Intermediate Link Building Tactics & Resolutions for 2009

Last week's article on basic link-building tactics and resolutions for 2009 discussed common tactics that each and every Web marketer should employ. Tactics such as press release distribution, guest authoring content, weblog commenting, leveraging donations and focusing on creating authority documents to share socially are all very practical, effective ways (not to mention well documented) to increase the number and quality of links pointing to your site. There are other, some would argue, more sophisticated tactics however. Some of the techniques included in this article might be familiar to you and some may not, but all will work to gradually influence your website's position on the SERPs. For that reason, let's call them "intermediary" as opposed to "advanced" techniques. Last week's post was so popular that we'll complete the link building trilogy next week with an an article on actual advanced tactics.

Please note that with every link building technique, there is an opportunity to abuse the system, the message or the audience. Website Magazine believes (and we believe you should too) that you reap what you sow. Without further a due, let's look at some intermediary link-building techniques, and some resolutions to make it happen in 2009,

- Design Website Themes & Templates For Your Industry: If you've ever designed a website on your own or paid a web designer to create one (or more) then you know how time consuming it is and in turn how valuable that work is to those who don't have those skills. This is precisely why there is value in designing website themes and templates for your clients, members of your industry and even readers of your weblog. For example, if you're a blogger using WordPress whose content focus is green living and the environment, why not develop a custom WordPress theme with some compelling eco-friendly images for that audience and provide it free to your readers? (Or how about a MySpace background?) If you're a marketing consultant, why not create a free landing page template? Find a target that might be interested in specific themes, customize it to fit their needs (and corresponding appropriate images), and you might be surprised how many will use it. Take that effort a step further and submit your design theme or template to sites like, and others.  Include some content in a sidebar or footer to show others where the blogger got that template, and you'll receive natural traffic and a few inbound links to boot. Resolve this year to produce at least one theme each month and distribute that content to the aforementioned services. You'll find that by the end of the year, you just might have enough content to create a standalone resource (and ultimately secure more inbound links).

- Develop Widgets/Plugins for Users: Widgets and plugins help your audience by providing them with a feature that adds functionality to their site or adds content for their own users. More importantly though for our purposes here, links to your site through the use of widgets and plugins can come in two ways: directly, by embedding your URL (in a "this widget is sponsored by" manner) and the method that should be preferred, having those using the widget or plugin link back to you directly in the form of a (isn't this a great widget/plug-in type) post. In fact, the sole reason that some Internet marketers are popular at all (or perceived that way) is that they focus on releasing free, value added services, widgets, plugins, software, etc. to their users. Over time, these individuals (more often they are actually groups) can secure thousands of links. Thinking strategically about you anchor text and where links come from matters a great deal, so should you choose to develop a widget, plugin, etc. think about the value it ultimately provides your core service.  There are several places that you can find developers to develop custom widgets, WordPress plugins or even modules for CMS systems like Drupal.  Services like RentACoder and oDesk (even list thousands of qualified personnel to make your idea (and link campaign) a reality. Resolve this year to create at least one widget, plugin or module for your user base. They will thank you, and the links will come.

- Purchase Existing Domains: One of the fastest ways to develop incoming links (and more importantly traffic) is to purchase domain names and redirect them to your existing site. Finding sites that are recently expired is a popular tactic and actually quite simple if you know where to look. Services like SnapNames and FreshDrops specialize in this service area and leveraging them to identify sites with potential (existing inbound links, age of domain, oftentimes existing traffic or the Google PageRank) is the sole responsibility of many SEOs. Another option is to use companies like domain auction/marketplace services such as SEDO and others that specialize in helping individuals purchase (and sell) domains and have quite a bit of background information available on each property to help make sure you're making a good decision. Clearly, owning thousands of domain names could be cost-prohibitive as would developing sites on those domains but the value proposition (especially in highly-competitive industries) is most certainly worth it. For example, would you spend seven thousand dollars if you could make seventy-thousand? Many people would (and just between you and I) and do. An alternative might be to purchase links, which is more of an advanced technique we'll discuss next week. This year, resolve to acquire some existing domains in your niche. Not only will you gain valuable links pointing to your site, you'll also gain a new audience - and that in the end is much more important to your success.

- Start an Affiliate Program:  Starting your own affiliate program is a sure-fire way (and my personal favorite) to build links. The more successful you are with your affiliate program, the greater it will influence your website's position on the search results pages. With an active audience, in short order you could find that hundreds if not thousands of sites might just link to your pages. Sure, you may need to recruit them, but in the process of doing so, you'll also find a few links along the way. For example, say you launch an affiliate program and decide to head over to an industry-specific forum to make an announcement about it. Not only will you find a few affiliates, but you'll also get a link from the forum. There are also many high-quality affiliate program directories to list your affiliate program (and your site in) such as Associate Programs, AffiliteScout and AffiliateSeeking. While many merchants shy away from affiliate programs, as they don't want to provide a share of the revenue, you'll often find that those most successful merchants do offer them and don't use an affiliate network to do it, instead opting for hosted (commercial or proprietary) solutions that can be operated on their own server, managed by internal resources and by all accounts, controlled and generally overseen by those concerned with the bottom line. There are many affiliate software program offerings available such as iDevAffiliate , but the best possible solution is to either use an ecommerce shopping cart with an affiliate module (such as OSCommerce) or one which provides affiliate support by default (such as Volusion).

Keep in mind, these tactics and techniques fall between basic and advanced (which we'll cover next week in greater detail). Last week's post on basic link-building tactics and resolutions received quite a few comments, so please share your thoughts on this week's list of intermediary link building techniques and your resolutions for making them happen.