search engine optimization, I asked people to share how they build
links to their website. I recommend you go read the responses.
also recommend you read that article so you know how to construct
inbound links so they affect your search rankings for individual
keywords that you want to rank for.
In that article, I said I'd be writing a follow up article about "how" to build links to your site.
Link building is not easy. And it's not that intuitive until you do it.
There are also many different techniques and methods that will have
varied results. Below is how I recommend clients start and master link
*_I tell people that there are 4 Levels of Link Building
Excellence. And it usually takes 4 years to master it - just like high
9th Grade: Links You Can Build Yourself That Require Little Time Investment
Before I get into this, I'd like to stress that you should have a
really good keyword strategy and make sure you've optimized each page
on your site around a different keyword phrase. Any link you're
building should be designed to help a specific page rank high in the
search engines for a specific keyword.
That said, the first set of links that every business should get are
the ones that don't require anyone else's help. There are lots of
business directories out there where you can just submit your URL,
company name and a description of your business. Some of them require
approval. Some of them require a fee. Yahoo's directory, Joe Ant,
Aboutus.org are some of the ones you should do right away.
In this class of Level I links, there are also many social media sites
where you can simply build links to your site. Most of these no longer
pass SEO credit, but they're still good links to get, assuming your
target audience visits the site or these sites rank high for your
It's arguable that you should hire someone to do (or start) this stuff
for you. It's low level work that generates low level returns. Just
make sure that you don't hire a firm that will get you 1,000 links for
$1,000 dollars. If it's too good to be true, it is.
10th Grade: Links You Build Yourself that Require Effort
Before I get into this level, I'd like to stress that launching a
business blog should be done before doing this. Without having a blog
on your site with lots of good well optimized content, you don't really
have anything to link to.
That said, there are two very common link building techniques that work
well that don't require you to be a "thought leader". Yet. These
activities require a bit more time investment and a small financial
investment. They are article marketing and press release optimization.
With both of these methods, you have to create relevant content that
will appeal to your market. So, it requires more time than Level I.
Also, the process of getting your articles syndicated and your press
releases submitted and picked up - takes effort. You might consider
hiring a wired pr firm or a strong seo firm to do some of this stuff
If done correctly, both of these methods can significantly increase the
links to your site. Also, if you write your articles and press releases
with a keyword strategy in mind, and with links that support your
keyword strategy, it can significantly raise your rankings for specific
keyword terms. Run your press releases and your articles through press
release grader to determine whether they're going to help.
11th Grade: Links You Network For that Require a Significant Time Investment
This part of link building is kind of like sales. Cold calling can be
done effectively with persistence. But, networking, getting referrals,
giving first, the law of attraction, etc is a better way of getting new
Link building is the same way. If you're more of a cold caller type,
and there are lots of potential places you can get a link, you might
consider just creating a list of webmasters and asking them for a link.
If you're a natural networker and you're in this for the long haul, I'd
recommend being a bit more patient. Apply your persistence and spend
your time building relationships.
No matter what route you take, the goal of this level is to make
yourself visible among people interested in the same topics as you.
This process is a bit self promotional. But, you must promote yourself
in a way that you're adding value. You master this level by acting like
a resource for people in your industry.
How do you do this?
about networking and building meaningful relationships. The first step
is reading other people's blogs. Then, commenting on them. Then,
eventually starting a relationship where you're communicating 1 on 1
with them. I recommend you take the leap from reader to 1:1 with a
blogger, by pointing them in the direction of other people's content
that might be interesting to them. In the non marketing world, this
usually happens through email. In the marketing world, this usually
happens through Twitter. If you're techy, this might happen through
Delicious. If you use StumbleUpon or Digg, those are great platforms to
share things with peers. Even google reader lets you do this kind of
networking. But, it can certainly happen through any social networking
platform or system that enables 1:1 communication.
From a link building perspective, the ultimate goal of this level is to
get invited to write a guest article for other people's blogs or
website. For example, I wrote an article about inbound lead generation
for Aaron Ross not too long ago. In the article, I linked to relevant
resources on my blog and the HubSpot blog and site. These are great
links from an authoritative source. Aaron reaches our target market
sending relevant traffic. These links also help us rank for our target
During this process, you're also building up a group of people that will most likely begin following you...
Seniors Rule! (*12th Grade*): Links Other People Give You Because You Create Remarkable Content.
This level is like the last month or two in high school when you've
already passed mid terms and you've been accepted to the college of
your choice. You've done the hard work already. Now, it's time to go to
parties and enjoy being the care free big man on campus.
You don't necessarily halt the activities above. But, you spend more of your time just creating remarkable content. (+And some link bait+.)
At HubSpot, we do some guest articles once in a while and we optimize
our press releases. But, mostly we just put time into churning out
content on our blog and producing other online marketing resources like
webinars and white papers. Some of you seem to think this stuff is
pretty remarkable. As a result, it generally creates great
conversations in our comments, strong attendance at our webinars and
lots of white paper downloads. And regularly, people link to our
webinar announcements and blog articles of their own accord.
This doesn't start happening overnight, unless you're already famous.
We have a lot of advantages at HubSpot. Website grader's success,
funding in the bank, successful clients, smart founders who started
blogging before they had a product and now... a lot of employees who
contributor to the blog, a strong social media following, etc.
But, we did it in few months. If you're a small business and you follow
the path above, there's no reason why you can't stake your claim on the
web. Link building is an important part of that. Hopefully, this post
demystifies the process a bit and gives you a roadmap to get started.
The biggest mistake that newbie internet marketers make is thinking
that creating great content on their blog will be all it takes to be
successful internet marketers. My biggest frustration is when newbie
bloggers pack up shop after just a month of writing because the blog
doesn't have an immediate impact on their search traffic and lead
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