Increasing inbound links to your site with bloggers, competitors and social networking
This week we’ve been talking about how to start your link-building campaign. In the last two articles, we’ve focused more on building up your contacts, but now we’ll show you how to get people to link to your site and drive website traffic.
If you want people to organically link to your site (as in, without you suggesting a link exchange or barter) here are a few things you should do:
- Get found. Research highly searched phrases using a tool like Wordtracker, and SEO your articles using that phrase, so that reporters and researchers will find YOU when they are looking for references in their own articles.
- Stay current. Whatever your target audience is, report with news-worthy articles and stay up to date on all the latest related gossip. Again, this is for outside references.
- Promote shamelessly. Encourage readers to digg and del.icio.us your articles. This puts links to your site on some very credible news feeds.
- Let users generate content. Allow comments on articles and blogs, make your site the water cooler for search engines.
- Make lists. There’s nothing is more link-able than a good list.
- Start controversy. That’s right, don’t be afraid to be controversial. Like they say… “any press is good press”.
How to get bloggers to write about you
In the last few years, this technique has become the epitome of link building. It might seem like bloggers have their own clique when it comes to cross-linking, but much like any social gathering, it’s all about taking a sip of wine and getting out there. If your list of blogger prospects isn’t large enough, do some target shooting in Technorati, Google Blog Search and Ask.com‘s blog search engine.
Here are a few ways that you can get bloggers to notice you and link to your articles:
- Contact the blogger. This is a bold move, but if you really think that something you’ve written will be of interest to the writer, then by all means, put yourself out there. Contact details can almost always be found on a bloggers site or contact page.
- Comment on blogs. This has multiple benefits. First, if you are writing genuinely interesting comments, people will feel inclined to learn more about you. Most blogs link to your website if a user clicks on your comment name. The other benefit of this is that you immediately have a backlink to your site. However, steer clear of leaving obvious promotional comments, as they are likely to be frowned upon and removed.
- Ask for a review. If you are product-based, offer relevant bloggers a chance to receive a free product in exchange for their review. The risk is certainly that they will not be an immediate fan, but that doesn’t mean that the backlink is any less valuable, especially if a user follows it and finds a different product they prefer.
With all that said… keep in mind that most bloggers don’t get paid nearly enough, or at all, to do your profitable company a favor without getting something out of the deal. So you may want to remember this when you email them.
If you plan on emailing the blogger, start your email with a compliment. Talk about how much you enjoy their blog, and do your research beforehand. Make sure you provide them with all of the details they’ll need to link to your site or article. For more tips, check out Ogilvy’s Blogger Outreach Code of Ethics.
How to get your competitors to write about you
This is good old-fashioned business. Your competitors are not going to give you traffic without something in exchange, so you need to think of something good.
- Exchange links. A non-threatening place to suggest a link-exchange would be in a blogroll or “partners” area of your competitors site. It doesn’t distract their readers but it’s still a valuable placement.
- Fill a void. It is also likely that you have a complimentary article or product in your arsenal that they do not cover and may find valuable to their readers. If this is the case, that might be the sort of exchange you should be looking for and focusing on. Many bloggers rely on other bloggers to fulfill their editorial needs by cutting and pasting, or speed-linking (a post composed completely of links to interesting articles and sites) to fill some white space. Fill that space.
However, if your site mostly consists of a blog, and is hardly product-driven, I would use the term “competitor” very lightly because your “competition” in this realm is likely your biggest ally, since you can help each other out the most when it comes to link-building.
How to get other inbound links to your site
This is the fun part. Remember all those user-generated sites you’ve been hearing about? Well… go get ’em tiger! This is the easiest way to create your own external inbound links. Forums, online communities, social bookmarks, online reviews.. these are all places where you have the opportunity to create a live link to your content, with the least amount of effort.
- Social networks. We’re going to make this part simple by pointing you to an article we wrote about being a social networking evangelist, back in April. It shows you multiple places to set up shop and create links to your site from multiple domains, including Digg, MySpace, LinkedIn, Technorati and more.
- Online Press Releases. One last resort is the realm of online press releases, which will automatically generate multiple links to your site from all over the web. Not only from the PR sites themselves, but also from any browsing blogger looking to pick up a story (score!). We’ve listed an archive of free and paid resources as well as a step by step how-to in our Quick guide to distributing press releases online article.