People in the world of search are commonly beating the drum of link building. We tell you that your success with your website, and even your online marketing presence, depends on it. Yet so many companies pay no attention to link building, and their inbound link profile. This dismissal is often due to a lack of understanding of the impact link building can have on your online success, or else due to a sense of being overwhelmed by the amount of time needed to execute an effective link building campaign.

I won’t lie to you: building links is an arduous and often thankless job, that seems to take more time than the perceived ROI. But formal and thorough link building strategy can positively impact your online presence, and, your business.

By increasing your inbound links to your website, you will:

  • Increase the relevance and authority of your entire website, and kick up the relevance and authority incrementally for each of your pages
  • Increase the relevance and authority of your page, which increases your visibility in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP)
  • Increase referral traffic to your site through these links, as well as increase overall traffic
  • Increase the search engines understanding of what your site is an expert, based on the phrases used in the back-link anchor text (the words used in the hyperlink from the other sites to link to your site)

So how do you come up with a link building strategy?

It’s important to note that not all links are created equal. Search engines place more authority on back-links to .edu, .gov and .org sites that others. Additionally, links from industry sites, related directories, associations are far more worthwhile than Uncle Bob’s fishing site (unless your business is fishing related). Authoritative and topical sites are more apt to give your higher rankings.

So, first consider your own back-link profile. See where and whom is currently linking to your site, and then deterine where you need to have links.

Next, look at your competitors. Here is a great way to uncover hidden opportunities that your competition is already taking advantage of.

When you consider your existing back-links and your competitor analysis see if you can determine the anchor text used for those links. While most if not all of them will used your domain name or Company name, the goal is to build links that used your targeted keyphrases for which you have optimized your site. And make the anchor text varies from site to site. There should also be anchor text diversity, while staying within the keyword themes of your optimization efforts.

Finally, search engines like domain variety. Look at existing back-links and competitors for opportunities that provide as much diversity as available. 20 links from one site is not as valuable as 1 link from 20 different sites.

So how do you go about acquiring new inbound links?

Sad to say, there is no magic potion for this. Link acquiring is all about determining target websites, getting in touch with the site owner with a compelling reason to link, and developing that relationship. It is a one to one proposition. And while you might have heard from, or been solicited by, companies who guarantee “500 links a month for only $49.95”, trust me: it isn’t true, and if it is, they won’t help you increase your ranking
and visibility. In fact, those “get links quick” schemes might even harm you in the eyes of the search engines.

There are some simple suggestions to help you with your link building:

  • Ask for them. If you’ve done your research, and find a site for which your content would serve to enhance their audience’s experience, there’s nothing wrong with asking.
  • Create share worthy content. Whether you have a new whitepaper, eBook, article, or blog posts, creating unique content for another website is a great way to break the ice with a new relationship. And, coming prepared with something to offer your potential link partner shows that you have given this consideration, and that you are motivated.
  • Submit your site to Business Directories – there are many schools of thought to directory submission. I cannot deny that being listed in directories can in fact help your visibility and ranking, as well as traffic to your site. My recommendation: stick to industry related sites for the most bang for your buck, as most good directories cost money to be listed.
  • Social bookmarking – Social bookmarking is the idea of adding bookmarks and articles across different social bookmarking sites in the web.Bookmarking sites store data through links from different sites, highlighting popular and recent links. These sites are frequently visited by users; therefore, the chances of your site spreading among users will be much higher.

Most important to your business (and your sanity) it to think of your link building as a long term process. Looking at the number of new links from your efforts, weekly, or even monthly, is like looking at your 401K every day. Think more in terms of every six months when you have a bundle of new links, and a spike in your traffic for your reward.

Link building is an ongoing process. There is no “set and forget” button, nor is there a finish line. Just as your SEO efforts and content development are ever evolving, so too should your link building efforts be a constant endeavor towards an consistently increased rank and authority.

Just as a comprehensive keyword analysis is the foundation upon which you build your on-site and PPC optimization, think of your link building as the spine that allows your brand to stand, and stand tall, on the Internet. By increasing your back-links, not only will search engines value your authority more and more, but those links will drive more and more traffic to your site, and hopefully convert visitors into customers.

Are there other link building efforts that your have used? Share them with us!