SEO Step Five of Ten: Link Building

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Welcome to part five in this ten part SEO series. The ten parts of the SEO process we will be covering are:

  1. Keyword Research & Selection
  2. Competitor Analysis
  3. Site Structure
  4. Content Optimization
  5. Link Building
  6. Social Media
  7. PPC
  8. Statistics Analysis
  9. Conversion Optimization
  10. Keeping It Up

Note: Part five is a reprint of a Semmy winning article written by Debra Mastaler on link building. It is of course reprinter with permission an Debra will be the special guest on the accompanying Webmaster Radio show. But without furter ado – let’s get to it

Help! I’m New, I Need Links, What Can I Do?

I took a telephone call last week from a woman who was looking to hire a link builder for a new site in a very competitive niche. I’m under contract to a business in the same industry so I passed but we had a nice chat before I sent her along with my standard list of link building referrals.

Several days went by and I heard from her again, this time in a state of panic. Seems everyone she contacted was unavailable, and she was convinced it was because her industry was a competitive one. Could I please give her an honest assessment of her website and tell her if that was indeed the case?

Well, no. I feel for her situation but in this particular field I’m under contract to a competitor and as a result, obligated to focus only on them. But I did refer her to a usability specialist and suggested her situation is probably more a result of link builders being taken rather than uninterested.

Competitive industries tend to be established industries so it stands to reason they have linking staffs in place and link builders tied up. If that’s the case, what can new sites in a competitive niche do to attract links?

To begin, do all the "foundational" link building every other site starts out doing before branching into the more indepth promotional linking:

  • Apply to the Yahoo! directory (cost – moderate)
  • Submit to solid directories such as Joe Ant, GoGuides, BOTW, Ezilon, Rubberstamped and Massive Links. (cost -moderate)
  • Join a Chamber, your industry Association, and clubs. (cost – low to moderate)
  • Issue a press release announcing the new site (cost – low)
  • Buy a list of high-profile journalists and contact directly for one-on-one interviews (cost -moderate)
  • Backlink your competitors and those ranking ahead of you for link and advertising leads. (free)
  • Develop a "how to" video for your site and it’s products. Submit to the video and HowTo sites (cost – low)
  • Buy ad space in offline publications annoucing your new site (cost -moderate to high)
  • Find an established business in a complementary industry to host a co-promotion or buy their mailing list to send out link incentives. (cost – low)
  • Find out who’s podcasting in your niche and buy space, offer to be a guest or donate products to be given away in exchange for either of the above. Look for high visibility podcasts to advertise in, sweeten the deal with incentives. (cost – free to low)
  • Locate the prominent bloggers in your niche and start adding to the industry by commenting on their views. Don’t be obnoxious and don’t do it everyday. Join their community and they’ll join yours. (cost – free)
  • Be sure to incorporate an incentive-to-link program in all your external correspondence such as autoresponders, confirmation emails, reminders etc. (cost free)
  • Create a corporate blog and invite bloggers, journalists, and your customers to contribute. Continually promote the site and it’s writers and in turn, they’ll support your site by linking to it. Don’t forget to add an RSS feed as well. (cost free to low)
  • Be sure to add the blog to all the blog directories as well as the RSS feeds to RSS directories. (Cost – free)

I could go on but you get the picture. While most of these tactics have a small to moderate cost associated with them, others are free. Not only will you gain links but you’ll also gain the much-needed influx of traffic competitive sites need to break into the race.

Other link building resourses:

Link building is a HUGE area. The articles that appears as the runners-up for the SEMMY are also well-worth the read. They are:

SEO Step Five of Ten: Link Building
About Debra Mastaler

Based in Williamsburg Virginia, Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing company focused on providing custom link building campaigns and link training since 2000.

In addition to client projects and link training for companies of all size as well as a number of top SEO firms in the USA, UK and Canada, Debra is a featured guest speaker at the Search Engine Strategies Conference (SES), Search Marketing Expo (SMX) is a guest blogger for Search Engine Land and Search Engine Guide, and has done numerous High Ranking Seminars as well as the Link Building Training session for Search Engine Strategies and the Direct Marketing Association. She is also the Link Building Moderator on the Small Business Ideas Forum as well as Aaron Wall's new SEOBook Community Forum.

WebProNews Writer
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  • http://www.webtacs.net/ Webtacs

    I got to look into this, thanks for the articles.

  • http://lbug.co.uk Lbug

    Backlink your competitors? Does that really work?

  • http://www.bluewavedesignstudio.com Web Design Studio Raleigh

    I think a tip would be to deep link from directories that allow it and not send all the link juice and trust to your home page.  Also when putting links in directories use keywords and your  "name" and not your company URL. By usuing your company url or company name( unless the name has keywords in it) you are wasting the link juice and ranking potential for those inbound links that are located in good communities.

