When it comes time to build some quality links from real sites operated by individuals and companies we all tend to run away from it. Yes, it is much easier to build links with blog commenting and with article marketing, but if you want the links that will get you to rank you need real live links, and the only way to get them is to implement a proper link building strategy. In order to do that we are going to summarize what a link building strategy should have from the start to the end. So prepare yourself for a bit longer post, but trust me, it’s worth the read.
First Things First – Understand Your Link Profile
We already talked and explain what link profile is in one of the previous posts, this time we are going to focus on a specific thing. To start getting some authority links to your website you first need to understand why someone would want to link to you, if you don’t know that you will have a hard time convincing people to give you a link.
Some of the reasons why people would want to link to you include:
Great and useful content
Great services or product
Maybe you can provide something in return (like a guest post or a standard partnership)
Bottom line, you need to find a reason or no one will want to link to you. The next step is to understand what type of sites already link to you if any. We are not talking about your posts on article directories or your profile or comment links; we are talking about real websites. So this may take some time but it is necessary as it may give you an insight into what type of websites to pursue first for you link building campaign.
You can do the old fashioned search by using advanced operators in Google, link:domainname.com
This will give you a smaller list of websites and maybe you should start from there. If you want a larger number of links you can use Yahoo site explorer or Open Site Explorer. So once you have the list of websites that link to you note down the following:
What type of sites are linking to you
Why they link to you
What anchor text they use if any
And maybe the most important part, do they link to your competitors and to which ones.
Second Step of your Link Building Strategy – Researching Competitor Links
Now we are getting somewhere. We know who links to us and why, now we need to understand who links to our competitors and why. The principle is the same, use Open Site Explorer to see your competitor backlinks and anchor texts and compare it to yours. Identify first the domains that link both to you and your competitors, that will narrow down the type of websites that are more likely to give you a link.
At the same time by doing competitor research you will see how many links your competition has and of what quality. That will give you some idea on what you need to accomplish in order to beat the competition. The last thing is that you will be able to find plenty of link opportunities just by looking at your competitor backlinks. You can find plenty of websites that will easily give you a link, start with the ones that don’t link to you but link to several of your competitors.
Link Building Freestyle – Finding More Linking Opportunities
The third part is finding runaway link opportunities using keyword search or following the trails. You can start off with relevant keywords to your niche and expand from there. In my case I would go from SEO to OnPage SEO to Website Design and even to Website maintenance, domain hosting and domain resellers. You can branch out to any relevant category you like, start with the most relevant and work your way down, not the other way around. The same goes for the quality of websites you are aiming for, start with the links of the highest quality and work your way down.
Why not the other way around is a good question. First of all, you can easily come back around later and ask for links again once you are more popular in the SERP or social channels, but it will be easier and faster to gain ranks and traffic if you get links from high traffic websites with good link popularity than from dozens of low level links, that is why we are focusing on quality link building this time around. Also, even one link from an authority website can be a leverage, you can say “Hey, SEOmoz is already linking to me, that is some proof of quality, right?” you get the picture.
There are two parts to finding new link opportunities; the first one is going through the websites you already noted down, competitors, link opportunities, already linking websites and see who else they link to. There is a good chance to find 3 times more websites just by following the direct link trail. I mean at least bloggers use their blogroll, right?
The second option is of course keyword search and even using advanced operators. We already said how you can branch out from your main keyword into all directions, now for the part on how to use it!
Without getting technical, my goal is for you to understand everything I say, I’m going to explain the easiest method, but this may be a bit slower method. The manual search in Google can be done using one simple keyword with the mentioned branching out like this:
SEO – SEO Services – Affordable SEO Services – Affordable SEO Services Australia – Affordable SEO Services Brisbane and plenty of other combination’s already present within these few words. I guess branching out is not a problem, the problem might be finding the starter keyword, let’s use travel for example as I have been working on some travel site recently so here are my starter keywords of which each one can be expanded into long tail in endless combination’s:
Travel – vacation – hotels – accommodation – villas – resorts – airlines – flights – cruises – holiday – cruises – camping – campers – backpackers – journey – diving – beach – surfing – snorkel – tourist – tours and the list goes on… You can use tools like Google Adwords keyword Tool to the WordTracker Keyword Suggestion Tool for this or you can brainstorm them yourself.
Each one of these keywords can bring you countless number of potential links.
Specific Link Building
The third part should be mixed with targeting specific websites. You already figured out what type of sites to go for and which of them are more likely to give you a link. So use the keywords you managed to find in combination with the type of sites you are looking for, examples:
Travel blog – travel library – travel organization – travel membership and for these you can use advanced search operators to help sort through countless links that will rank for these keywords without much relevance, Google isn’t perfect you know…
“Travel site:.com/blog” or if you want to search for a specific country look for “travel site:.au/blog”. You can look for websites with “links” or “resource” page the same way: “travel inurl:links” – “travel site:.co.uk/links”. Or you can simply use the advanced link prospecting tool by Ontolo that will give you an amazing list of search queries for only 15 seconds worth of effort, which is my suggestion.
Link Building Plan
You have the know-how and you have a list of websites to contact for links. We already explained how to approach webmasters for links, so the only thing you need for you link building plan to be complete is the priority, but we already said to work your way from top to the bottom with quality link opportunities, but you also need the priority of your keywords and landing pages. We already talked about it a bit, but will explain in more detail in the next post.
The last part is setting a goal for your link building campaign. In order to measure you link building campaign success you must have a goal, otherwise it’s pointless. So what can your link building goal be? Well you can go for increasing your websites rank to top 5, top 3 or number one. You can specifically aim to increase your traffic, through search or through links on high traffic websites. You can plain simply create a goal of building 30 high quality links, but that on its own isn’t a good goal, something like increasing your conversion rates is a good goal. So come up with one and you are lock and loaded and your link building campaign can start in a major way.
I know it sounds like a lot of work and it is at first, when you get some mileage you will do it without even thinking about it. For some of you the best solution might be to hire professional link building services, but for most of you implementing this link building strategy into your future internet marketing goal may be the key to success.