Any company looking to participate in a Search Engine Optimization effort understands right away that it’s a balance among good quality content, internal linking, and links back to your content from outside sources that make up the parts of the search engine ranking algorithm and a good combination of all 3 will result in very nice ranking. For our purposes here, I’d like to focus on gathering external links.
The traditional school of thought is one where you produce "link bait" to generate your backlinks. That is, you produce content that is so amazing that it is just begging to be linked back to from other sources. This is actually an integral part of any SEO strategy. It’s much easier that have 100 or so sites see your content and link back to it than to go through the process of acquiring those links in a more laborious way. What surprises me, though, is that organizations stop at the link bait or content phase and don’t consider an active linking strategy. The only thing I can think of is that many SEO professionals see this as evil or "black hat" in some way. I am here to say that this is definitely not the case and active linking should be an integral component of your SEO strategy.
What am I talking about?
This is where you are trolling many great sources on the internet looking for an opportunity to drop a link back to that wonderful content that you just created. If you think about it, the content is the product and the active linking strategy is your advertising campaign for that content.
Below are 5 great places to look to drop links:
Comments on related blogs – This is the easiest place to leave a link. Blogs are also active crawled by search engines multiple times a day. Leaving a thoughtful comment on a blog subject will add value to the overall conversation and will provide others in the same area as you with the opportunity to find your site. Oh yeah, you’ll get a link, too.
Forum posts and replies – This is an extension to blog comments. Most forum environments allow you to include a signature with links. Most don’t, however, allow you to drop links in the content itself. Although there is no gatekeeper like with blogs, it is still critical to include thoughtful dialogue. This will make sure others will want to reply to your reply or initial post. You will also further establish yourself as a thought leader in the space and can gain valuable readers.
Question and Answer Sites – Sites such as Yahoo! Answers serve as an information marketplace where those that have questions and those that have answers can come together and help each other. By searching for questions related to your subject area and providing thoughtful answers, you will further establish yourself as a SME. In these environments, you can leave a link to your source. This is a great place to drop a link to your content. These sites are also crawled quite frequently and will provide a good source of secondary traffic.
Guest blogging – OK, here is where you have to form relationships with webmasters on other related sites. After gaining mutual respect and some level of rapport, you can offer to guest blog on their site. By doing this, you get the opportunity to drop a link to your site (with their permission, of course) and you also further establish yourself as a subject matter expert.
Social Media outlets – Social Media sites like Facebook and Twitter are excellent places to drop links to new content. The community engagement you already have formed through these channels produce an audience very targeted for your content. Besides generating direct traffic from these channels, social media sites are also actively crawled by search engines and, although it’s still a little unclear exactly what the impact is, we know that links on social media sites do have a positive impact.
There is nothing new with these methods. They have, unfortunately, been used by many black hatters out there that have put a taint to any active linking strategy. I’m not recommending anything like this at all. You’ll notice I used the term "thoughtful and useful" when describing your interaction through these channels. It’s important for your linking strategy, relationship with Google, and preservation of your corporate brand to always add value to other’s content.
Well, as Mama used to say, "Don’t let one good apple destroy the batch". Although these methods may have been misused, they are still very useful and still produce very nice results.