Link Building: Finding Appropriate Partners

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Hi Dan,
I enjoy reading your articles. As with most information, I feel hungry for more depth. One of the lines in your “Expanding Content For More Traffic” begs a question.

Expanding Content For More Traffic

“…and working on getting other sites to link to yours,” Yeah…okay…”round up the usual suspects!” How about an article on this (I’d bet there’s one in an archive somewhere, huh?) that goes into methods not involving ‘links for credits’ plans or ‘swap banners’ – why? Cheesy. Obvious. Expected. Ineffective. My site is a directory of info for Southern Oregonians – and anyone in the world with an itching desire to know about Southern Oregon – and I’m having a hard time finding an *appropriate* site to trade links with (or that is willing to put a link without trading…). By appropriate, I mean someone who is not in direct competition with me. I’m kinda stymied, done what I think is right, but have hit a brick wall. Any suggestions?

Tim Coney,
Southern Oregon Directory

I spend a lot of time trying to cram a lot of information into a few hundred words, but there’s always something left out. Feel free to keep asking questions until you’ve got enough to work with. I do have a few articles out there on link building, but I’d rather dig into the specifics here, since you’ve sent me your URL.

In your case, the “usual suspects” should be, first of all, anyone with a website listed in your directory or linked from your site. In addition, I’d look for other sites that provide regional information in Oregon. I am talking about links swaps, but in the first instance you are already linking to them.

If you create a Yahoo-style directory for Southern Oregon, and simply request a link back from sites that add a listing, you should find that your links build naturally. Instead of asking them to link, you can email all the localized websites you can find and offer them a free listing in your directory.

To be more specific, this page: http://www.southern-oregon-directory.com/southern-oregon-resources/resources.htm offers to list non-profit sites, if they will email you their information. I would replace that email link with a form, where they can provide the information, let you know which category they think they belong in, provide contact information for you, and let you know if they’ll be linking to your site.

You could also make it easier to link to you, by providing a “link to us” page, with a couple sample descriptions and linking code, maybe even a few small graphics. You can offer a different graphic for those listed in the directory (saying something like “proudly listed in the Southern Oregon Directory”).

Another excellent way to get links is to run a “site of the month” award. This is also a great way to get free PR. Send a press release each month (yes, this is a whole other subject I know) to the local papers for the business editor, and provide information about your directory and the local site that won the award. Local news that they don’t have to go find themselves is always good newspaper fodder. You might even find that they ask you to make it a regular feature. And of course, nearly everyone who wins such an award will link to your directory if they haven’t already.

These are some thoughts, and hopefully a place to start. Your feedback and additional questions are welcome.

Dan Thies Author,
SEO Fast Start

Dan Thies is a well-known writer and teacher on search engine marketing. He offers consulting, training, and coaching for webmasters, business owners, SEO/SEM consultants, and other marketing professionals through his company, SEO Research Labs. His next online class will be a link building clinic beginning March 22

Link Building: Finding Appropriate Partners
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