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.

Skier carving a turn off piste

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.






Comments(59)

Thank you very much for this article. I've been kicking around what to do about links for a week now. Then I 'just happened' to see this article. You make very valid points in a no-nonsense way. Thank you, thank you!!!

I would advise him to do both. I am saying this because there a lot of blogs out there that write classic materials. Their materials are master piece, but no one sees them. But with links, people will visit your site, but if your content is not solid, they would leave.

But if you are using both methods, when people visit your site from links, they would visit your site. Then with your classic contents, they would become daily readers.

I have been learning about linking for sometime and this will help out with my current campaign.Video links are a very good way to get high quality link, just search for lists of submission sites.

I totally agree that taking the approach of "giving" and adding value will fuel the flames to building links, on the other hand you first need to create a spark to develop the beginnings of that flame and that is why I also agree with Dalirin that a combination of approaches will work best.

With anything in online marketing and business in general there is not single solution, it is all about developing that mix of traffic sources, which includes, SEO (both on and off-page), SMO (video, blogs, social bookmarking...), PPC and a number of other methods that are developing with each passing moment.

Great post!

You provided the ski guy excellent advice and if he follows your tips, he'll be taking it to the bank. Over the next few years, I think you'll start to see many more small businesses get serious about Web marketing. It's a vast, yet untapped reserve of creativity that will swell the ranks of those making their living from the Internet.

Writing and publishing articles is a great way of getting links to your site. Check out EzineArticles for more information.

Link baiting is definitely the whitest-hat, preferred method for getting links to one's site since it serves a number of positive purposes. However, link baiting even with excellent content can't substitute for a balanced link building campaign that incorporates multiple methods of getting links posted to your pages. You don't necessarily have to spend hours every day begging sites to exchange links with you, but dropping blog comments, submitting to good directories, AND creating good content (both for link bait and just because it's a good practice) will probably produce the best long-term results.

trying to build links to your site can be a Hair pulling experience. But i think the problem is that people think that link building is a quick and easy task. You need to put the effort in to see the results. People can utilize facilities such as article directories, forum, blog, press releases, squidoo lenses, hubpages. These are somes places where people can build links to your online venture i hope this helps.

several ago, we have reciprocal, 1-way and 3-way linking. with web 2.0 coming into the mainstream, begging for links have become the thing of the past.

just post an article to ezinearticles and you get a link

reply to a forum thread with your sig and you get a link

post a blog comment on a do follow blog and you get a link

there is yahoo answer, various social networking sites where you can drop your links. there is no limit to your imagination where you can have your links in place.

the only question is do you have the time to do it? i for one (being a one-man team that i am) find it too time-consuming to develop links for my sterling silver cz rings site. i am considering hiring a staff to do pure linkbuilding for my site.

but i still have to determine if i will get my roi. increasing my rankings and traffic. as you can see, it is sometimes a chicken and egg situation. for me to increase my rankings and traffic and eventually revenue, i need more links, but need more time to do that, which i don't have. if i were rich, it would be an easy decision to make.

There is no doubt that content is still king. Getting people to find that content can be a daunting task. When writing content you should appeal to your readers and the search bots.

A little keyword research before creating the content to find some long tailed keywords that will effortlessly fit into your content is critical.

Setup a remote blog and link to your main website using the keywords. Make sure the content is not a duplicate. This makes linkbaiting pretty simple and quick. Most of the popular link building strategies have been covered by commenters here except directory listings.

Using directories to get 1 way inbound links is easy and many are free to get listed. List of Directories

While I agree with the whole content is king thing people with new sites need to be very careful employing only this strategy. Before anyone knows about you they won't link to you. That is why it is important to submit the reference to your articles and tools in as many bookmarking sites as possible. Even free needs to be promoted at first to gain some momentum. And at first you need to be proactive at getting links to the free content as you would to sales pages.


Gavin

Excellent advice however your advice assumes the owner of this site is also the webmaster. If he is great. If not he will have to have at least a minimal understanding of how to edit the content on his site without screwing up the existing content or page formatting. If he doesn't posses these skills then he will be forced into the position of having to pay a webmaster to edit and add new content for him.

Kitchen Plans

This information is sought by every webmaster. Link Building or Campaign is the most important and the one way is make a good content. But it is not easy too. Do you have idea for all webmaster could create a great content?

Great points all. It's true that the most important part of any Web site is the ability to change it, which I have written about in the past, and it's also true that good content is not an easy road. There's no one-size-fits-all advice. You must analyze what your customers need and fulfill that need with the best information you can.

I would have to say that this owner is a little more advanced than most you will run into. There are thousands of SEO companies that will charge upwards of $1000.00 per month do go on a link building campaign. Many people a fortune just by setting up businesses with capture boxes and autoresponders. Now days it seems google is looking more down on recipical links and better at one way links.

I agree with you that writing great content is key and is one of the most important things.

However if your site is relatively new and you don't build any links to it, then it is likely to stay buried in the search results.

I always like to build links by doing some article distributions, press releases, directory submissions etc.


SEO Tips


"They'll be much more likely to link to those pages than to your product catalog." Who is they and how do they know you?

