Link Building for the Time & Resource Strapped

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In business, we often hear that it’s not what we know, but who we know that can help us find success.

As the business world and the Internet become increasingly intertwined, it’s becoming apparent just how relevant that platitude is to the success of Web professionals too. Particularly when it comes to search marketing, as it is necessary to accumulate inbound links from other sites to their own. Thankfully, a seemingly infinite number of methods exist for building citations for your website, and you can find a big list of them in Website Magazine's Mastering Search channel (http://wsm.co/MasterSearch).

However, the average small- to medium-sized business typically doesn’t have a significant amount of time or resources to dedicate to gathering links or citations, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. What it does mean is that they should take a basic approach to link building that will greatly improve their SEO efforts without requiring major investments in their most valuable resources (time and money). Fortunately, there is a simple approach to link building that breaks the practice into two primary categories: content creation and networking. Here’s how you can get started without losing sleep or breaking the bank.

Content

As with all search-related practices, content is the backbone of link building efforts. Content drives interest in your site, establishes you as an authority and, ultimately, gets you links. Thus, you must establish a content plan for your website. To do this, identify and learn about your target audience. By doing so, you’ll know what kind of content is valuable to them so you can offer unique insights they will want to share with others.

Before anyone will want to look at your content, they have to find it, which is why you should also identify widely searched keywords related to your niche that signify user intent, and then include them in your site’s content. Using these terms helps interested and relevant parties discover you, a crucial (and relatively easy) step in the link building process.

Once you know what you want to write about and who you want to write to, it’s time to start publishing content. Arguably, the best way to do this is by starting a blog and updating it regularly. You can blog as often as multiple times daily or as infrequently as weekly, but keep a consistent, regular schedule to make your audience feel familiar and comfortable. Don’t forget to make your content easily linkable or shareable (usually with social share buttons), so that visitors who enjoy it don’t have to work too hard to share it with others.

However, while it’s important you make an effort to publish plenty of your own material, if you’re timestrapped, you can also publish guest blog posts from other experts to contribute to your site’s content. This is also a way to get easy links, as the writers usually want to link to their article on your own site.

Networking

The other major aspect of good link building practice is to actively network in order to meet industry experts and useful allies who can supply you with the links you desire. Here are a few ways to network and promote your content.

Directories

While getting your articles on directories is no longer a celebrated SEO tactic (thanks to more complex algorithms that discount duplicate content), it can still get your material noticed. You can submit to article directories (i.e. Squidoo or ArticlesBase), infographic directories (i.e. Visually), presentation directories (i.e. SlideShare) and others. It takes very little time or effort to submit your content; in fact, one great method to increase traffic and save yourself some time is to only submit part of an article (or one installment in a series) and include a link to the rest of it on your site.

When submitting to directories, submit to niche directories in your industry and try to be listed in more than one category. Also, make sure you select well-rated directories that will add value to your site and ensure quality links.


The Post-SEO world? In many ways, traditional SEO is dying, meaning all of the time and energy Web workers have invested tweaking and optimizing their sites to move up the SERPs is mostly for naught. Fortunately, you can still raise awareness, increase traffic and improve the bottom line of your website; if you’re willing to give up the old SEO dream, that is. Read more here.


 

Research

You should also take some time to find some sites that operate in your niche that you would like to provide with links. You can usually find these sites by doing a bit of research into the other pages that your audience tends to visit, so a good place to start looking is at your referral traffic. See where your own visitors are coming from, such as other websites or directories, and then visit those pages to see where else they’re sending users. Some of these could provide good link leads from more established sites. Finding the best sites to target shouldn’t be difficult, because as a responsible publisher, you’ve already studied your audience and know what kind of content they like.

Link (In and Out)

Linking out to other sites is bound to get you attention, so address relevant and popular websites in you niche by linking to their content on your site, particularly if you feel like you have something valuable to add to what they’re saying and want to engage in a dialogue. Just be sure that you’re strategic about how you do it, especially if the publisher gets a lot of links already. Grab their attention with a great headline and tagline and let your killer content do the rest.

You can also sculpt and define the most important content on your site by using internal links. These are links on your pages that direct users to other content on your site. Not only do they provide some of the SEO benefits of links, while allowing you to control the anchor text, but they help users and other websites identify the content on your site that you think is the most important. Plus, it takes almost no extra effort to include them.

You can also include internal links by linking to relevant pages from other content on your site. This provides the SEO benefits of links, while allowing you to control the anchor text. Plus, it takes almost no extra effort to include these links when you’re publishing content.

Social Media

It’s hard to do anything on the Web these days without factoring in social media, which provides plenty of ways to secure links and network, including bookmarking your website on popular social media sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon and Reddit. To ensure that users will be interested in your content, make sure you have a catchy headline that appeals to each site’s user base, and don’t forget to include keywords in the title.

But don’t discount mainstays like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. On these social networks, you can publish a link to your content and encourage users to share it, which will put it in front of more eyes and help you build a credible profile outside of your own website.

Time to Get Building

Collecting inbound links is essential for SEO. Fortunately, it doesn’t take much to get started doing some basic link building for your website. All you need is an awareness of your target audience, a commitment to publishing content regularly and a few minutes each day to share your expertise with others in your niche in order to establish valuable connections.

But, as with most things, having the right tools can help improve efficiency and just generally make things go more smoothly. So do yourself a favor and check out Website Magazine’s Master List of SEO Tools at http://wsm.co/SEOList.

About the Author: Michael Garrity is an associate editor at Website Magazine, focusing primarily on search, design and development, and affiliate marketing.


Don't Miss WM's Master List of SEO Tools!
Link building isn’t the only part of SEO that can be time consuming. In fact, for the most part, SEO makes up one of the biggest investments that a website owner or webmaster can put into trying to build up a Web business. But, as with most things, having the right tools can help improve efficiency and just generally make things go more smoothly. So do yourself a favor and check out Website Magazine’s Master List of SEO Tools at http://wsm.co/SEOList.

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