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Building links to boost your website ranking

Coloured paper clipsBuilding links between your website and other relevant websites can drive more traffic to your site and may help improve your ranking. This in turn helps with search engine visibility. It is an important aspect of search engine optimisation. James Gurd explains how to build relevent links

Link building is not rocket science but the process can seem daunting. It will not happen overnight, so it is likely to require some persistence. Get it right, though, and you could put yourself in front of a much wider base of potential customers.

How to start link-building

  1. Get access to Google webmaster tools - This will provide detailed reports about your pages’ visibility on Google and includes a list of external links (other sites linking to you) and your internal links. This tool is vital in finding out exactly who is linking your site, to which page and with what anchor text.
  2. Create good content - Quality content is a vital ingredient for any site — content that revolves around your products and relates to your customers. Other sites link to good articles and relevant content, so it becomes very important.

    Let your website have a personality: all small businesses are very passionate about their online offerings but often it is not reflected in the website copy. Defining a “personality” lets you convey your passion for your business and it makes it easier to engage and interact with customers. A blog (see 8) is a key way to portray your business, its people and what you represent.

    Cover all bases: Start with covering all information about your brand, outline the history of the product, give detailed update on features and flag up forthcoming releases. Make it interesting, authoritative and something worth coming back for.

    Content does not only have to be all one type; get creative, hold competitions and surveys, ask your customers to get involved and send their feedback — you can have fun with this.

  3. Do competitor analysis - Look over your shoulder and take a look at what others are doing. Using tools or software such as Bing Webmaster Tools or  Advanced Link Manager will give you a useful insight into who is linking to you or your competitor’s site. Go through the links to identify directories and sites that link to your competitors. Contact them yourself to add your site to the directory, and so on.
  4. Shout about it from the rooftops - Well, the social media rooftops anyway! This is about getting increased traffic to the website to read your content and engage with your brand. Use tools like Twitter and Facebook to interact with your customers directly and be a part of their conversation.
  5. Optimise existing links - Through Google webmaster tools you can identify the existing links coming to your site. Look for any potential issues such as the links going to the wrong page, or with the wrong anchor text. Contacting the external sites with updates (updated page URL, updated anchor text) is a quick way of optimising links, as they already link to you. Don’t hesitate to ask for an additional link, for example to a new category or article you might have updated, if you think it is justified.
  6. Speak to people - Think of link development as an extension of your networking activities. If you are involved in any industry organisations/associations, talk to the people involved and discuss opportunities — not just to get links, but also to build a long term partnership.
  7. Get into directories - The extent to which directories send traffic and links to your site varies. However, it is still an important part of link development. The top directories are Yahoo Directory, BOTW.org and DMOZ.org. There will also be directories in your niche sector or location that you should be in.
  8. Start a blog - Blogging has now become an important tool in getting additional links. Many people are daunted about writing a blog. A good blog should be written in your natural style and should relate to your products and industry. Once you start you will realise that it is very similar to discussing things over the phone or down the pub, only there is no one to contradict you — until the comments come in, that is!

Marketing Donut has further resources on link building and website ranking: