A Beginner’s Guide to Link Building

One of the cornerstones of building a successful website has become developing your link popularity. Managing and maintaining a steady stream of incoming links can mean the difference between hundreds of hits and millions. Since your website is meant to draw the attention of potential customers, building your link popularity can maximize sales.

Useful and engaging content and flashy graphics may keep people at your site, but they won’t get them to come to your site in the first place. Getting people to visit your site is accomplished by putting information about your site and its URL in front of the largest number of people possible.

Having your site listed on fifty related sites that target the same audience is helpful, but hundreds or thousands of links from other sites will produce significantly better results.

LinkPopularity.com will give you a rough idea of the number of links to your site and to your competitors’ sites. Just type in the URL and then look at the list shown for each search engine (Yahoo, Google and MSN). While establishing large numbers of incoming links can boost your search engine ranking, the quality of these links will have the greatest impact on traffic to your site. A link to your site buried on a second level page below the fold won’t get you a tenth of the traffic compared to a link placed above the fold on the homepage of a web site.

If you are trying to get other sites to link to your site, consider the amount of traffic they get in any given day. One or two links on a highly visited site is worth hundreds of links from small sites. A mention in USA Today with an accompanying link brought in a raging flood of visitors to one of my websites; far more than the traffic I garnered from posting my link on less populated sites. Of course, having long-standing links in highly visible forums will also increase your chances of getting your site read.

In order to improve the placement of my own business web sites in search engine results, I educated myself on the way that search engines operate. Back when very few people understood search engines and even fewer businesses thought to market their products that way, I began to research link popularity and search engine optimization as a marketing tool. Armed with this information, I designed my websites around these key ideas, and watched my traffic grow. I also started a column on one website about the latest in building link popularity, which established my credibility.

But how does one who is unfamiliar with the term go about beginning to build their link popularity?

Link Building Tip #1: Get Your Site Ready

Before you begin spreading your link willy-nilly, get your site ready for others to view it. Your site should be professional and easy to navigate, and all of your links should take you to the appropriate destination. Validate your HTML code and check all links throughout your site because many directories exclude sites with broken links.

Link Building Tip #2: Make Time

Link building isn’t accomplished in thirty minutes on the fly; it takes hours and days of relevant research and commitment. Link building is most effective if you budget time every week for this very purpose. How much time you set aside is completely up to you, but a few hours each week will be sufficient. Don’t let other tasks interfere with this time, and concentrate on exploring new and different territory.

Link Building Tip #3: Establish Lofty (but realistic) Goals

I’m going to be honest with you: link building is meticulous, mundane and frustrating work. You won’t see instant results, and you might spend most of your time trying not to pull out your hair. All I can say is that it will pay offâÂ?¦eventually.

Keep records of all of the sites you’ve queried for link trading or posting and if they say “no”, try again in 9-12 months.

Link Building Tip #4: Get Everyone Involved

Even if you are in charge of the link building for your business, advise everyone on your staff about what link building is. This is a relatively new term in SEO, and your management and employees may have no idea what you’re talking about.

Advise them that you’re actively pursuing this link building thing, and that any suggestions or feedback will be appreciated. You never know where your next tip will come from.

Link Building Tip #5:Be Choosy

All links are not created equally. Known link farms (sites whose primary purpose is to give hundreds or even thousands of links) are often banned from Google, and are unhelpful at best. Instead, target sites whose purpose complements your own, but not sites that are in direct competition with you.

The best advice I can give is to do your homework. Find the best sites with the most traffic, and ask for links. Sites that receive millions of viewers every day will build your link popularity much more quickly than sites with only one hundred visits each day.

Link Building Tip #6: Get Chummy

Before you ask a site owner for a link, establish a relationship with them first. Get to know the site owner and the products (if any) and tell them all about your business. Internet goers are increasingly wary of people who ask for something before anything else, which is completely justifiable. It’s just like entering a message board online and posting your first message as an advertisement. You’ll be ridiculed, yelled at and possibly banned.

The Internet is really no different from real life. People know when they are being scammed, and have learned to be wary of new folks online.

Link Building Tip #7: Provide the Code

Rather than just sending your link to sites, provide the full code in HTML format, which is a major point in building link popularity. This will increase your chances of getting a “yes” because all the programmer has to do is insert the code into his or her web editor. This is a standard rule of thumb when it comes to the Internet (and in person as well). People are busy and if you don’t make it easy, you’re e-mail will be deleted and not given a second thought.

Link Building Tip #8: Find the Link Directories

Open Directory, Yahoo!, Joeant and Zeal are just a few of the popular link directories online. Familiarize yourself with the way that they work, and target them first. It’s an easy way to begin building link popularity.

Link Building Tip #9: Make a “Partner” Page

You’ll find that most sites will not agree to link to you unless you provide a link back. Rather than dirtying up your site with lots of random links to various places, create a “Partner” or “Affiliate” or “Special Thanks” page on which to list all applicable links.

Link Building Tip #10: Outsource It

If you are too busy to focus on link building, outsource the task to a professional. There are hundreds of people available online who can run your link building campaign for you, and it really isn’t that expensive.

Try Guru.com, Elance.com or another outsourcing site as a place to begin your search.

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