There’s a ton of advice out on the web right now about getting links for your website or blog, almost TOO MUCH advice. Primarily it’s because link building is extremely important to the success of a site. No matter what search engines do to their algorithms, link popularity will remain important. And depending on the type of link, it can generate a lot of direct traffic to your site.
How do you really gather all this advice and actually make an actionable improvement to your site? In order to help this process I’ve broken down building the link popularity of your site into seven activities to perform over a week. Stop procrastinating today and kick your traffic into gear by building your link popuarity in 7 days. If you’ve already done some of this, skip it and move on.
Day 1: Make sure your site is linkworthy!
In order to get links from human-edited directories, authority sites, or even personal bloggers your site has to be worthy of a link. On this first day go through your site and make sure your site meets at least most of the following qualifications:
If your site doesn’t have orignal content you’re in trouble for getting anyone to link to you. You need to your own unique articles, content, forums, something that makes your site unique.
You not only need original content, it has to be useful to people as well. There’s no point in putting up original content that’s worthless. Make some effort to have real content that people benefit from.
You’ll need your real contact information on your site in order to get directories to trust you, and allow other sites to know that you’re not a splog or spam site, and it helps if they’d like to contact you about a link exchange.
A Decent Design
This isn’t always a necessitiy, but it helps if you have a unique or professional site design. It again helps give the appearance that your site is real and provides good information.
A Links Page or Blogroll
It helps to have a links page or blogroll so that other sites can ask for a reciprocal link, and it can make people more likely to link to you when you’re linking to others.
If your site doesn’t meet most of these qualifications, get them solved first. You don’t want to waste effort trying to get links when you’ve got some basic things wrong that are hindering the likelihood that people will link.
Day 2: Get links from the top trusted directories.
The key to getting your site listed and trusted by search engines is to get listed in the top directories. There are many search engine experts that feel that directories have lost a little bit of their power, but the general consensus and evidence seems to be that they still help your site rank well in search engines, and they drive a minor amount of traffic.
Unfortunately, a couple of these directories charge a fee to be listed. If your goal for your website is to make money, then the investment to get listed in the engines that charge is worthwhile. If it’s just your personal site and you don’t plan on generating revenue, then you can pass on those directories.
Take this day to submit your site to the following top directories:
Yahoo Directory – This directory is one of the oldest and most trusted. It does cost a non-refundable annual $299.00 fee to submit your site, have it evaluated within seven days, and stay listed. It’s the most expensive of the bunch, but worthwhile if you want to make money from your site. They do have a free submission option, but there’s no guarantee your site will get looked at in a timely manner, if ever.
Open Directory Project – The Open Directory is old and trusted, but can be very frustrating. It’s free to submit, but each category is run by a volunteer editor, and there’s no guarantee they’ll ever look at your site. Even if they do, you don’t get any response if they list you or not. However, a link here is valuable and it only takes a few minutes.
Microsoft bCentral – This small business directory from Microsoft is cheaper than Yahoo at $49 per year for a guaranteed evaluation and listing.
Business.com – For a $199.00 annual fee you can be listed in Business.com’s directory. If your site is focused on business, it could be a good choice.
Day 3: Get links from smaller directories or niche directories.
After you’ve submitted to the top directories, you can achieve more link popularity by submitting your site to some of the smaller directories as well as some authority sites in your particular topic.
Here’s a list of 40 top directories basically ordered by link popularity.
It’s up to you how thorough you want to be with that, if you’re really looking to improve that link popularity, go for all of them.
Additionally, many topics have directories that are specific to those topics. If there is one in your topic, it’s definitely one that you have to go after.
Day 4: Use Google “link:” command to see who links to similar/competitive sites and find authority sites in your topic.
It’s time to go after some links on sites within your topic. But how do you find out what sites are willing to link? By using Google and using the link query you can find those sites. If you know of a competitor or a site within your topic, type “link:sitename.com” and the results you get are all the sites linking to “sitename.com”.
You can then visit the sites and see if they have a way of requesting links. If not, send a personal email asking the site owner if they link to relevant sites in your topic. Be polite, don’t spam, and be honest. You can also offer a link in return if you think that’s what it will take.
Day 5: Search using keywords users would use to get to your site.
An additional way to find sites that may drive traffic your way, is to search using keywords that your targeted users would use to find you. If your site is about laptop computers, use terms like “laptop computers”, “laptop”, “dell laptop”, etc. and try and get links from the sites that show up in the top 10-20 results. These often are authority sites, but they should be getting search traffic that can end up trickling to you through links.
Day 6: Press release, article bylines, blog comments, and forums.
Now that you’re through the directories and sites in your industry, it’s time to generate some links through unconventional means. This can be done in a few ways:
If you have anything newsworthy, a press release can be a good way to generate some links. You do need a legitimate angle to have a press release. Often times some interesting data, new features on your site, a site launch, or other interesting news can be worthy of a press release.
PRWeb.com is a good way to send out your press release. What will happen is various sites will list the release, and if you get lucky an actual publication in your topic may pick up the story and post it on their site. Naturally, your press release should contain links to your site.
If you can create some decent articles in your topic, you can post them to article directories with a byline that links to your site. By doing this you are allowing other sites to use your articles, but they usually are required to leave any links to your site intact.
Are there any blogs you read? Or any blogs in your topic? If so, visit these blogs and make relevant comments on blog posts. Most blogs allow the ability for you to include your site link with your name when you’re leaving comments. Obviously the more popular the blog the more traffic and link popularity it will drive to your site.
Similar to blog comments, if there are forums that you participate in it’s a great idea to include your site URL in your signature. Most forums allow at least one URL in your signature. This can lead to relevant traffic to your site, and a little bit of link popularity.
Day 7: Create a highly linkable article, and use social news and bookmarking sites. (AKA Linkbait)
It’s really not new to create content that is very valuable and linkable, but the ability to promote it through social bookmarking and news sites is fairly new. Identify something that you can write a very interesting article about. It should be either very unique, informative, a how-to guide, or something along those lines in order to get any traction.
After completing this article, submit it to the following sites to see if it can gain popularity:
Digg – The top social news site. A front page listing on Digg can drive a huge amount of traffic and links.
del.icio.us – The top social bookmarking site. If you get enough bookmarks and hit the popular page here you’ll gain a lot of traffic and links.
Reddit – Similar format to Digg, just not quite as popular.
Netscape Netscape is now a social news site, and is growing in popularity.
If you want to take it even further, this article from SEOMoz has a more comprehensive list.
Even if your article doesn’t “catch fire” on one of these sites, each time you submit it is a link to your site that can drive traffic and help in link popularity.