How to Improve Your Marketing with Links to Your Website

By John Arnold, Michael Becker, Marty Dickinson, Ian Lurie, Elizabeth Marsten

In web marketing, link building — getting other sites to link to yours — is critical to your search engine optimization efforts. However, many people ignore the rest of SEO and focus entirely on acquiring links. Link building is not the only component, and ignoring great copy, great code, and a well-structured site in favor of link building is a mistake.

Encourage links

You can encourage links by making it easy for folks to link to your site, too.

  • Make your page URLs easy. This link

    www.harrisonsbikes.com

    is better than

    www.harrisonsbikes.com/index.aspx?category=1&products=2&special=
    no&catid=234&productid=12312
  • Consider providing an easy way to bookmark each page on your site.

  • Provide an easy way for customers to forward links to friends. You never know when a tool will prompt a visitor to forward your page to her friend, the top-100 blogger.

    image0.jpg

Build a contact list

First, you need a contact list so that you can work on building a relationship with these folks that goes beyond begging for links. Send them an occasional helpful note about a new article they might find useful. If you ask people who know you for a link, they’re more likely to help out. Follow these recommendations to help you get started:

  • Start with folks you know. If you have a relationship with other website owners, start by contacting them. You have a far better chance.

  • Find sites related to your industry, and see whether they allow you to contact the webmaster. If they do, add them to your list, too.

  • Find blogs related to your industry. Add them to a separate list, because you want to market to them via social media, not by sending e-mail.

  • Pick up the phone. Research the site owner a bit, figure out what they may need, and offer to help with some phone advice or a little development time. Then ask for a link at the end of the work.

Don’t spam. If the site doesn’t have a webmaster contact address on it, don’t contact the site.

Build a Widget

You can also build links by giving people a tool to put on their own websites. Widgets are fairly commonplace now and can serve a wide variety of purposes. Widgets can

  • Provide the latest headlines from another website

  • Show weather information for your area

  • Show information about the site on which the widget is placed

  • Play video

    YouTube and other services use widget-style code if you embed their video in your site.

If you include a link back to your own website as part of the widget every person who uses your widget gives you a link.

image1.jpg

Follow these rules for widget link building:

  • Don’t overdo it. Google, in particular, is sensitive to widgetbait link-building tactics. If this is your sole link-building strategy, you’re headed for trouble.

  • Make it original. Avoid using weather-prediction widgets, fortune-telling widgets, and random photo widgets that are available. Make yours very relevant to your business. Harrison’s Bikes, for example, might have a widget showing results from local bike races.

  • Make it simple. Provide a single chunk of code that webmasters can cut and paste into their own websites. It must be a one-step process. If it isn’t, they won’t use it.

  • Make it fast. If your widget grabs information from your website before loading, make sure that it’s fast. Nothing drives webmasters crazier than a widget that slows the load time of their own website.

  • Include a link. Make sure that the widget includes a link back to your website, and make sure that it’s a direct link.

Some companies do nothing but develop widgets. Get in touch with them if you have an idea you’d like to see come to life. Elance.com is a good place to start.