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Generate Links, Step by Step

Here is a quick summary of various ways to get links for your website. These link-building strategies are ranked by priority in a very general way. One of the first things you should do is to ask friends and family for links and one of the last is to wait.

However, in between these strategies, the priority varies from business to business, or person to person. You may feel that a strategy lower on this list is important to do right away.

  • Register with search directories. The Open Directory Project and the specialty directories aren’t only important in their own right but often also provide links that other search engines read.

    Links from directories are important not only because people can find you when searching at the various directories but also because search engines often spider these directories.

  • Ask friends and family. Get everyone you know to add a link.

    Ask everyone you know to give you a link. Many people now have their own websites or blogs, Facebook pages, and LinkedIn accounts. Ask everyone you can think of to mention your site. Send them a short e-mail detailing what you’d like them to say. You may want to create a little bit of HTML that they can paste straight into their pages.

  • Ask employees. Ask employees to mention you.

    Employees often provide, by accident, a significant number of links back to their employer’s website. In particular, employees often mention their employer in discussion groups that get picked up by the search engines.

    So why not send an e-mail to all your employees, asking them to link to the company’s site from their sites, blogs, and various social-networking sites, and to mention you in discussion groups? You might give them a piece of HTML that includes an embedded logo.

  • Contact association sites. Contact any professional or business association of which you’re a member and ask for a link.

    Association sites are a much-overlooked source of free and useful links. Many such sites have member directories and may even have special links pages for their members’ websites.

  • Contact manufacturers’ websites. Ask the manufacturers of any products you sell to place a link on their sites.

  • Contact companies you do business with. Get on their client lists.

    Check with all the firms you do business with and make sure that you’re on their lists.

  • Ask to be a featured client. Sites can get high PageRank by being linked to from sites that feature them.

  • Submit to announcement sites and newsletters. This includes sites such as URLwire.

    There used to be scores of “announcement” services, websites, and newsletters that published information about new websites. Most have gone.

  • Send press releases. Sending press releases, even if distributed through the free systems, can often get you links.

    Does your company publish press releases? You should distribute these as widely as possible. Even if you submit press releases through a large service, such as PR Newswire, you should also distribute them through the free and low-cost distribution services, which will quite likely get them placed onto other websites.

    You may want to write a few quick press releases and send them through the free-distribution services, just to see if you can generate some links. (The free services generally have various paid upgrades.)

  • Promote something on your site. If you have something really useful, let people know about it!

    One of the most powerful link-building techniques is to place something very useful on your site and then make sure that everyone knows about it.

  • Find sites linking to your competition. If other sites link to your competition, they may link to you, too.

    Find out who links to competing sites and then ask them if they can link to yours. In some cases, the links are link-exchange links, but in many cases, they’re just sites that provide useful information to their readers. If your competitors’ sites are useful, and yours is, too, you’ve got a good chance of being listed.

  • Ask other sites for links. During your online travels, you may stumble across sites that really should mention your site, as a benefit to their visitors.

    Approach these sites the same way you approach the sites linking to your competitors: Send an informal note asking for a link.

  • Make reciprocal link requests. Ask other site owners to link to you, in exchange for a link to them.

    A reciprocal link is one that you obtain in exchange for another. (It’s often also referred to as a link exchange.)

  • Respond to reciprocal link requests. Eventually, other people will start asking you to link swap.

  • Search for keyword add url. You can find sites with links pages this way.

  • Use link-building software and services. Try using a link-exchange program or service to speed up the process.

    Search engines index many web-based discussion groups. Whenever you leave a message in the discussion group, make sure that you use a message signature that has a link to your site and also include the link in the message itself.

  • Contact e-mail newsletters. Find appropriate e-mail newsletters and send them information about your site.

  • Mention your site in discussion groups. Leave messages about your site in appropriate forums, with links to the site.

  • Promote to blogs. Blog sites are often well indexed by search engines.

    The Internet holds literally billions of blog pages, and some of them have to be related to the subject served by your website. Many blogs allow visitors to respond, and in fact you may find services offering to post responses into blogs for you as a way to create links back to your site.

  • Pursue offline PR. Getting mentioned in print often translates into being mentioned on the web.

    If you can get publications to write about and review your site, not only do many people see the link in print — and perhaps visit your site — but often your link ends up online in a web version of the article.

  • Give away content. If you have lots of content, syndicate it.

    Many companies have vast quantities of content on their websites. It’s just sitting there, available to anyone who visits. So why not take the content to the visitors before they reach your site? Placing the content on other websites is a powerful way not only to build links back to your site but also to get your name out there — to “brand” yourself or your company.

  • Apply for online awards. Sign up for site awards.

  • Advertise. Sometimes ads provide useful links. In some cases, buying ads on a site to get a link does make sense.

    For instance, if many of your clients visit a particular website and you can get a low-cost ad on that site, buying an ad to both brand your company and to get a link that the search engines can read may be worthwhile. And remember that it’s a very relevant link because it comes from a site that’s important to your business.

  • Use a service or buy links. Many companies sell links; Google doesn’t like this, but encourages it at the same time.

    Some of these services simply run a link-acquisition campaign for you. Others already have an inventory of ad space on thousands of sites and charge you to place a link on a set number.

  • Just wait. Eventually links will appear, but you must prime the pump first.

    if you’re doing lots of other things — sending press releases, getting mentioned in papers and magazines, contacting e-mail newsletters to do product giveaways, and so on — you’ll gather links anyway. You’ve got to prime the pump first; then, things seem to just take off.

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