One of the truths about SEO is that inbound links are absolutely critical to increase your search ranking.
When I explain how Google sees inbound links as votes of confidence, I always see folks nod their head. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Then I ask them how they think we should go about link-building.
I thought I’d try to help the folks out there who need some help. Here’s a list of 25 ways to get inbound links to your website:
1. Ask for a Link Trade
I hesitate to include this one, but the truth is that it still works. Sending an email to a blogger asking to exchange links is very, very possible. It’s just cheap and fake and fluff. As a rule, Shout Out Studio tries really hard to avoid this type of marketing.
But if I’m trying to help someone, I’ve got to share. Now let’s move on.
2. Create Foundational Content
Create content that contains foundational information and vocabulary for the industry your blog is trying to target. This post is an example: we wanted to create a list of all the ways we recommend a business to link-build. This will be foundational content that will engage for a wide audience. Content like this is both relevant and worth sharing.
Another example of similar foundational content would be “Link-Building 101” or “The Definition of Link-Building.”
3. Run A Contest Centered on Content Creation
Executing a digital contest might not sound like a ton of fun, but it can absolutely transform online business if done right. If your contest involves a big payoff for participants and asks them to create content across the web (on their blog, social networks or on your site) then you’re going to end up with an increase in inbound links.
4. White-Hat Link Building
There are several firms out there who specialize in building massive amounts of links for their clients. Most of these folks are submitting links to Squidoo lens and other sites they keep up. Beware of anyone who does this for far too little money. Manually building these links takes time and if you’re paying $5, then your probably getting a bad product.
5. Directory Submissions
There is a load of directories across the web. Use these as places to list your website and give a business description. DMoz.org is the step one here as several sites use the Dmoz directory to populate their own directories.
Directory submissions can cost money and it can be VERY VERY worth it. I’ve worked with several businesses who both hesitated to pay to be included in a directory and it was – in fact – links from those paid directories that drove new business to their site.
6. Ego Bait – Create a List of Industry Experts
“Ego Bait” is a phrase used to describe the method of enticing engagement with rewards that play to the target’s ego. For example, create a list of the top 20 bloggers within your industry. Create a page on your website with a list and description of the blogs. Be sure to include links to their site.
Create a sidebar badge that those bloggers can place within their sidebar. Contact each blog alerting them to their inclusion on the list and share the badge with them. Most bloggers love showing these on their sidebar or “about” page.
7. Think Like a Publicist
Getting yourself some larger press coverage can produce a load of potential inbound links. Getting yourself mentioned on an industry website or even within the newspaper can produce links back to your site from those media outlets.
8. Guest Post on Another Site
Many bloggers love to have others help them create content. Find relevant blogs and see if they’ll allow you to guest post. Have 2 or 3 articles ready to go when you approach the blog. Ensure that your proposed content fits will be relevant to their audience. Almost 100% of guest blog posts include links pointed to the author’s website.
9. Syndicate Articles
There are many places for you to syndicate your blog content across other channels. Folks in the SEO community often disagree on the effectiveness of syndicating articles. Google penalizes for duplicate content across the web but rewards inbound links. Shout Out Studio doesn’t recommend this method to our clients, but I know folks that have used it very successfully.
If you’re looking for places to syndicate your RSS feed, the Social Media Today Community is a great place to start.
10. Publish Press Releases
Releasing online Press Releases using services such as PRWeb, PRlog, PitchEngine or Marketwire can put information about your business in the hands of journalists who can distribute the content all over the web. These articles can include links back to your site so you could earn thousands of inbound links if these online press releases get distributed well.
11. Submit an Article to an Industry News Site
Similar to the guest posting above, but reaching out to some of the top industry blogs and submitting an interesting/timely article will enable you to receive an inbound link. Links that get in front of your targeted audience are great for search, but the referral traffic is even better.
12. Think Like a Local Business
Grab links from your local chamber of commerce, the better business bureau, and a local library. These sites are trusted within your local community and your site can benefit from exposure there.
13. Use Your Partners
Develop business relationships with non-competing businesses in the same field. You can use these relationships online and off: share links and distribute each other’s business cards.
Manufacturers, vendors or retailers associated with your business may be willing to link to you from their website, especially if you write a review or interview with them.
14. Answer Questions
Sites like Yahoo! Answers, Quora & Google Groups allow you to answer questions. This gives you an opportunity to provide relevant links back to your site within your answer. Answering questions effectively will give you credibility in front of a potential audience. Also, you’ll gain inspiration for future blog posts by
15. Use the Pro Link-Builder’s Secret Weapon: Squidoo
Link building firms often simply add links to your website from pages they curate on Squidoo. It only takes 15 minutes to set up a topical Squidoo page. Be sure to include expert information and popular useful tools for your field and also link back to your website.
16. Make Sure You Have a High Quality, Frequently Updated Blog
Don’t blog just for the sake of blogging, but create high-quality content that is relevant to your audience. This will help you become a trusted source of information in the eyes of your target audience and also provide a wealth of types of content that other sites can link to.
17. Become a Sponsor
Most charities and volunteer organization list their partners on their site (which is GREAT for exposure) but they often provide a link to the sponsor’s website.
18. Build a Collection of Tools
Folks are often searching for useful online tools. Whether it’s SEO tools, mortgage calculators or Body Fat calculators; these are incredibly useful to your audience and they often love to share with their audience. This can earn you some really powerful inbound links and provide incredible value to your audience.
19. Review products, apps, and services.
Write a thorough review of an iPhone app, relevant service or product. Those companies are always looking for case studies and testimonials. After writing your review on your site, be sure to contact the provider to let them know about the review and give them permission to share in whatever way will help them.
20. Give Away Free Samples
I’ve worked with several companies that have created thousands of links to their site by giving away free samples. These companies had their giveaways picked-up on “freebie” and “couponing” websites. For hundreds of dollars, these sites received thousands of dollars worth of inbound links.
21. Perform Interviews
Engaging interviews are fantastic ways to get your content shared across the internet. The interviewees often share the link and folks who are relevant to your industry are more likely to share interviews with quality content.
22. Win Some Awards
Submit your company for awards. I know it feels like you’re an insecure teenager, but winning an award (or even being a finalist) usually nets you a link or two from the contest’s website (let alone the positive exposure you’re able to receive).
23. Make Sure You’ve Got Those Social Profiles Filled Out.
Search engines are relying heavily on social networks to verify and give authority to their rankings. By having profiles filled out on relevant websites, you’re alerting search engines that you’re legitimate. Also, most profiles allow for a link back to your website.
24. Let Others Use Your Location
Host a networking event, charity fundraiser or happy hour at your location. Heck, even let others host events there. Not only will this give your business new offline exposure, but most of those events will be posted online with links to the location.
25. Let People Share Your Content
Creating great content is critical. Making sure it’s share-worthy should be at the forefront of your mind when scheming new ideas for images, blog posts & videos. The next thing you should do is communicate clearly that you’re OK with folks sharing/using your content & images as long as they attribute with a link back. If you’re using original content, this will help spread your content as well as increasing inbound links to your site. (Thanks to InboundMarketingAgents.com for this idea!)
If you start with this list and work through even a few of these steps I’m sure you’ll be amazed at the difference in referral traffic and search engine traffic you start receiving.
If there are any other methods you think we forgot to include here, hop into the comments section below and let us know.
Photo credit: Barbara Willi
In use under Creative Commons 2.0