- Create profiles. Creating a strong page at Google Places, Brownbook, LinkedIn, Merchant Circle, Manta, and other super-directories is worth the time. Write unique descriptions of your business. If you can add photos and videos, do. If claiming your business is an option, do that, too. Include your physical address. Look for sites of this kind within your industry, too.
- Create social media profiles — with care. There are some social media sites where you can sign up, create a profile, and get a link with no negative consequences if you never go back. LinkedIn, for example, can provide a useful link even if you don’t use it for social or networking purposes. Others, like Twitter, will make you look lame if you sign up and then don’t participate (plus, you’ll lose that profile). Figure out the difference and create profiles only at those where you will participate, or where failing to participate is not a problem.
- Request links. When you find a website where you ought to be, ask for a link. For example, a library website that lists educational institutions in your town should be willing to add your tutoring company. A parents’ resource site that lists pediatricians who work with Aspergers should list your clinic if you fit that description. Find the name of the webmaster, write a personal email, and give sound reasons that your website would be useful to the readers of the site where you’re requesting a link.
Don’t get too caught up in the dofollow/nofollow distinction. Put more time into gaining more important links. Avoid the major pitfalls of linkbuilding. You’ll be pleased with the results of your hard work. (Doesn’t sound like fun? We will do it for you. Call Julianne at 479.966.9761.)