You are not being realistic Mark. If he takes your approach, when do you think he will rank for his keywords, which sound competitive? 5 years from now? What, until then? You will feed him?

It is one thing to say and another to do. It sounds very ideal to crack out great content and then wait for people to link to you. Unless his content comes in the frontpage of Digg, or any other super popular social media sites, people won't even take notice. Plus, Google takes backlinks from social sites with little weight.

If you want to build good links, go out and ask, if possible pay (not paid reviews, not sitewide), run multiple campaigns such as article marketing, guest blogging in related blogs for in-links. In-links are very powerful and they build weight as they age.

Let great content and viral videos be a small part of your campaign, and not the campaign itself.

Write good quality articles is very tough task, and to popularize it is another tough task. Yeah, you are right. It is the best way to get quality links, but both of the tasks require longer time span. I completely agree with Dalirin, one needs to use both the methods to get results quickly.

Lots of great feedback. Several of you have pointed out that you must do more than create the content, but that you must promote it, using social media and other approaches, which is certainly true. Some of you might think this is unrealistic, but I've seen many businesses take this approach and win.

The reason it works is that the keywords that are least competitive in the search engines are the ones that describe the problem you solve. People search for those keywords as much or more as they search for the product words--it's just and earlier part of the sales cycle.

If you're having success buying links or trading links, I won't question you, but in my experience you are a rare bird. It's far more realistic for people to create content their customers want, promote it, and reap the benefits.

I agree with Gerry, there are a lot of us with no direct control over the content of our websites so have to rely on (and pay) others to update it on our behalf. However this article + everyone's comments has raised some interesting ideas for link building that hadn't occured to us before, thanks!

I agree with Dalirin. People won't link to your site or blog (or find it for that matter) unless it's visible to the search engine first. So ensure visibility of your site and links are accessible by the search engine. Get some search engine and directory submissions done initially, build some quality links then ensure its usability and keep that fantastic content updated on a regular basis, together with regular link building and optimisation.

The most difficult part is when you start to build links. Even if you do have good content people might not find it at first and would never link to you. Of course time is of a matter here, but still doing nothing wont help. I believe that at first building links in forums would be reasonable. Once people get to know your good content links are gonna be build up faster.
_______________
Bangkok Food

Well if you want to do it in a white hat way, i'm sure its mainly hard work.

But otherwise a lot of people buy links or even create links via automated systems that creates blog-post in more or less random blogs. Had some of this linkspamming on my blog last week.

Steen Öhman

Update your website on a regular basis and also summit your website to search engines on a regular basis, about every three months.

If i develop a site I make sure that content is good and then submit links to link submission sites to build up links for companies to get more people to visit them and hopefully help on their search engine ranking. The more links going to a companies site will benefit them because they will possibly gain more business from people finding them on other websites.

Useful comments - however, things are a little trickier in the B2B marketplace. I work for a Telemarketing/Telesales company and most of the 'related' web sites are competitors. I have got us listed in some relevant directories, but many of these use do-not-follow links, so are not terribly helpful in driving links.

For business to business web sites, you still have to budget for a considerable expenditure on paid advertising to drive traffic to to a web site.

On the practical side... if and when you undertake a content driven campaign should you use a built-in mechanism like addthis? It will drive links from social sites but according to your readers here those are discounted. So, should you avoid addthis?

Attracting links from social media sites helps drive traffic to your site using the links. No one knows whether search engines treat these links the same way as other links or not. Whether they do or not, that shouldn't be the driving force behind what you do. Instead of trying to do things that make search engines happy, make your customers happy and chances are the search engines will like you , too.

Writing and publishing a good quality articles is the best way to get quality links for your site.

Hi Used Cars (may I call you "Used" for short?),

You're right that merely writing content isn't enough. If everyone writes better content than you do,then yours won't rise to the top. I wish there was a shortcut, but in that situation, you really need to improve your writing or get someone to write for you. It's not hard to hire a copy writer and it could prove an essential investment for your business. For all you know, your competitors have already done so, which is why their content is so good.

I think this is a very difficult task to improve your site page rank or popularities. But such way make it’s very easy just like Link building, One way or reciprocal exchange, back linking, forum, hub, etc. I have a websites and try to make it popular in top of the Google search. I have used these ways and found a positive result. I would like to suggest you these process to make your site top.

Thanks

Appreciate your article been working on links for sometime and you bring a lot of good information to the table. Thank you!!

Many thanks for the ideas, I have bben told that if you up date your page to often GOOGLE etc thinks it is still being built so ignores you. If you do not update your page GOOGLE thinks you have died, so you need to upddate maybe every 2 - 3 weeks.
is this so?

Great article! Links for the sake of links is not a good idea. Content is the king....

Your article was helpful. I am a new marketer and make mistakes, but I learn from your posts. Thanks a bunch.

David Robbins makes a good point. I often see real estate websites fall into the trap of thinking links will be the end-all-be-all of SEO. However, those real estate personnel don't build the content to support what their links point to. Linking is effective, but links will only be as good as the content they point to.

