The following post on building links to your blog Evan Carmichael.
It’s no secret that building links to your website will help drive more referral traffic as well as increase your rankings in Google and the other major search engines. In previous ProBlogger posts Aaron Wall and Wendy Piersall have talked about it. Darren has also been known to create a post here or there on the topic.
Today I wanted to share with you how I built 22,938 links to my website and how you can do the same:
How To Check Your Links
Before getting started on the tips, it’s important to know how to check the number of links Google recognizes. Most people know about the link:www.YourDomainName.com command that you can type into Google. This function, however, will only return a sample number of links to your site and does not show the complete picture.
To find out how many links Google actually sees you need to create an account at Google’s Webmaster Tools. It’s free to sign up and the information you will receive is of vital importance if you are trying to improve your Google rankings.
If you already have an account, simply go to the Dashboard, click on your domain name, click on Links on the left side bar, and then select the pages with external links option to see how many websites are really linking to you.
7 Ways To Build Links To Your Website
1) Pick a Niche and Own It With Quality Content
Darren has blogged at length about the importance of having quality content if you want to stand out as a successful blogger. Quite simply, if you aren’t writing material that is new, different, and offers an interesting perspective, you won’t get readers or links to your blog. Just as important, I believe, when you’re getting started is to pick a niche and dominate it. If you’re not making money online yet, don’t write a blog about how to make money online! There is too much competition and you don’t have valuable content to add.
Find a topic that you are passionate about and that isn’t too competitive yet. As an example, I chose famous entrepreneur stories. I now have the largest collection of stories of famous entrepreneurs anywhere online and get linked to as a resource. I’ve since been able to expand beyond the famous entrepreneur stories but it’s important to first start with a niche and get known as an expert in your field.
2) Get Involved In The Community
Once you have picked your niche, get involved in the community surrounding it. No matter what topic you pick there are blogs and forums already discussing it. Join the conversation! When I first started my site I listed the top 10 blogs and forums where entrepreneurs hung out. I commented on the blogs, helped people in the forums, and answered questions as they came up. The bloggers appreciated my valuable insights and the forum members loved the help I gave them.
I always included my website in my signature and pretty soon I was generating traffic and links from the community sites. Because I was getting known as an expert I also had people link to me from their sites without me having to post a comment or forum entry on theirs! People link to Darren because he’s the best in the world at helping bloggers turn their blogs into businesses. What are you going to be the best at?
3) Get Press
Another strategy I used to create awareness and build links was to get media attention. I put keywords relating to my niche into a Google News Alert (a free tool that lets you know when a new story comes out around a particular keyword) , found news stories that dealt with the entrepreneurs I was profiling and contacted the reporters to congratulate them on a great article. I also offered them my insights and added them to a media list that I created in Excel. From then on I would send them a press release every two weeks that dealt with a new famous entrepreneur story on my website.
I also submitted the stories to free online PR directories and did some research as to how to write an effective press release and experimented with different headlines. This led to articles being written about my website in the New York Times, Globe and Mail (Canada’s most respected daily newspaper), the Dallas Morning News and countless other publications. It also led to television and radio appearances. Each time I gave them great stories as well as promoted my website. Always remember to ask for a link back from the media outlet. They are usually very highly ranked and the link can help drive your search engine rankings.
4) Social Networking Sites
Social networking is all the rage now but it’s more than just hype. An effective social networking campaign can help drive tremendous amounts of traffic as well as build links to your site. I haven’t personally gotten much from sites like Facebook and MySpace but the news and bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon, Digg, and del.icio.us have been fantastic traffic and link generators for my website. The key I’ve found is to start off with quality content and then get the community to help you promote it.
For example, at the end of last year I compiled a list of the Top 50 SEO Posts of 2007 (Darren’s Secret Confessions of a Link-A-Holic made the list). It was a list that brought genuine value to people and saved readers a lot of time. Instead of having to dig into each blog themselves we did the work for them to find the best posts on SEO of the year. Once we finished the top 50 we let everyone on the list know about it. Many of them blogged about it and linked back to us, others submitted it to StumbleUpon and other social networking sites. In the first week of the list being out StumbleUpon alone sent me over 5,000 visitors to that one page!
6) Directories, Craigslist, Wikipedia
When I first started the site I submitted it to all the relevant directories that I could find. In all honesty I didn’t get many hits from them except from Business.com, but I viewed it as a link building exercise that would eventually pay off. If you run any kind of events, you need to also put them on Craigslist. We run a number of offline events for entrepreneurs and Craigslist helped send us a decent amount of traffic. Their pages also rank well and you can include a link back to your site from the postings you create.
Wikipedia is another excellent source worth checking out. Like every other webmaster, before Wikipedia put nofollows on their links I was trying to get all my pages listed as external links on the famous entrepreneur related pages. The result? The editors quickly removed my links and wrote an email to me warning me to stop. I did stop posting but was surprised to find out that I kept getting traffic from Wikipedia. It turns out that a number of my readers had used my articles as references for different famous entrepreneurs. As a result they included a link and it was driving traffic! It again all comes down to being the best at something and dominating your niche. If I didn’t have good content then I would not have received the links from Wikipedia.
7) Give People An Incentive To Link to You
As wonderful as it is to get bloggers and other website owners to link to you on the merit of your content alone, sometimes they need a push and an incentive to do so. As a result of building a popular website I began recruiting other experts to write for my site. Once you build up credibility in your niche you will have people who want to be associated with you. As an example, I wonder how many people are trying to guest blog for Darren while he’s gone?
For my own site, if the articles my guest authors submitted were relevant and valuable, I put them up. I then wrote to my authors and told them that if they linked back to my site from theirs I would give them even more exposure on my site and list them as Premium Partners. The incentive worked for many of them and I quickly built even more backlinks to my site from reputable experts. It sometimes takes thinking outside the box, but if you can find a way to help another webmaster in return for them linking to you, the extra incentive can make the difference between getting and not getting that all important link.
Additional Link Building Tips
- Try to get links to your internal pages and not just your home page. The more you have to your internal pages, the better those pages will rank. For example, I have 22,938 Google-recognized links to my site but only 8,075 of them go to my homepage. The rest all go to internal pages on my website.
- Get as high a Page Rank link as you can from the websites who profile you. A link on a Page Rank 1 internal page versus a Page Rank 5 homepage will make a big difference to your site. Just because two pages are on the same domain name, it doesn’t mean that they carry the same link value.
- When getting a link, don’t tell people what anchor text to use (the blue text that is underlined). If all your links have the same anchor text you can get banned from Google for that keyword. I always ask my link partners to use anchor text that they feel best describes what my website is all about.
- As soon as you get a link, tell Google about it through their Add URL page. It’s another free tool that Google offers and the sooner Google knows about the links to you, the sooner you will rise up in the rankings.
- Don’t give up! Link building is an ongoing process and requires patience. It’s better to work for 1 hour a day for 24 days than to work for 24 hours straight and burn yourself out. If you keep working at it, the links will come!
Good luck and happy link building!
Evan Carmichael is the owner of www.EvanCarmichael.com, the Internet’s #1 resource for small business motivation and strategies.