  • http://www.riversagency.com/professional-website-design.html website design chapel hill

    This is becoming more and more important.  But the key is not quantity anymore it’s quality and relevance.

  • http://www.seowebdesignfirm.com/seo-company.htm SEO Syracuse

    Link building is a key to good rankings.  But it must be done slow, and over time.  Buying 1000 links all having the same anchor text can throw a red flag up in google and keey them from counting those links towards rankings.

  • http://boston.seowebdesignfirm.com/ seo agency boston

    Internal links help pass the link juice from page to page. 

  • http://www.jpnetquest.com Norbert

    You normally would have to pay for this kind of information. Excellent article. I am forwarding it now to all of my friends in the business. Thanks!

  • http://www.hotelsinayr.net Hotels in Ayr

    I thought i pretty much knew it all in regards to link building but there are a few things there that i had never considered!  Will add them to my long list of things to do!  I would also add atricle writing to the list, its a great way of getting lots of links including relevant contextual links.

  • http://www.dr-sandy.net BLOGGING GUIDES by Dr. Sandy

    I use three strategies to build links for my blogs-

    1) Write content that has chances to get linked naturally.y niche by commenting on other blogs and related forumsI think content which is unique and containing case studies are frequently linked than others.

    2) Submit my blog to many directories using submitter software.Similarly submit many articles using article submitters.

    3)Be active in my niche by commenting on blogs and related forums.

  • http://brandeedanielle.com Samantha Rhodes

    I have used your advice, and it is working extremly well. Thank  You

  • http://www.hemroidshelp.com hemroids

    Some further additions:

    Write topical guides about your subject and have Work.com or Business.com pick them up

    Create authoritative hubs at hubpages.com and Squidoo.com, then build links to them, and link them naturally to your website.


  • http://www.crbuses.com used buses

    Nice general list, covers most of the essential areas. Make sure to also incorporate a viral marketing and linkbait campaign if the product or service suits it.

  • http://www.marketing-webmaster.com Internet Marketing

    Internal links to dead end pages with nofolow helps.

    Links to "About us", "Privacy", and so on

  • http://www.cool-designs.org ????? ?????

    Submit web site to directories automaticly using auto submitters
    can be harmful if not done wizely.

  • http://travel-guide2india.blogspot.com travelling to India- Famous places in India

    As most of the blogs now use nofollow in their comments, link building is getting more harder and harder.specialy themed links are extremely hard to get.

    getting links natural way takes much time.

  • http://www.websitesforjewelers.com jewelry website design

    Excellent resource Debra. I think another important thing to remember is to never sacrifice your business objective to imcrease your linking game. Too many businesses sacrifice their goals and add hundreds of links to their website which jeopardizes their business.

  • http://www.paraibainternational.com tanzanite

    One important element of link building to touch upon is to make sure that you try to stay away from site monetization before you build a large series of natural and quality links to the website. People are much more likely to link to you if you are a not-for-profit, or do not have ads present on the website.

    • http://www.newfoundlandbusinesses.ca Newfoundland Business Directory

      Thanks for these great tips!

  • http://www.eczemaexzema.com Eczema

    I thought i pretty much knew it all in regards to link building but there are a few things there that i had never considered!  Will add them to my long list of things to do!

  • http://www.iwanted.ca Internet Marketing Strategy Website SEO

    Great resource and excellent job.  You’ve managed to nail all the key points to linkbuilding and provide a great foundation for anyone who is serious about SEO.

  • http://www.hotelsindundee.com Hotels in Dundee

    Some great tips!  I am going to try and make my way through all ten tips for a nice T10 Google ranking!

  • http://www.yjblaw.com/aops/FELA-lawyers/ fela lawyers

    Thanks for the information.  We are starting to learn more about SEO in the office and how we can best use it.

  • http://www.tickethelp.com/ Speeding Ticket

    I agree with one of the comments – offering link buidling and reciprocals before monetizing on the site via advertising, adsense etc is crucial to gain trust (not Google Trust, webmaster trust!).

  • http://www.n2news.com/ FTA Keys

    Great article.  Of particular importance is getting the link foundation you described.  This is a crucial step that I believe many SEO’s still try to cutcorner.  In the long run, getting this foundation will enable you to get more lower quality links in a shorter portion  of time without penalization. 


  • http://www.marketappeal.co.uk/ Link Building Tips

    Are directories still valuable? How many are worth doing? Just the top 5-6 or are there more?

    Also, I find blog and forum comments fairly effective, if done well, i.e. as a genuine attempt to join a conversation, not just spam it with ramdon posts.

