What is Link Building Anyway?
If you are new to the term link building, it refers to the age old (in Internet years) process of getting other websites to add a link to your website. It’s long been a sign of relevance to the search engine algorithms to have another website link to yours, so webmasters in the know don’t add links to other sites haphazardly.
Where Link Building Went Wrong
As web marketers learned of the correlation between links and search engine rankings we saw lots of tactics employed to acquire links. Some tactics were above board and some – such as paying website owners for links – were frowned upon by Google, especially without clear disclosure. There even emerged a market of link buying, including the launch of many companies that specialized in paid links.
Google’s Chief of Spam, Matt Cutts, spoke out against several forms of link building leading many web marketers to believe that they should no longer spend time building links. I want to tell you emphatically that link building is a crucial component of any digital marketing campaign and why.
What Links Matter & Why
Let’s forget about getting links for the sake of getting ranked on Google. Let’s talk about what you should focus on that is related to link building.
- Create High Quality (FREE) Resources. If you offer free premium content from your website, whether it’s an ebook, blog post, podcast, free app download, or whatever, chances are that people will be talking about it and sharing it, thus generating lots of free exposure for you. And yes, Google will also notice. 🙂
- Obtaining Press & Media Links. Getting quoted by journalists and notable bloggers is something you want to do, and mainly because it validates you as a professional and an expert in your field. It also gets people to share about you via social media, visit your website, and learn more about what you do. Sometimes these people need your services or know others who do.
- Guest Blog Posts. If there are other trusted and influential blogs in your industry where your potential prospects are engaged, you want to be there, too. The key is finding the right blog that will allow you to share a guest blog post. People are very protective of their blogs and their audiences, so this is a reasonable restriction.
These readers will often want to learn more about you if they like what you’ve written, so they will click over to your website. Assuming your website is setup correctly (i.e. you have an enticing offer on your website to share in exchange for an email address), they might join your email list to continue to hear from you. They might also share your content or become your customer.
- Quality Online Directories. I will start by saying there are few quality commercial directories that exist, so please do not go out and spend money on mass directory submissions. The only commercial web directory I would recommend that you consider would be business.com, and only if your company serves the business market. I have no affiliation with them, that’s just my opinion.
Aside from Business.com, you should always consider directories such as your Chamber of Commerce or a niche market directory that serves your industry or community. With the niche market directories, you still need to do your research because not all directories are alike. Ultimately it’s about return on investment (ROI). If you spend $300 for a directory listing and you get $10,000 in new business, that’s a pretty good ROI.
- Charities. I believe that every business should give back to their community in some way. I also believe that business owners should be philanthropic. Donors are typically rewarded with a link to their website on a donor page, and many constituents want to support those who donate to their cause, so you win by giving.
- Sponsorships. Similar to charities, sponsorships are a great way to get exposure. Commonly, you will see sponsor packages mention an online listing in the benefits, knowing that it’s a great way to get exposure to new prospects and clients. Make sure that you establish a budget for sponsorships within your marketing budget and stick to it. Also, do your research and evaluate the cost versus the potential (is it the right audience for your business) and track the return on investment.
There are plenty of other great opportunities to generate exposure by getting links from great sources. In the end, I hope you are motivated to build links simply to get exposure to your business. And know this; while you are out there creating these online opportunities, the search engines will notice as they are supposed to, and you will notice that the search engines will find you more relevant with time and consistency. My hope is that you will focus on the end result of getting exposure to new communities rather than the end result of Google rankings.
If you have any questions I’m here to help, so feel free to reach out.
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