Basic Link Building Tactics and Resolutions for 2009

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Even in the age of hyper-personalization and geo-location in search, the number of inbound links pointing to your site is still the most important aspect of developing and securing top search engine positions. That's right, it's not about internal linking structure, keyword density or the presence or absence of title tags - it's about getting websites to link to yours. So how do you do that in 2009?

Link building hasn't really changed much over the years and it probably won't in 2009 either. Link building involves getting other Web sites to link to your site. The creativity we apply to link building however is what separate the high-rankers from the non-rankers. Think of link-building as a word of mouth recommendation; the more dramatic, compelling and interesting the recommendation, the more believable and attractive the proposition of visiting becomes for the user.

In the eyes of search engines, it's both the quality and quantity of recommendations that matter. It's not about making sure your site is worth a link (it is expected that our sites satisfies even the most critical user), it's about going out and getting them. That concept understood, let's look at few basic link building tactics you can (and perhaps should) employ in 2009. We'll push the envelope in an article next week about "Genuine Advanced Link Building" - look for that article early next week.

Attention Website Magazine readers - share your link building tactics and resolutions with other readers by commenting below!

Write and Distribute Press Releases Frequently: You very well might have the next great idea or that next amazing product that everyone needs to have, but if no one knows about it then you're pretty much spinning your wheels. One way to spread the word is through the use of press releases. Website Magazine has written extensively on how to use press releases to secure publicity and it has remained one of the best, yet most basic, ways to get links (and to do it quickly). Follow the guidance on press releases we've outlined previously, build a working list of established media outlets and bloggers and pursue their attention (politely) through every means possible (including on social networks). In 2009, resolve to send out press releases to your list directly via email or using services such as PRWeb, BusinessWire or

Become a Guest Blogger: One of the easiest ways to get attention on the Web (regardless of the industry you are in) is to work for free. Now I know that this idea might go against every fiber of your business-savvy being, but the value of doing something (which in itself is extremely valuable) for someone else works and it works well. Guest bloggers have a captive audience and an unmatched opportunity to build a viable relationship with an audience that is not their own. Resolve in this new year to be a guest blogger a few times, if only to test the waters. Identify blogs or email newsletters which you think your message would be valuable to and offer to share your expertise (for free of course) in exchange for a link or even some advertising. Take the idea of guest blogging further by recruiting your own guest bloggers - you'll be shocked at what kind of promotional effort people will put in on your behalf! 

Share Your Insights Through Commenting: One of my favorite down-time activities is writing comments on blogs that I find using the StumbleUpon toolbar. While the traffic that StumbleUpon itself sends is of the lowest quality imaginable in terms of providing conversions, the service is excellent at helping users discover sites that they might find interesting or valuable. Search the service using individual keywords and couple that effort with comment tracking services such as CoComment for the purpose of measurement. The benefit of course is that you are identified as a participant in the conversation, which positively impacts your future link building prospects. If by chance the weblog you leave a comment on uses "follow" links instead of "no-follow" links, all the better for your link building efforts.

Do Something Nice:  If you've got an advertising budget, consider shifting a portion of those funds to secure natural (or at least semi-natural) links. Say for instance that you use an open-source software that requests donations. Why not make a donation and ask for a link from the developers site? Or say for example that you write a weblog on music like WM's Senior Editor Mike Phillips; why not consider writing a post on how to give back to music charities - someone will notice and grant you a link! Resolve to reap what you sow in 2009 and you'll be that much closer to Web success at the start of 2010.

Create Authority Documents and Share Socially: An authority document is one that people look to for guidance on a) how to do something, or b) how to do something better. Content does not exist in a vacuum however - it won't pull people on to your site on its own merit. You must share that information through an active network of Web friends and colleagues to make it stick in the Web's sphere of influence. That's why Website Magazine and others spend so much time discussing social news/bookmarking sites like Digg and Delicious, micro-blogging communities like Twitter and social networks like Facebook. These are opportunities where one can share their ideas and their content. Remember, authority does not happen overnight - it happens gradually with sudden increases (bursts) of influence. Resolve in 2009 to develop one well-thought out authority document each month of 2009 and, build out your social profile and share your content on as many social networks as possible, encouraging you friends to do the same.


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LewisM 01-02-2009 4:12 PM

I'm a Webmaster rather than a developer. This idea of exchanging links is what I've been doing for a year with the one commercial website I maintain.

We are an RV dealer in Florida. I'm trying to build online market share for the dealer (organically). I had not considered blogs or "guest" blogging.

I would appreciate any advice in this area.

Lynn Northrup, CPA 01-02-2009 4:18 PM

Thank you for a very informative article. Even with this great advice, you need to be discplined and determined to stay with the process. I like the advice about creating authorative documents and have this in my website strategic plan. Keep up the good work

CyberSiteSearch 01-02-2009 4:35 PM

I've used to share for "authority documents".

MikeH 01-02-2009 8:22 PM

Tips for Link Building

•  Ensure all your current online advertising or inbound links are linking to your current domain name.

•  Trade links with partner businesses, such as your local automotive business partners (i.e. body shops and parts shops).

•  The best quality links are from similar/complementary sites, such as local auto club sites or your regional OEM dealer association site.

