Marketing Bootcamp

4 Techniques for Earning Links to Your Site

4 Techniques for Earning Links to Your Site
Image credit: Ruby Gold | Flickr
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In his book Success Secrets of the Online Marketing Superstars, Mitch Myerson introduces you to 22 innovators who have redefined the developing landscape of online marketing. Learn how to master proven strategies, avoid costly mistakes and grow your business. In this edited excerpt, contributing author and publisher of LinkMoses Private Eric Ward offers tips on attracting links so you'll draw in the audience you're seeking.

A crucial part of online marketing is links and, more specifically, seeking, earning, and attracting links to your site from related sites and social media users.

Links are important not only because they drive traffic but also because they continue to be the single most credible metric used by Google and other search engines to determine a site’s ranking. Search engines pay extra attention to the types of links that point back to your site. Having the “right kind of links” can mean the difference between success and failure online.

There are hundreds of different ways to build links. There’s what some people call the natural, white-hat approach. More like public relations than SEO, this is where you have a website devoted to a particular topic, and you reach out to people who care about that topic and also have sites to let them know about your site. The goal is to have them link to your site, either in a blog post, a resource list, or whatever. These are known as “earned links” and can be very powerful signals for search engines. The idea is that people who are passionate about a topic are more likely to link to higher quality content than to junk.

At the other end of the link-building spectrum there’s what some refer to as “black hat,” which is when you create your own manipulated collection of content, sites, and links that you fully control, meaning they're not earned by merit, in hopes of fooling a search engine.

But truly outstanding content doesn't have to resort to manipulation of links in order to get traffic. The strategies and approaches that are most effective are always centered on the content and outreach.

Where is link building headed? Nobody can predict the future, but based on what I’ve seen over the past 18 years, links are too useful for the engines to ignore. I think the engines will always be able to glean something from the worldwide collection of billions of links.

Aside from the engines, I suggest you start looking at links as pathways to your business, not just fuel for higher search rankings. It’s fine to optimize your content for the search engines, because the reality is they do represent a tremendous opportunity for organic traffic. But this is the same for your competitors as well. I’m sure there are hundreds of truly outstanding personal injury attorneys in the United States, but Google can only rank one of them first. Are the rest supposed to give up? No.

Below are a few examples of link-building techniques you can try. To see an amazing list, check out Jon Cooper’s Complete List of Link Building Tactics.

1. If you're a local business, go to Moz Local, where you'll find a free tool that will give you instant feedback regarding the accuracy of your local business listings and whether those listings are correct, consistent, and visible across the web.

2. How-tos and tutorials. People love to learn things, and it’s quite easy to create tutorials, either in text, video, or both, that help them. Whether it’s a tool, DIY project, or anything else, showing people exactly how to do something is extremely helpful.

3. Reach out to industry experts. It’s fairly easy to find experts in just about any industry. A few searches with the right keywords will help you. Invite these experts to participate in an interview on your blog. Interviews appeal to experts because interviews confirm their status as experts. And experts already have connections, followers, fans, and their own sites, blogs, newsletters, etc. Interviews attract links.

4. Niche supplier or manufacturer guides and directories. Almost every industry has some type of industry specific buyer’s guide, and many industries have more than one. If you sell products or services that are a fit for these guides, it can lead to a link and more. It’s exposure of your brand to the exact audience that would be interested in what you offer. Below are just a few examples that illustrate the variety of these publicity and linking opportunities:

  • Firehouse Buyer’s Guide. An easy-access directory to the products, technologies, and services available to improve your delivery of fire, rescue and EMS related products.
  • The Pool & Spa Industry Search. The information resource designed around its 3,000 members’ and other industry professionals’ requests, providing them a one-stop resource to find the products and information they need.
  • BeeSource. BeeSource has over 14,000 registered members and is the most active online beekeeping community of its kind in the world. You'll find the Beekeeping Equipment and Suppliers Guide on the site, too. Surely if there’s a supplier’s guide for beekeeping, there’s one for your industry as well. Use Google to look for them by using industry keyword plus terms such as buyer’s guide, suppliers, members, etc.

The bottom line? Pursue links you would want regardless of whether or not Google rewards you for them. Pursue links that help your business because of the relationships those links represent.

For more information or to access exclusive audio interviews with superstars from this book visit OnlineMarketingSuperstars.com.