May 17, 2017

Some of the best SEO link building is “do it yourself”

When it comes to getting better search engine ranking for your keywords, providing users with useful, informative, or entertaining content is your first priority. Second is good optimization of that content and how it is delivered – your site structure, meta tags, page titles, H1 headings, alt img tags and all that other behind the scenes stuff. Once you have that out of the way, achieving good search engine positions is all about trust, authority and reputation.
trust circleOf the hundreds of ways Google and other search engines try to determine just how trustworthy your website is, one of the most important is the number, quality and relevance of other websites that link to yours. As is often said in many aspects of business, “it’s all who you know” – or in this case, who knows you. You may have the best website ever, but until someone knows it – and links to it – the search engines and everyone else aren’t going to know about it.
So how do you get other sites to link to yours? You can hire an SEO consultant or link building company who knows the what where and how, but that is not always in the budget. And even if you do have a pro taking care of most of your search engine optimization and inbound link building, some of it is best handled by you, the website owner. Good SEOs and link builders will know how to acquire high quality, relevant links to your site, but nobody knows your business better than you do. There are places where you can get links that we search engine marketing weasels can not.

Here are some ways to get links to your site that are going to work better if you do it yourself. Many of these are also the type of links you should try to get, regardless of what they would mean to your SEO efforts. Good links build trust and reputation, not just PageRank. They are just “good business”. Remember, just because the web can be cold and impersonal doesn’t mean you, your business or your website has to be that way too.

Industry and Trade Publications and Organizations

Are you a member of your Local Area Widget Manufacturer’s Association? If so, see if they have a members list where you can get a link. Check with your vendors, too. If you get a lot of your supplies from one or two places, you may be able to get them to link to you as a happy customer. If they have a testimonials and reviews page, you might offer to write a review. Even if the site is low traffic or not highly ranked, you are still going to get good exposure within your industry and get your name out there.

User Groups and Forums

While discussion forums are often spammed with unrelated links and may not have a lot of value when it comes to SEO, there are some real secret treasures out there. If you use a certain software or service specific to your type of business and they have a support forum, join it. Or maybe you are selling a product that has a somewhat limited market, but the people who are into that type of thing all hang out at one website or another. Join them. Somewhere in your user settings you will probably find a place to put a link to your site in your profile and maybe even a place to set up a “signature”. Use that little space wisely and get your link in there. Then when you ask or answer questions, you get a link. Don’t be pushy, and do NOT drop a link every time you login. Moderators will give you the boot and they should.  If someone has a question and you can answer it, share your knowledge without turning it into a sales pitch. People will see through that and hate you for it.  Also, it helps to connect your personality to your business so use a name not a keyword as your profile handle. People like to deal with other people more than they do anonymous websites. That is part of the attraction of social media, too.

Speaking of Social Media…

Yes, it is time consuming and can even be a little too frivolous at times. But at least a minimal presence on Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, YouTube or other social networks is essential to your success online. Even if the links from many of the social websites are “nofollow” and don’t always directly help your search engine rank, you are still putting yourself out there and getting exposure. It is best to be active on at least one or two social networks – wherever your potential audience may spend their time. Be accessible, be friendly and show your expertise. Give people the opportunity to see what you have to offer.  While a good social media manager can be your social media spokesperson, nobody can be you better than you can.

Charities and Fundraisers

Many non profit organizations and charities maintain a list of donors or contributors. This is another opportunity to not only get a link, but also the chance to show a very good side of you and your business. The important thing to remember here, as with most link opportunities, is to make sure you really mean it. Don’t just make a donation in exchange for a link. Even if you don’t get a link, you will still look pretty cool. And you can indeed get links by being cool.

Do you see the common idea between these link opportunities? They are not just about improving your PageRank or keyword position in the SERPs. They are also “good PR” – a chance to show your knowledge, authority on a subject, your personality, good citizenship, trustworthiness and help others get to know you and your business. And believe it or not, those are all things that Google and the other search engines are trying to factor into their calculations by counting the number and kind of links, where they are from, how trustworthy they all are, as well as the various social signals like the number of real followers, Likes, +1s and Tweets… it is all about trust, reputation and how connected you are. Trust is also behind Google’s push toward “personalizing” the web with things like the Google+ social network and ways to indicate authorship of a web page – that’s also why you’ll see my cheesy mug shot beside my articles in search results.
Work on getting links that help establish your trustability rather than just aiming for high numbers of links or only from sites with the highest PageRank. Use your imagination. The links are out there – and you won’t find them in some “10,000 PR4 backlinks” spam package.

Need help with link building or other inbound marketing?
Contact Ker Communications

  • Sangie

    I just got into SEO and I need to know the basics of linking, can anyone point me the right way?

  • I can tell you it isn’t by posting spam comments.

  • Tom Buckland

    Hi Nick, I see charity donations as getting links is a good method and you mentioned it here, and its good for SEO and the feel good side of it too. But the only ones I find are the 2 extremes of the scale and neither of which help by getting a backlink.

    For example – Me sponsoring my friend to run a half marathon. I did this because she was doing it anyway but also to test the link out and although I did get a link, it was on their sponsor page so PR0 useless link.

    The other side – Me sponsoring a bigger charity and asking if they could put a link their homepage to my site. They said they had some policy and only donations over £250 would get a “testimonial” link. As the site was PR5 it was not worth that amount of money.

    So where do you get these charity PR4/5 links from donating $5-10?


    • I am not sure why you are concerned with the PR numbers of a page or site. PR has little to do with the value of a link, and is also rarely updated. If that is how you are measuring the value of a link from a charity, you are probably missing the whole point on both the “feel good” side, and the SEO side. It is about trust.
      Just from an SEO perspective, charity sites tend to be trustworthy and therefore a link from such a site is usually going to be good for your link profile, even if the toolbar pagerank is low.
      As far as putting a monetary value on such links, smart charities will limit the links and mentions to those who really care about the charity. If you really care about a cause, you will donate without being compensated with a link. Otherwise, a charity site that hands out links to anyone who gives an insignificant donation will quickly become a magnet for people who are just trying to buy links. Think about it: would you risk your credibility (with people as well as Google) by endorsing someone you don’t really know who has done nothing for you except give you $5? Personally, I might drop their name in a “Thanks for supporting” list, but certainly wouldn’t automatically endorse their website with a link.

  • Gregory Smith

    A great read. Was then and still is today!

  • Simon Granner

    1000% agree