The owner of a Web site that sells ski and snowboard equipment contacted me recently with a burning question, "How do I get links to my Web site?" His e-mail was filled with lots of geeky search jargon about reciprocal links and PageRank effects--enough that I suspected I wasn't dealing with someone clueless about search marketing. Instead, I think this business owner had done a lot of research on search marketing and was asking me about what he'd been told. He was gearing up for a big link campaign, targeting ski resorts and any other place he could find. I think my advice to him brought him up short.
Link campaigns can be effective. It is possible to request links and receive them--it happens every day. But for the same amount of effort expended, you could probably write new content for your site that would attract links without you ever asking.
Image via Wikipedia
Why not put some excellent content on the site that those other sites would want to link to, such as a guide for which equipment works best in which kind of snow, or what the latest innovations in equipment are, or how to get good equipment on a budget? They'll be much more likely to link to those pages than to your product catalog.
How about getting your kid to make a video about why certain kinds of bindings are preferred by some skiers? Or an article discussing the pros and cons of renting equipment at a ski resort vs. buying it? Your customers want to know about these issues, and you'll get links galore, if your content is good.
What's more, this kind of helpful and interesting content will be passed along in social media, which will get you more attention and even more links.
So, what would you rather spend your time doing? Begging strangers for acts of kindness by linking to your site? Or bestowing kindness on your customers with content that they want to read? If you choose the latter, trust me, the links will come.
Mike is an expert in search marketing, search technology, social media, publishing, Web personalization, and Web metrics, who regularly makes speaking appearances.
Mike's previous appearances include ClickZ Live, RKG Summit, Ticket Summit, Webdagene, the CiTE conference, and the Forrester Marketing Conference.
Mike also founded and writes for the Biznology newsletter and blog, is the co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc., and sole author of Do It Wrong Quickly, named by the Miami Herald as one of the 11 best business books of 2007.
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