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Link Building 101: How to Get Started

« Go Back | Posted in: SEO - on May 23, 2013

When it comes to SEO, there are two sides to the coin – the on-page activities you undertake to make your site as appealing as possible to the search engines and the creation of off-page backlinks that demonstrate to the engines that your content is well-regarded by others.

So since we covered a few easy-to-use on-page SEO techniques in our last article, it’s time to dive in to link building…

The following are seven of the easiest ways to get started with this important SEO practice. Truly, there are hundreds of different ways to build links back to your website, but these ideas should give you a good jumping off point, whether you’re an internet newbie or an experienced techie!

Technique #1 – Develop “link bait” content

“Link bait” content refers to articles, videos, infographics and other web pieces that are specifically designed to attract attention. Imagine that you have an interest in healthy living and come across an article titled, “101 Ways to Live Healthier” on your favorite site. Chances are you’d be both intrigued and likely to share the content with your friends and family members, right?

Link bait content is all about encouraging viral sharing – and the link building that comes along with it – so try creating content pieces based around any of the following formats:

  • List posts (as in the example above)
  • “Myth busting” content
  • Interviews with experts in your industry
  • Link collection articles
  • Funny videos

While you won’t see every link bait piece you create turn into a viral success, deploying this type of content is a great way to both boost brand recognition and generate valuable natural backlinks.

Technique #2 – Offer a free downloadable product

Nothing catches peoples’ attention like the word “free.” So if your website can give away a free product – say, for example, a downloadable car maintenance calendar on an auto body shop’s site – chances are you’ll see a dramatic influx of new links as readers share your URL with others.

Your downloadable product doesn’t need to be big or expensive to produce, but it does need to provide some sort of helpful value to your readers. For best results, require readers to sign up for your email newsletter in order to receive your free product, as this will allow you to reach out to potential customers again in the future.

Technique #3 – Add your website to your public profiles

Next up, take a few moments to leverage any existing memberships you already have for their backlink building potential. As an example, if you’re a member of a forum in your industry, see if you’re able to include a link to your website on either your profile page or your message signature. If you’re a member of a professional organization or business networking group, check to find out whether you can add a website link to your member profile.

Now, keep in mind that you should only add your website to the profiles of sites or organizations that you’re an active member of. Joining new forums or groups with the sole intention of generating backlinks isn’t good SEO!

Technique #4 – Build social sharing links into your website

Social networking websites represent great link building opportunities, as these sites’ users are already accustomed to sharing great content with one another virally.

Unfortunately, though, most of your website visitors won’t go out of their way to share your website or the great link bait content you’ve created on their social profiles. Instead, you’ve got to prompt them to action!

The easiest way to encourage link building on social media sites is to add social sharing links or buttons to your website (either through the use of a plugin or by hard-coding them into your site’s design). This little tweak won’t take you long to complete and can make a huge difference in the number of links you’re able to create.

Technique #5 – Run a giveaway or contest

People love free things, so if you offer a giveaway or contest on your site, you can be sure that your readers will share your pages with others. Not only can this lead to a boost in traffic, it can result in new backlinks as well.

As an example, consider creating a drawing for a special prize or item that your readers can enter by posting your site’s URL to Twitter or Facebook. Doing so can lead to an influx of new links, though you’ll want to be sure you don’t run afoul of any local gambling or raffle laws in your area.

Technique #6 – Post guest articles on other blogs

If you’re having trouble gaining traction with the link building techniques described above because your site is still young and your audience is small, give guest posting a try!

As a guest author, you develop content for other sites in your industry and offer it free of charge to the site’s owners in exchange for a link or two back to your website. It’s a quick and easy way to both build your site’s exposure and capture a highly-relevant link from a reputable site in your industry.

To get started, use Google to search for sites in your industry that publish articles from guest authors (a search for “[your industry] guest author” should turn up a few candidates). Look for well-regarded sites and then follow the owners’ instructions for submitting your own guest articles.

Technique #7 – Put out a press release

Finally, one “tried and true” way to build backlinks quickly is to publish a press release and distribute it using syndication services like PRWeb. Doing so can lead to backlinks, new website visitors and higher sales from your new customer base.

Of course, it should go without saying that you need to have something worthwhile to publish in your release. Don’t create a press release to do so – save this valuable backlink building technique for instances where you have something truly noteworthy to share.

Again, this list is by no means comprehensive when it comes to link building ideas. Start with these techniques, but don’t be afraid to research other options as your comfort level with this powerful off-site SEO process improves.

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