OK Website Builders! Here’s the challenging part! These are the best ways to generate inbound links to your website. Many of these involve a bit of thought and guile, and the others need a bit of elbow grease too.
Get listed in directories
You need to make sure your website is listed in as many website directories as possible, and make sure you go in the section that is relevant to your industry, if they have one.
For every directory you find, you need to find the link called ‘add my site’. Input the information that is relevant to you and your website, and press submit.
The best known directory is Yahoo. In addition, you should try to get listed on dmoz.org. It’s a well respected and used authority. Next, try going to Google and search for ‘website directory’ and you’ll get literally thousands to choose from. Do as many free ones as you have time for, and if you identify a good one it’s worth paying a pound or two to get listed.
Make posts in forums
A good way to get inbound links is to use websites where you yourself can post your link. Forums are an obvious choice. First, find out which forums are in your market. To do this, go to Google and search for ‘[my market] forum’. (Obviously replace [my market] with your actual market, eg ‘carpentry’). Register with these forums, and put a link to your website – using your important anchor text – in your signature. And then get active in the forum! Ask questions and answer other peoples’ queries. Refer people through to your website if it’s helpful (don’t forget to use your anchor text!), but don’t shameless plug your site, you may well get discredited or at worst kicked off the forum. In short, become an authority in that forum, and link to your website where possible.
Make posts on blogs
This follows the same principle as the forum posting. Find out (using Google again) who is blogging about stuff in your market, and make comments on their blog entries. Your comments won’t automatically get published (the blog owner gets to choose whether or not to include your comments), but my experience is that they appreciate the fact that someone is reading their blog and wanting to get involved. Once again, put a link to your site in your signature, and don’t plug yourself without offering other advice and info at the same time.
Convince bloggers and other editorial websites to write about you
This is the most long winded way to get links, but one which might well deliver you the most valuable ones. Contact all the important bloggers and journalists in your market. By contact, I mean send them a personal email, or even better give them a phone call. Try to convince them of the value in writing about your website. Only you know why they might want to do this for you, but if your website is genuinely useful to people in your market, then journalists and bloggers will be only too happy to write about it, as they want to give quality information and advice to their readers.
This is the short cut to getting links to your site, but is of course the most costly one too. There are quite a few services out there (the best known is text-link-ads.com) who aggregate publishers (website owners) together, who all want to sell links on their websites in order to generate a few pounds. They then invite people to buy links on these sites. You, the buyer, can choose the type of website you want using criteria such as subject area, Alexa rank (traffic), page rank (Google’s indicator of importance), and the number of other links sold on that site. The most important sites to buy links on are those that are in a subject relevant to your own. But it’s also important to look at page rank too. A ‘link’ or ‘vote’ from a website with a high page rank is worth a lot more than a vote from one with a low one. As a buyer you also get to choose the anchor text of your link.
Try signing up with text-link-ads and search for sites that are both relevant to you and are important. The links themselves can cost anywhere from $10 to $1000 per month per site.
Again on the subject of getting links on relevant blog sites or editorial sites: if all your efforts at convincing the site owner come to nothing, your last resort may be to offer to pay them to put a link to your site from their own. It’s a bit mercenary, I know, but at the end of the day they all need to make a living.
Send out Press Releases
This is one of the easiest ways to generate inbound links. Write a press release about your website. Include links to your website within the release (use your anchor text), or as a source of further information. And then distribute or ‘post’ your press release to as many press release directories as possible. Well known press release sites include Prweb.com and pressbox.co.uk, but there are literally hundreds of them out there. You need to create a (free) account with each, and then paste your press release onto the site.
Of course, if you’re writing press releases, you should also be sending them out to magazines, newspapers and websites that are in your market too.
Write articles and post them in article directories
This is another easy way to create inbound links, but which again takes lots of effort. Write an article about an issue in your market. Place links to your website within each article, using your anchor text. Then create (free) ‘author accounts’ with article directories, such as ezinearticles.com, submityourarticle.com or Google Knol. When you create an author account, you need to write a short (40 words) author biog that talks about who you are. Place links to your website within this biog, once again using your anchor text. Then paste your article into each directory. When those articles are approved (usually within 24 hours) you will generate 10s if not 100s of inbound links to your site, from editorial pages that are relevant to your site, with relevant anchor text.
What should you write about? It needs to be about an issue that gets debated in your market. For example, if you have a computer repair shop then maybe you want to discuss PCs vs Macs, or Windows vs Linux: something that you probably hear people discussing in that industry.
Ask your customers and visitors to link to your site
In the ‘real world’, many people are only too happy to refer friends and acquaintances onto a person or company they trust, and the same principle exists on the Internet. This comes down to asking a simple question of your current site visitors. If they like your website, and think its relevant, then can they link to you website? Only a few may bother, but if even 10% of the visitors to a low traffic website would in fact link to that site from another one, then that in itself will over time create hundreds of inbound links. Of course, many people do not have their own website from which to link, but thanks to Social Networking websites many people have their own ‘profile’ page. A link from a Facebook, Myspace, Bebo or Twitter page is worth as much as a link from any ‘normal’ website, as long as that page is publicly viewable (which of course with Facebook it might not be).
And that’s it!
If you carry out the link building activities above in the way we’ve suggested, and use the right anchor text, you will surely rise up the SERPs for that search term. This proves that you don’t need to have a big budget to drive lots of traffic to your site.
How are you getting on? Leave us a comment below (it will give you an inbound link!).
Here’s a link to the final part of our Search Engine Optimisation guide.