In the world of SEO, link-building plays the prince to content’s king. We all understand the necessity of links, and are desperate to get them. We have a million tricks and bell and whistles at our disposal.
Sometimes we can get caught up in the hooplah. A better widget, a more outrageous piece of gossip, a bigger celebrity photo. Link-baiting becomes the focus.
Maybe we decide blogging is the way to go, and we start to spend hours haunting different forums, trying to find ones that will allow a signature link without booting us off.
In the midst of all these methods, tricks and secret theories, it is easy to lose sight of the simplest ways to get links; simply by asking.
Do a little research in your chosen field to find out what the best sites seem to be. Look at PageRank, yes, but also look at the site’s content and see if it is truly valuable. PageRank isn’t always the perfect indicator!
See if you feel comfortable getting a recommendation from the site. Trace their own links back and see where they come from, and inspect those sites as well.
Often you can discover if the site is involved in any shady practices themselves, like spamming or link buying and can avoid them and the taint of association.
If you find several well done sites that you feel would be able to benefit you with a link, plan how to approach the subject. I know, I said ‘just ask’, but there is a delicacy to these matters!
A great way to break the ice is by contacting the owner and asking for advise, or clarification on some point. This opens a dialogue, and once they have helped you once, the tendency to assist you again will be stronger.
After a few exchanges, ask them to take a look at a specific page or feature on your own site, and give their feedback or opinion. Maybe they’ll become interested enough to link to you voluntarily at this point, or at least give you a glowing comment that you can use as an opening to say:
“Thanks so much! You really think so? Then would you mind linking to me from your site? I could really use the vote of confidence!”
Another tactic is to keep an eye on the blogs – not to try and post Yourdon link, but to watch for the blogger to maybe make a derogatory comment about your field or type of business.
Jump in and start a debate – it doesn’t have to be ugly, just spirited enough that they end up checking you out and posting the link themselves, even if only to say “so and so at (your link here) is so full of it!”
Hey, no such thing as bad publicity… well, anyway, it will get people clicking the link to scope you out, and is unlikely to do you any real harm.
Widgets are great, and link-bait is fun – just don’t forget that often a simple request can get you just as good results.