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How do I get people to link to my site?

Several of the questions we've been recently asked have revolved around link building. What is link building? Is it a good way to promote my website? How does Google feel about link building? How do I build links? In this blog post, I'll try to answer some of those questions by sharing some of the research we've done. If you have questions that aren't answered in this post, please feel free to call us any time at 250-514-2208.

What is link building?

Links that point to your website are one of the best ways search engines are able to rank the relevance and popularity of your site and its content.

Link building is the process of establishing relevant inbound links to your website. Link building can drive targeted traffic to your website and can help to raise your ranking with the major search engines.

Is link building legal?

Link building – in and of itself – is not illegal. But like everything in this world, there are good ways and bad ways to do it. Poor link building practices can have very detrimental effects on your business; you don't want to be penalized by search engines, so please be careful! Check out Andrew's blog post and learn from his mistakes.

Having said that....

Link Building Is Not All Bad

Just remember – good content comes first. Links come later. Don’t try to get someone to link to your site before you give them something that's worth linking to.

So how do I get people to link to my site?

Matt Cuts, head of the Webspam team at Google, is a great source of information when it comes to all things SEO related. When one of our clients recently asked how he could get more people linking to his site, I headed straight to the Google Webmasters channel to look for some inspiration.

There are many, many ways that you can entice others to link to your website. You'll have to put in some effort, and you may need to get creative, but bloggers and tweeters are always looking for sites to link to. You simply have to give them a reason to choose your site over another. I know; easier said than done, but here are 10 ideas that Matt has talked about:

1. Build great content so people will want to link to your site.

Content – content – content! I know I've said it before, but it's worth repeating. When it comes time to think about SEO and links, offering great content is the single most important thing you can do with your website. You have the power and the ability to deliver useful, relevant content to your site visitors. You don't have to write a lot, and you don't have to write often, but if you can share information that others will find useful, they'll have a reason to revisit your site and to share your links with others.

2. Write a blog.

A blog is a great way to build an online profile. You can use it to project the person you want to be online.

Establish yourself as an authority. If you know something that others would find useful, blog about it. You don't have to be the best writer in the world, and you only have to update it semi-regularly to keep your site content dynamic and fresh.

If you're a subject matter expert in some field, chances are good that someone has recently asked you a question they felt only you could answer. If they happen to have asked via email, your written reply is a blog post in the making. Share those tidbits online, and maybe, just maybe, someone will want to share your knowledge by way of a link.

3. Email a newsletter.

if you are already seeing a fair bit of traffic to your blog, make it easier to invite visitors back. Send out a newsletter with links to any article you've written.

4. Bring something original to the table.

If you've done some research in your area of expertise, share it! If you've done the ground work and can save someone else the effort, they're more likely to link to your site directly. People are more likely to tweet about your or blog about your findings if you're saying something they haven't heard before. Original content tends to stick with people.

5. Participate in the online community.

You know where your expertise lies, so look for online forums, show up and answer questions. If you have something important to say and are able to add value to a discussion, someone will appreciate that. Appreciative people are more likely to check out your website, and when they check it out, they might link to it if they see you have a lot of good information to share.

People spend a large amount of time each day perusing Facebook, LinkedIn, Tumblr. Pinterest, etc. If that's where they are, that's where you should be too – sharing knowledge and building towards a stronger online persona.

6. Look for public speaking opportunities.

Get involved in a conference, attend a trade show, or conduct a seminar. If you have something of value to say, someone may blog or tweet about it, and if you have a website, chances are they'll link to it.

7. Use humour or controversy.

People tend to gravitate towards humour and controversy. Facebook walls are littered with Somee cards and the latest from George Takei. And the next time someone unleashes an online rant, check out the comments and rebuttals. You probably don't want to become associated with online controversy, but if you're looking for links, the occasional rant is likely to attract some attention.

8. Give something away for free.

People like free stuff – whether it's an app, a download, or free advice. If you can give something away on your website, others will have something of value they can link to.

9. Make sure your site is well built.

Can Google get to all the pages on your site? How easily can your site be crawled? Is it easy for other people to link to the pages or blog posts on your site? If you make it easy for someone to link to your page or blog posts, they are more likely to do it.

10. Make a video!

It's easier to watch a subject matter expert explain something than it is to read about it. If you have something of value to say, have someone record your message. Viewers can get something of value, and if they like what they see, they're likely to share it.

Case in point...check out this video - What are some effective techniques for building links? - from Google's Matt Cutts:

And don't necessarily need a lot of links to your website; you just need good, high quality links. As long as you post great content – something that's relevant, interesting and that nobody else has shared – any links to that content will continue to be valid well into the future.