One of the best ways to ensure your Web site ranks well for your most important keywords in natural search results is through in-bound links to your site.
But how do you attract them (short of begging other website owners to link to you)? We’ve got some tips and tricks below that will help you build links to your website.
Before we get started, though, just a quick reminder about links, link juice and the social etiquette of linking:
First, not all links are created equal.
Google, Yahoo and Bing all evaluate links to your Web site relative to the quality of the source of the link. So, for instance, if you get a link from The New York Times it’s vastly more important to the search engines than if Yield Software links to you (we hope one day soon we’ll be in the same league!) In practical terms, what this means is that the NYT link has more juice than the Yield link, and when the algorithm is determining what your page rank should be, it’s weighing the link juice of each individual link. Other types of sites that provide powerful link juice are links from .gov sites and links from .edu sites, in addition to links from mainstream media source sites or very popular blogs such as BoingBoing or ReadWriteWeb.
Second, link unto others as you would have the link to you. If you hope to generate lots of great links to your site, you must also be someone who sensibly links regularly. The social etiquette of the Web dictates that Web site and blog owners conscientiously link to the sources of news, information, reference material or other sources of content; this, in turn, will inspire Web publishers to link to you. By declaring you’re a good netizen, people will want to engage you more.
Now, on to those recommendations!
One of the all-time best ways to get people to link to your content is through lists. For instance, the top 10 best ways to evaluate a purchase. Or three things to consider when making a purchasing. Remember that your “Top” lists should have some relevance to what your site is all about, but SHOULD NOT be an overt promotion of or commercial about your products and services. These should be objectively helpful lists that people would intuitive want to share with friends or colleagues or family members (for instance, in their own blogs or via a tweet on Twitter or in a post on Facebook.)
After social networks, like Facebook, video is the hottest segment of the Web. People can’t get enough of video! So a good way to get people to link to your site or your blog is use video. It’s super easy to embed a video in your site (especially if you’re publishing your website or blog on a content management system like WordPress). As with “Top” lists, be sure to choose videos that relevant to what you do, sell or serve. If you produce and publish your own videos (which you should!), again, make sure you’re doing something that is going to be useful to people. How-to videos are hugely popular on the Web, particularly if it’s about something emerging that people want to do but don’t yet understand.
Believe it or not, photos are still very popular and capture people’s eye. Photos that capture an amazing moment, or are somehow instructional in nature can always drive interest, links and traffic to your site.
Publish content on your site that is new, unique or unlike something folks can get elsewhere. Perhaps it’s a how-to guide relating to your industry or the services you provide. If you have the budget, commission a white paper or a study on some important aspect of the work you do. Or maybe you’ve been doing a great job with your blog over the last few years and have a collection of blog posts that, when taken together, make a terrific e-book on a subject relating to your business or work. There are a whole number of online e-book publishing sites that enable fast and easy production, and which you can then offer for free download on your site. It’s easy to say, “oh, no one cares as much as I do about the thing I do” — but guess what: you’re NOT that unique! If you love what you do, chances are there are a whole bunch of people (potentially tens of thousands, even) who share your interests and passion.
Graphs and Graphics
Another great, link-worthy strategy for your website and blog is the use of graphs and graphics. From simple charts and graphs created by Excel to timeline graphics, tag cloud graphics and workflow illustrations, folks love great visuals that bring into specific relief that which may be difficult to imagine. There are many free or low-cost graphic creation tools across the Web (do a search!) that enable you to simply plug in a number of data points and return a beautiful illustration that you can copy and publish. If you have a little budget, you can also always hire graphic artists to create stunning visualizations of either data or workflow or technology stacks (among many other options.)
At the end of the day, content, even in the 21st century, is still king. If you consistently publish good stuff on your website and blog, it will be link-worthy. And when you do publish, don’t be shy about publicizing that fact. You should copy the URL of your new content and paste it into tweets on Twitter, your Facebook updates, your LinkedIn updates, Vator.TV updates (which lets you simultaneously post to Twitter and Facebook, saving you a little time!) and any other sites where you can provide updates of what you’re working on.