Even though the yardstick for web site popularity undergoes constant metamorphosis, your site still needs links – both inbound and outbound.
I have always recommended to my clients that they provide outbound links. It is a way of giving your visitors added value for visiting your site.
You also want to have other quality sites linking to yours. Despite social media and personalized search, inbound links still count for a lot with the search engines.
So how do you go about linking up and forming a good “community” of links for your site?
First of all, YOU need to have a way to link out to other sites. It can be a separate page (a Links or Resources page – name it what you will) or you can use text-based links placed directly in your site’s copy in appropriate places. These outbound links need to be easy to find – not a hidden or buried page.
How do you find quality sites?
No question this is going to take some time, but there are some tools available to help shorten the process.
1. Start with your customers, business associates, or sites that you have found valuable!
2. Know who is already linking to you. You can usually discover who is already linking to you by investigating your site statistics provided for free by virtually all site hosting companies these days. Check out their sites, and if you think they would be helpful to your site visitors, then by all means link back to them.
3. Find out who is linking to your competitors. If a site links to your competitor, they might also be willing to link to you. Discovering this is tougher. You will probably need some software help. I use WebCEO for many purposes, and discovering links to competitors is one of the available tools. But it’s professional, expensive software. If you’re a sole operator in charge of your site, there are a couple of other options:
www.LinkDiagnosis.comis a free tool you can use. It derives its information from the Yahoo database. It also works better with FireFox and they provide a FireFox Plugin for getting the most out of their tools.
www.Link-Assistant.com : Not free (as of this writing, $147 but that’s very reasonable in this biz.) Their software bundles a lot of great tools for tracking links all over the place, as well as some very useful tools for weeding out the clunkers and determining if a prospective site is using naughty SEO tactics. I have not purchased and tried this software yet, but it’s on my list! This program was recommended to me by Ty, my good buddy and Internet Marketing Pro par excellence over at www.redvwbus.com .
4. This is the most time consuming method but tried and true. Follow the breadcrumb trails manually. If you discover a good site that links to you, check out all their other links. Then keep following. It sounds simple – and it is. And it works. It just takes time.
5. You can do a search on any search engine using terms directly related to your business, see what results come up, and check out the sites. This is a bit more hit-and-miss, but one thing it is good for is locating large directory or specialty sites where you can get free or reasonably-priced listings and links.
6. Don’t neglect to get your business listed in Google Local, Yahoo Local, and any authoritative, well-established local websites for your area. For example, www.Asheville.com is a case in point (by no means the only one) for my own local area.
7. Participate online! Use user groups and social media (such as Twitter, LinkedIn, StumbleUpon, Facebook, just a few examples) to communicate with other people in your business or related businesses. You can find some great sites to link to – and find folks who will happily link to you – with social media/networking. The key word here is participate. Don’t go for hard sell, it won’t work. Be a helpful, contributing community member and the links will follow.