    Press releases seem to work well too, although having some real news always helps.

  • http://www.articleblip.com/article/entertainment/dvd-reviews dvd reviews

    Thanks for the great post. Link building is key to getting rankings and indexing large sites well.

  • http://www.webpadesign.com/Service-Pa-Internet-SEO.htm Pennsylvania Website Design

    Very useful post.  I am in the process of buidling out my content.  I like the idea of joining my local chamber.  I will also start utlizing the link directories. 

  • http://www.animaroo.com puppies for sale

    Excellent Guide. Another point to add is creating the right Social Bookmarking campaign in order to generate links back from others. As well, distributing articles and then submitting RSS feeds from those articles to the popular rss sites increases link pop to those articles, which in turn, translates to your website.

  • http://www.hemroidtreatmentnews.com/hemroid-treatment/hemorrhoids-treatment hemroids treatment

    Hi, great post! From my experience, internal links are quite useful. And posting to blogs ant writing articles makes the bzlk of my linking efforts…

  • http://www.hemroidshemorrhoids.com hemroids

    When trying to build your site, you should know that links can bring great opportunities like traffic and stuff!

  • http://www.cheesywine.com win facts

    This is some great information. thanks Debra

  • http://www.askahawkes.com stan

    I wish I could better understand link baiting.  You have laid out some great techniques.  I am building up a bunch of blogs and getting them loaded with PR then using those to leverage trades with people who own blogs to do the trades.  thx debra

  • http://www.dogform.com Dog Bows

    Great post.  If you have an existing site that has been up for years how can you take advantage of the press release aspect – and do commercial sites get their press releases accepts?

  • http://privateinvestmentblog.blogspot.com Private Investment Blog

    Podcasts are something I didn’t realize you could use to generate links – I thought they were only used to generate traffic.  I am going to create some podcasts and see how it goes – thanks!

  • http://www.faqsabout.org/ faqs about

    Thanks for the link building thoughts Debra

  • http://www.azproxies.com/ Proxy

    Thanks for the tips Debra…. the buying of a journalist list was something I had never thought or heard of before.

  • http://www.dennisbaker.net/blog/ new york theater

    Great information.  I been meaning to do videos and podcasting to take my website to the next level.  Video blogging is so can be so easy now with devices like the iphone and cameras that record video.

  • http://silverindustry.blogspot.com Silver Industry

    this seems to be all run of the mill white hat techniques – they work tho

  • http://goldindustry.blogspot.com gold news

    good list – i hadn’t thought about all of those…

  • http://cleocinblog.blogspot.com Cleocin

    this girl really knows what she is talking about!

  • http://rowanlandscaping.com/NC/ NC landscaping

    Great information. Links are still the primary source for showing relevancy and inportance

  • http://www.skintagsolution.com Skin Tag Removal

    Great guide, this will come in very handy.

    I am curious about where the threshold is in terms of content links versus nav / header links, and what your thoughts are in terms of non related links affecting rankings.

    My sense is that non relevant links are helping, and that often even though many people say not to buy links, those seem to help as well.

  • http://www.homeremedyhaven.com Home Remedies

    An important element to align with when you work with a high quality research-orientated website is to make sure to contact University sites – EDUs and ask them to link over to you, or compelling, unique research material.

  • http://www.answerblip.com/articles/cars/buying-a-car How to buy a car

    Great information and a great article with lots of facts about link building. Thanks for the help.

  • http://www.dogform.com Dog Bows

    I totally agree with you – very good post

  • http://familylawlawyersflorida.com/ Marc from Miami

    Between directories being devalued and the fact that Google stoped officially recognizing them a few weeks ago everyone is going to be scrambling for links.  And they are definitely going after do-follow blogs so the options are closing fast.  My take is that Google is throwing out the baby with the bath water. 

    The magic behind the web and linking is being tainted because can not figure out how to stop spammers, most of whom, work for Google via Adsense, lol

  • http://vb.maas1.com/t77253.html ??? ????

    Thanks for these great tips!

  • http://blog.igate.ro Daniel

    Thanks for these great tips!

  • http://www.nurseryfurnituresales.com John

    Thanks for the great advice. I thought i was doing a lot so far but it seems there is still so much to learn.

  • http://www.amoils.com/warts.html Wart Removal

    Nice summary for link building. Nowadays it really is all about building links in content, editorial votes as opposed to pagerank, which is simply one ranking metric.

    By far the best way to build great links is to first build great, compelling content, and then manually solicit links from authority websites.

  • http://www.m4s73r.com/ Internet Marketing Indonesia

    thanks for your article. Very help me. I will more like visit to webpronews site. :) Fantastic

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