Attracting Backlinks: The Goals & Challenges

..actually, by Melanie Nathan

So you’ve SEO’d your site… your title tags are perfect, meta descriptions on every page, alt text on all the images and nice relevant content etc, etc…. now what? … Link building!

Among other factors, Google relies on other websites to determine how popular your website is. The more websites that link to yours, the more popularity ‘votes’ you have. The more votes you have, the better your search engine rankings will be. The better your SE rankings are, the more traffic you’ll get to your site. And so on and so on. This is the circle of linking and search.

Four Common Link Terms to Know:

Backlink – a link to any page within your site from any other web page.
Anchor text – the linked text that is ‘clickable’ (i.e. I love that blue widget I saw!).
Reciprocal links – you link to my site, I’ll link back to yours. ( these aren’t as affective)
One way links – you link to my site. I don’t link back to yours. ( these are best but hardest)

Granted, some backlinks are easy to get (i.e. fill in a form and hit submit) but others, especially the valuable links, are more challenging. In fact, if you’re serious about increasing your exposure by building links to your site, it may often be necessary to create a piece of content specifically tailored to the community in question in order to effectively attract their link love. It doesn’t have to be controversial or ruffle any feathers either.

The “Educational Purposes” Approach:

For educational purposes, let’s say an authoritative site such as widgeteducation.com may have a links page but there are a whopping 100 sites already listed on it. Obviously, being listed on this page will not provide much exposure or benefit for your site, bluewidgets.com. However, writing a clever educational article (such as ‘A History of Widgets in 500 Words or Less’) and then either publishing it to your site and suggesting they link to it OR sending it to them for publishing on their site will almost guarantee that link. Best of all, your link won’t be buried on an already over diluted, totally useless links page.

The key here is that the content MUST provide some value or benefit for them to even consider linking to or publishing it. You can’t expect to just publish mediocre content and get people linking to it (not including your friends and family). Just think about what kind of content YOU would link to as a site owner and what would bring value to YOUR visitors.

In order to attract even more links this way (and if you’re willing to put in the work), you could publish a bunch of custom written articles to a ‘widget articles’ section of your site. Then let it be known that anyone may use/republish the articles on their websites, providing they link back to bluewidgets.com. Not only will you be providing value to your visitors but you’ll be attracting natural links to your site in the meantime.

Note: It should be obvious, but if you send content for publishing on a site, make sure you have included a link to your site within the article body (don’t forget to use anchor text!). Specify that a permanent author’s credit w/link is a must if they want to publish your piece (specify the link must not be ‘nofollow’d either).

Geographic Related Links:

If you’re attempting to get links from sites that have a geographic focus make sure and use your city/state/country keywords (assuming you’ve researched them and found the good ones – you did, didn’t you?).

For example:

If, as the owner of bluewidgets.com, I was trying for a link from floridawidgets.com, I might create some tailored content for them to publish and include a title and anchor text targeting Florida (such as “Blue Florida Widgets”). Even better, I would make sure that “Blue Florida Widgets” linked directly to my ‘Florida Widgets’ category (or whatever page was best suited).

Therefore, if they chose to publish my content, my link on their site would look as such: Blue Florida Widgets, instead of just http://www.bluewidgets.com/.

Since Google already knows and trusts that the floridawidgets.com site is all about Florida widgets (assuming it ranks well for related terms) it stands to reason that an endorsement from them would help my rankings for my Florida related terms.

Three Important Things to Remember:

Since quantity, quality and targeted text are all important aspects of link building, always keep these three things in mind for maximum impact.

1. Try to get sites to link to you using anchor text rather than just your domain name or worse, an image. You’ll have to be persuasive though as most will want to just use your URL. Remember that some sites will choose to link to you using the title of your page or article therefore make sure to do your research and create a descriptive title using one or two of your targeted keywords (this should be done regardless though).

2. Try not to just get links to your homepage but rather mix it up a bit and find sites which are willing to link to an inner page. For example a site with a ‘fictional’ focus might link to your ‘widget stories’ page using the text ‘stories of widgets’ or something similar.

3. Effective link building is an on-going effort. One up your competitors by being creative, thinking outside of the box and looking for backlink opportunities everywhere you can.

Melanie Nathan is director of SEO at STATUSFirm‘s Edmonton office.
You can reach her at m.nathan at statusfirm . com, and you can follow her twitterings here.


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