Now more than ever, if you want to be a successful business owner, you need a successful business website. Which means you have to make nice with the search engines. And the long-standing rule of search engine friendliness is to create inbound links — links from other sites pointing to your site.
Ten-ish years ago, when Google started the shift away from code to content (including inbound links) as the preferred way of determining “relevance,” the world changed. Immediately, businesses owners started scrambling, and begging, for every link they could get. Thank goodness that’s not the case anymore! But inbound links are still important. In many ways they’re more vital than ever.
How then, does one go about getting those precious nuggets of hypertext anchor tagging? Social Media maven and “Chief Nut” Kevin Skarritt, our good friend and strategic ally at Acorn Creative, offered up these 10 strategies on his “Nuts and Bolts of Brand” blog. Good guy that he is, he gave us permission to share those key linking strategies with you here. Hit it!
1. BLOG COMMENTS
Go out of your way to read other people’s blogs. Your Mother always told you that reading is good for you. She was right! But, when you do so, be sure to productively interact with those bloggers. It makes them feel good. It validates what they’re writing about. It starts up a relationship between the two of you. AND, here’s the best part, it gives you an inbound link to your site.
2. BLOG TRACKBACKS
Start your own blog and refer to all of those blogs you’re reading in the form of a “trackback” in your posts. Don’t know what this means? Check out the entry for “trackback” on Wikipedia, or go deeper with a WordPress.org tutorial. However you learn more about this linking strategy, please do, because it’s a smart, easy, and effective way to get your website lots of inbound links.
3. PAY PER CLICK ADVERTISING
Yes, PPC advertising is indeed an added marketing expense. However, it’s a controllable, predictable means to build ROI, and a great way to build inbound links where you have control over the text used in the link tag.
4. PARTICIPATE ON INDUSTRY FORUMS
Similar to blog comments and trackbacks, participating on industry forums will get you hooked up with other like-minded professionals, keep you abreast of current trends, and you get to build your own inbound links in the signature line of your posts.
5. BUILD OTHER PAGES
Some new social networking sites on the web allow you to create content and post it in their domain as new pages. One great example of this is Seth Godin’s Squidoo.com. By creating “lenses” that focus readers on a particular topic of interest, you get to engage readers and create more inbound links to your main site.
The concept of a wiki (like wikipedia.org) is that readers also become content contributors. Anyone who is registered can log in and change content. Understand that other readers of this information-rich content have zero tolerance for salesy/advertising tactics, so, be careful with this one. Be purely informative and helpful with your newly posted content. If the content survives peer scrutiny, you’ll have a nice little inbound link that’s potentially seen by millions.
7. SOCIAL NETWORKING
MySpace and Facebook for sure, but there’s an explosion of social networking web sites out there. Dive in and start participating. Doing so allows you to interact with other professionals and, you guessed it, builds up inbound links.
8. SOCIAL BOOKMARKING
Different than social networking, social bookmarking is similar to how you used to bookmark sites in your browser but, instead, you bookmark your favorite sites publicly, in sites like de.licio.us, ma.gnolia.com, spurl.com, rojo.com, Google bookmarks … the list goes on and on. The goal is to have people discover these bookmarks, and then your site. An added benefit to social bookmarking (and blog posts) is you get to “tag” your content with words and phrases that are relevant to the content. These tags are used to identify the content in the search process.
9. ORGANIZED SURFING SITES
This is a variation of social bookmarking. There are sites that organize how people surf the web in an effort to make the process of finding the right content faster and more focused. StumbleUpon.com (available as a Firefox plugin) is one of my favorites but others like Technorati (blog content), Digg (blogs, articles and news stories) and newcomer Trailfire (another Firefox plugin) allow users to power-surf, finding your site via inbound links.
10. LINK BEGGING
Don’t discount it just yet. Asking another site owner for a link sometimes still works. However, with all of the other options listed above, you’ll quickly learn that this tactic is largely time-consuming and unproductive.
Any good car salesman will recite the old adage, “plan your work and work your plan.” This especially holds true for your inbound link strategy. Whether you focus on one or set up a tactic to diversify, divide and conquer, don’t wait. The success of your website — and ultimately, your business — depends on it!