•  Links should contain text that describes your site to the search engines. For example, a Hummer dealer might use keywords such as Sport Utility Vehicle, H2, H3, all-terrain vehicle, 4 wheel drive, etc.

•  Links surrounded by relevant additional text will reinforce the link’s relevancy and can be even more beneficial. For example: linking from the automotive classifieds’ pages to your local newspaper and radio sites.

•  Start your linking strategy at directories such as Yahoo! and DMOZ Open Directory. Some directories such as Yahoo! charge on an annual basis.

•  Don’t participate in paid link exchanges for the sole purpose of manipulating your ranking, because it is discouraged by the search engines.

•  Be patient! Building quality links over time is generally the most effective way to obtain quality links for your website.

Nicholas Ward 01-03-2009 9:39 AM

Lewis, you read Website Magazine, too? We use our homepage blog to promote our advertisers. I'll have Kent give you a call.

Here's an example of guest blogging. I think it would be great if you wrote an authority piece for our blog. Something timely, like how to get your RV out of winter storage. I'm sure you have a wealth of knowledge about RV care. Have you thought about sharing some of it on RVer sites?

Great article. Content is still king. I have also seen the authority document work on user forums. It work's like this. Find a forum that's relative (and well ranked), and just start answering people's questions. You become the resident expert, and search engines will link to forums before other social networking conversations.

Mike is correct. Be patient. Building links is is like building relationships. It takes time and you want to make sure that its a good match.

HasnainZ 01-03-2009 2:15 PM

All are great point but especially the ones about authority articles (that some authors also refer as pillar articles), and using social networks. Writing great press releases remains an effective strategy. Write social media press releases with link to social networks and having video, podcast and sharing options.

Hasnain Zaheer (

Shari Sultana 01-05-2009 9:54 AM

This is a great article about an often confusing topic. Thanks for addressing it. I also agree with Mike that link building takes time and patience.

I was a guest blogger once and found it very helpful for building quality links to my own website as well as providing the host with some quality content for his own site. It was a win-win for both of us.

I'm looking forward to your article next week. :)

StuartH 01-05-2009 11:55 AM

This is some advice for the RV dealer in Indiana.  Our company creates niche content, primarily for females.  I use our arts and crafts site as an example.  The site has a blog,  We use WordPress for the blog, it is free software.  I suggest you set up a blog and comment every day on things happening in the RV world.  I just did a Google search for "RV Blogs"  and see quite a few.  I suggest you make nice posts/comments to these blogs and ask some folks to be a guest blogger for your site.  We just started our craft site, but we use the same formula for each site.  For crafting, we have unique original craft, sewing, scrapbook and related content on  Our blog is where we get guest bloggers, comment on craft trends, etc. I hope this helps.  

ReneeG 01-06-2009 10:13 AM

Link building has been one of the hardest things for me with  I am adding a huge writers resource page, that I hope is useful enough to bring writers back, and that the resources listed are courteous enough to link back to me as well.  

I also politely ask all our reviewers and our authors who do interviews on our site to link back to us as well.  

According to all my research that is the correct method, but I have to say it seems to be a very slow process.

We also are very active on all our social media sites as well.  Now we are working on PR and more press coverage.  Hopefully some guest blogging and interviews will help boost the process.

I am open to any other suggestions....

JohnMicknal 01-06-2009 5:35 PM

I am learning how to build a website and I found the article on link building very helpful. Thank you!

Don Shenton 01-09-2009 7:33 PM

The two big items in our business of building websites is Content and Link building.

Thanks for your good articals


BradT 01-09-2009 8:56 PM

Thanks for this great blog.  Even with all the fancy stuff going on online now, it's basics like good link building that provide real meat to the overall successful ranking of a site.  Keep up the great work on this site. thanks.

LauraJean 01-10-2009 9:03 PM

Thanks for the great ideas, and the comments about giving back and sharing knowledge as a guest blogger.

Excellent Article!


DavidM 01-16-2009 9:51 PM

Thank you very much for this very useful article.  I am new in the link building area.  I would like to know where do I start to build link for our company website?

SaifulB 01-16-2009 9:53 PM

Thank you for this great article.  Would like to know and learn more about the link build for our company website.

SriG 01-24-2009 1:38 PM

If someone wants to write fitness related stuff for a blog you can do so at

Eileen Burick 01-27-2009 6:32 PM

This information is very timely and relevant in light of the fact that so many companies have come to rely exclusively on the internal linking and key word structure as the final word in how they approach SEO even to the exclusion of traditional media (off-line publications, TV and radio) which are also still a valid tactic to driving website traffic.

Web site design is also impacted by these issues, since any site that's developed exclusively in Flash to take advantage of the visual elegance and powerful animation capabilities (not available in HTML) has been generally scoffed at by "experts" as completely ineffective in placing for any first page organic ranking.

By relying on external electronic "PR," i.e. "link building," -- akin to the process in the "real world" -- this approach to SEO allows a website to have it all -- visual flexibility to utilize state-of-the-art creative techniques while enabling high organic rankings.

Thanks for articulating these concepts and bringing them so clearly into the mainstream conversation!

ScottC 01-29-2009 9:55 AM

Thanks for this great article. It has given me some great ideas for how to direct our Comms unit to help promote the site after a major redesign.

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