I agree content is the way to go. Write good articles and other sites will link to you. How do you think I found this site.

great article. looks like content is still king....

Good points. Once you have great content how can people make it easier for people to link to them? And what are your thoughts on deep-linking to content?

I agree. Content is what led me here to this blog. Links are great, but without a quality site or good content your time is wasted.

Hi Gareth, making it easy for people to link to you is less about what you do than what you don't do.

Don't use URLs that go one for nine miles full of special characters, because people will think that the URL changes every four minutes and will leave them with a 404 on their site. Don't hide your best content behind forced registration pages--people think that it's great to collect people's e-mail addresses but the truth is that few sites will link to those pages.

If you write excellent content and you optimize it and promote it well, you'll attract links, as long as you avoid the pitfalls that stop people from wanting to link to you.

I recently enquired to members of my networking group how I could increase traffic to my website and their responces were all to encourage Links to my site.

I thought this was way beyond what I was capable of achieving myself. However, after reading your advice and the comments posted I am motivated and ready to take on this challege. I believe I can write a great blog and publish some quality property related articles! In fact I cant wait....

Must go... Editorials to write and blogs to find!!

great article where the comments are actually as useful as the article itself. The difference in response really seems to some to capture the numerous way of climbing the rankings! good luck everyone!

My challenge - Holiday home rentals

@in floor heating
I have experienced this situation several times in the past and it is quite frustrating, however if you can coax them to give you some valuable information you can write (or in may case get a copy writer) a good article that will drive traffic to the site. One method of coaxing info out of a client is creating a questionnaire, that way you client doesnt have to think too much about what they have to do. Sometimes that hardest part of writing is where to start! Furthermore, the questionnaire itself can serve as an article.
Another good way to create content from your clients knowledge is to create a '10 best ways...' or '5 helpful tips on...' type articles. These type of articles are very popular at the moment since we all love lists and advice in bullet form. You could maybe tailor your questionnaire to provide you with the top 10 ways to install underfloor heating etc...

good luck.
eddy

I've been researching how to get more visitors to my site, and this article is one of the better pieces of advice I've come upon.

I will need to know the list of search engines that get one links for free. since i setup my website, their have been low activities.

I think that building high quality links will help a lot as only having content on the page will not be 100% great effect. He needs traffic to come to the website and read that great content and spread word around and people bookmark his website. Just my 2 cents!

Thanks for the article, a few questions how often should i submit to search engines some say every month others say every 3 months.

Robert, every 3 months is correct. This is the timeframe for that the major search engines and directories.

Let me just share another link building strategy. Convert your blog posts into podcasts.

You can use free online software to automatically convert your blog posts into podcasts without having to do any extra work. By turning your blog posts into podcasts, you open up a ton of new link building opportunities.

One of my favorite tools, Odiogo.com, will instantly give your blog a voice. Odiogo will automatically convert your RSS feeds, text articles and blog posts to iPod-ready audio files. Once you’ve installed their free service, you can then submit your new podcast to all of the podcast directories, generating tons of new backlinks to your site.

That sounds like a great tip, there, PEP. I hope you are OK with me shortening your name, solely for space reasons, of course. :-)

I am going to try Odiogo for my Biznology blog--maybe I will describe my experience in a future post. Thanks for passing the info along.

I like the idea of writing good content to gather links. I think sometimes people forget the most important factor in SEO is good, quility Content.

Get the content right and the rest will follow.

I found your comments very interesting and to the point. Video has become important. A great idea I heard about not to long ago was to make videos that are interviews. This helps 2 websites at the same time and also from what I understood creates a link between them.

Today it is very tough to get links to websites but still you can get links by putting some content on websites. You have to leave some comments or post blogs to get link from other site.

Works, after almost 2 years of constant link building process we missed the important part of our web page content, recently we improved the web content, targeted keywords and there is a result from 1/10 we are listed 5/10 in 3months. Working on it at the moment hopefully we will rich our target 6/10 very soon, thank you for your suggestions.

spot on. but you do need to drive people to your interesting content. this is where you need a broader digital strategy. In this instance, the ski guy needs to get the content on site then run an email campaign targetting the ski resorts directing them to his content...

I think you should work on blogging, create you own blog and start regular posting on sites with your link. By the way you can get links to your site as well as you get some visitors to your blogs and sell some products. you can also drive traffic to your site.

I have a complex question for you

I built this site over 60 days ago, spent 45 days linking with search engines, Squidoo sites, my blogs, etc, but now when I do a link search thru webmaster tools, i see 128 links, all mostly from a few sites that i know. I don't see anything from pages that i purposely linked to mine, and what about the submission to 800 search engines and 45 directoriess a month ago. I get email every day that I have been added, but still only 128 links

If i do this same link search in Yahoo, I get a totally different number and higher

Do you know of a link that someone can analyze their web site and get a true picture of whats going on, rankings, etc

Thanks

JB

Hi Jay,

That is a complex question. I'll put it on my list to address in a blog post in the near future.

Comments closed after 30 days to combat spam.


Search Engine Guide > Mike Moran > How do I get links to my Web site?