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The definitive Link-Building strategy
Ken McGaffin, Linking Matters

If you've gone through all the hard work of a link building campaign, you expect to be rewarded with some impressive links. The reality is that many people are disappointed with the trickle of links and the trickle of traffic that their efforts produce.

 

If that sounds familiar to you, then you need to step back a bit and re-assess your linking strategy. Are you really giving enough thought to your strategy? One of the most popular topics from the customer survey in the July 30th 2008 issue of the Linking Matters Newsletter was "The definitive linking strategy". So here goes.

 

First of all, link building is not about search engine optimization. It's not about boosting your Google PageRank. It’s not about publishing a link directory - and it's certainly not about swapping links with as many other websites as possible.

 

So what is link building about and where should you put your efforts for maximum return?

 

Strategic link building is about establishing your competitive position in the online marketplace that already exists, albeit informally, around your industry sector.

 

How do you define the online marketplace?

 

When potential customers look for an answer to their problem, they'll do a search on Google or other search engine, they'll scan directories, read articles and product reviews, lurk on discussion groups and evaluate competitors.

 

The sites that your potential customers use to do this make up the online marketplace around your industry. These are the sites you need to be on and your linking strategy must get you there.

 

An effective link building strategy is not, "I'm looking for 50 links from websites with a minimum Google Page Rank score of 5" but rather, "I want 50 links from the most important information websites that my customers and potential customers regularly use."

 

1. Understand your marketplace

 

What market sectors do you really service? How do these different sectors rank in terms of importance to your business?

 

You may think you're selling to "the technology market" and you may look for relevant technology portals like www.techweb.com : but what significant niches exist within that market? Suppose education is an important sector for your technology business, then you'd want to look for an education portal that concentrates on technology - for example, www.syllabus.com

 

Such niche websites can be ignored by competitors, yet can produce great business for the savvy link builder. (See Six Powerful Ways to Find Link Targets for more information about finding target sites).

 

In link building for clients I'll typically look for between 3-6 significant niches to generate links from. For those, I'll build a minimum target list of 250 important sites. I then concentrate my efforts on these top 250 sites.

 

2. Develop good content

 

There is no substitute for good content. It's content that customers look for, content that gets you up the search engine rankings and content that encourages others sites to link to yours.

 

But don't publish content just for the sake of having something for search engines to index. Every piece of content on your site should be there for a purpose. It must support your sales proposition and take your customers a little further along the sales cycle.

 

3. Make sure your content is well written

 

Your copy needs to be well written and prepared in a way that is friendly for search engines to follow. That means being aware of the words that people will use in looking for your products. You will then incorporate those words into your titles and descriptions, headings and subheadings, and of course in your linking text.

 

If you haven't got the time or ability to write well, then get someone who can - they will be worth their weight in gold! You can find good quality freelance writers at www.guru.com or in Israel, www.futureweb.ws

 

4. Start your link building campaign by looking at media sites

 

Media sites like CNN have large audiences of people looking for information. So get coverage and a link to your site. Not only will you get a significant boost in traffic to your site, but you'll also get a percentage of that audience linking to you because the media site did. Links attract links.

 

Once you have identified your market sectors and collated your list of 250 link targets, separate the high profile portals or information sites from the rest of the list and start with them. That's right - at the top! See if any of the portals have a 'submit an article' or 'write for us' page. If they do, make sure you use it - it's an easy and valuable way to get coverage and links for your business.

 

For media sites, whether they are the online version of a traditional service or purely online, look for reporter bylines and contact details. Many sites will publish guidelines on how to 'submit a release'.

 

5. Issuing online press releases

 

Approaching media sites above is very much a one-to-one approach where personal contact is essential. Issuing online press releases is more of a one-to- many approach.

 

You submit your release to a newswire and they distribute your news to thousands of journalists and editors on their database. Such releases can be picked up and covered by both national and local media and are certainly worth doing - but not as a substitute for the one-to-one approach described above, which is certainly superior. Try www.prweb.com or in the UK, www.sourcewire.com

 

6. Move on to non-media sites

 

Now move on to the non-media sites left from your 'top 250'. Any editorial coverage or links that you've already gained will help your cause. Other sites will be more likely to link to you if you have been mentioned by an editorial site that they respect.

 

Many of these sites may give you one-way links, others will ask for a reciprocal link. Because you're asking only top sites, it makes sense to agree.

 

But instead of burying a link to them in some remote links directory, include them in your content, write a little piece about them, even recommend them if they have something useful to offer your visitors.

 

7. Monitor and evaluate

 

At the start of this article, I said that link building was not about the number of links you could get. Likewise monitoring and evaluating is not simply a matter of counting how many links you manage to get. What is really worth measuring is the benefit those links bring your business.

 

So as a minimum you should measure:

  • How much increased traffic comes from links
  • Which links bring the most traffic
  • How much does your search engine traffic
  • How much your sales increase as a result

And finally a quotation from Sun Tzu [Wu] (BC 535 - 228) courtesy of www.quotesandsayings.com

 

"Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat."

 

If you'd like me to help you develop your link building strategy check out my link building services. For the Israeli associate working with me, contact Mike Druttman at www.futureweb.ws

 

Are you frustrated with your link building efforts?

 

Let us help with a low-cost review of your website's link value.

 

There is little point in starting a link building campaign if your website is not as attractive as it can be to link targets. I'll review your site and give you an honest assessment of your website's link value and how to improve it.

 

The review is a shorter version of the in-depth analysis I do on consultancy projects. It will include an audit of your content and what aspects are attractive to link targets.

 

I'll include specific ideas for improving your current content together with practical suggestions for the type of content you could develop in the future. The review is a practical document that will give a real boost to your link building efforts.

 

To get started, email me and I'll send you a short questionnaire and payment details - then if you want to go ahead, we can get started right away.

 

The Link Builder's Toolbox: Optilink

 

Optilink is a great tool for the research phase of a serious link building campaign. Work that used to take me days to do can now be done in a matter of hours. Optilink is great for:

  • Competitive analysis
  • Analyzing and prioritizing lists of link targets
  • Optimizing internal and external linking text

The software comes with a useful strategy guide and a series of email tips form Optilink creator, Leslie Rohde. You can buy Optilink here.

 

Contact Information

 

Ken McGaffin (UK)

email: www.linkingmatters.com/contact

 

Mike Druttman (Israel)

email: druttman@futureweb.ws

phone: + 972 9 7421250 or + 972 52 8710337

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