NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE – Building links to and from your site is a large part of search engine optimization. Googlebots, the computer programs that crawl and index websites, know what to crawl partly because of links.
There are two kinds of links – outbound and inbound. Outbound links are easy to control, as they go from your site to other sites on the Web. Inbound links, those that point from other sites to your site, are harder to achieve. Inbound links are also more important in Google’s ranking algorithm; more inbound links from respected sources means more trust built for your website.
A successful link building campaign is one of the most important search engine optimization services that SEO firms offer. Your SEO expert can help you design a link building campaign that meets your needs and your budget.
Creating Quality Content
The most organic way to gain quality inbound links is to create content worthy of sharing. Well-researched, well-written content will take you a long way. Google Webmaster Tools reveals the most effective way to gain inbound links, and in theory, it’s not difficult.
“The best way to get other sites to create relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can quickly gain popularity in the Internet community,” according to Webmaster Tools. “The more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”
Having good information to link to will make your link building campaign easy and natural. We’ve discussed ideas for quality content generation as well as guest blogging ventures, so check those out if you’re feeling the perils of writer’s block. Also remember that content isn’t restricted to typed text. You can generate relevant content in the form of video tutorials, photos or podcasts, but be diligent in tagging these forms of content correctly so Google can find and index them.
Action: Create a content creation schedule. Think outside the box, and post regularly. Commit to something you can handle; new content posted once a month might be good for the beginning, and then you could graduate to every-other-week, and then weekly.
There are many ways to gain links that point to your website. First, you can submit your site to directories. Some are free and others charge a fee, but adding your site to directories is the first step to gaining inbound links. Other ways to gain links include sponsoring an event, guest blogging, holding contests or giveaways and sharing content across social networks. Reach out to other bloggers in your industry, comment on their posts thoughtfully and become part of a conversation. Let your content work for you by writing about timely subjects in your industry. You can also write about major news topics as long as you relate them to your business; you don’t want to get too far off topic and lose your customers’ trust.
We’ve discussed how to get links from .edu and .gov websites, though that isn’t an easy feat. It’s been debated as to whether Google gives higher credibility in their ranking algorithm for this type of link, but it’s certain that users find these sites more credible than a .net or a .com in many instances. Sites ending in .edu and .gov are educational, scientific or governmental websites.
But there are other sites outside of these that are deemed credible. A site with high traffic, such as a major news organization or a widely read blog, will help your link gain more credibility.
Action: Submit to directories. Make a list of relevant websites and blogs in your industry. Brainstorm ways to get a link from these trusted sites.
The Importance of Anchor Text
We’ve dedicated an entire article to anchor text before. Anchor text is the displayed text that is hyperlinked to another website. Sometimes you can’t control your anchor text, but other times you can. Make sure the word or phrase linked to your site is meaningful. This could be a keyword relevant to your business, such as “Nashville copywriter”, or it could be the name of your business. Anchor text that uses the phrase “click here” isn’t helping Google rank your website much. Anchor text that includes specific, keyword-oriented phrases will help Google understand what your website is about. But be aware that repeating your keywords could also hurt your rankings.
Action: Create a list of keywords relevant to your business. Brainstorm ways to create a link to your website using those keywords as anchor text.
Measuring Your Success
All of this link building and content creation work is to get you to the first page of Google. Now that you’ve implemented a link building campaign, it’s time to measure your success. You can use Google Analytics to track your traffic.
Master Google’s CEO Ali Husayni uses Open Site Explorer to determine which sites are linking to certain URLs and how they’re linking to them. Open Site Explorer even lets you see what anchor text is used to link to your site. Alexa and Bing also have tools for users to count and analyze backlinks. If you noticed an increase in traffic since you’ve implemented your campaign, it’s fair to say the work is paying off.
Action: Find a link-analysis site you like and learn its ins and outs. Measure your traffic sources with Google Analytics, or another analytics website. Revisit your link building campaign every month to see where you can make improvements.
Have you created a link building campaign for your company? How have your efforts paid off, and how did you measure your successes?