One of the most important factors search engines use to rank your website for keyword phrases is analyzing the number of websites link to you and how popular (or important) those websites are. (Note: I’ll refer to these type of links as “backward links”, although other SEO professionals might call them inward links, insite links, etc). Google even patented a link analysis algorithm called Page Rank which helps Google determine the ranking of your website on keyword phrases.
Hence, link building should be an integral (and ongoing effort) in any search engine optimization (SEO) program. Where should you look to increase the number and quality of backward links to your website?
- Find industry related blogs; and blog!
- Find and participate in industry related websites and forums.
- Submit your website to free search engine directories like DMOZ.org.
- Build relationships with similar website owners and prove value in having them add a link to your website.
To elaborate on the last point a little more; in Google’s search engine find related websites by using the following search syntax “related:www.yourwebsitehere.com” and identify any websites that might benefit from adding a link to your website. Don’t email or call the website owner blindly. You will need to build a relationship and prove value to the other website owner that creating a link to your website is in their best interests.
Show value! For example, if your websites focuses on listing all the Happy Hour events in the city of San Francisco consider contacting websites like MustSeeSanFranisco.com or SFTravel.com. Who on vacation in San Francisco doesn’t want to have a drink at a local Happy Hour event?
Lastly, don’t forget to “optimize” the hyperlink by including the primary keyword phrase in the actual link. Example: Instead of adding the following text to another website you are getting a link from, “Visit http://www.yourwebsitehere.com/ to see some social events including happy hours in the city” write “Visit our partner to find great happy hours events in San Francisco”
The direct benefits of getting backward links is A) your website will receive more site traffic from visitors clicking through on that backward link and B) search engines will give your website more “weight” when determining where your website should appear on related keyword searches.