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How to get more external links

Marketing guru Russ Ain of Overdrive details some link building strategies with this guest column.

This page is filed under keyword(s): seo.

External links are one of the most important factors when considering a site's rank within search engines, particularly with the major engines (Google and Yahoo!). A site with a large number of quality links makes a statement to the search engines that the site is an authoritative resource on its subject area and is usually rewarded with stronger rankings on its targeted keywords. Links from sites like CNN.com, NBC.com, AOL.com, or MSN would create this type of presence.

So, how do you get a link from the BBC? It would be nice if they just linked to anyone who asked, but it isn't that easy. You need to offer a product or say something newsworthy so that they have reason to write an article about you. Doing so, would almost certainly provide your site with hundreds of other links, since other blogs and smaller sites also link to what you're offering. But, getting the attention from a behemoth like the BBC is very difficult, so I recommend seeking out other opportunities to increase your link popularity:

  • Check out who's linking to your competitors – Usually you will find that sites who link to your competition also offer an opportunity for similar sites. Of the big engines, Yahoo! displays the largest list of external links as well as the opportunity to export them into a spreadsheet for further analysis. So, hit Yahoo! and type in link:http://ww2db.com. Click "Inlinks" for the full list. If you find any sites that appear to offer a strong linking opportunity (by either that site's link quantity or PageRank), feel free to contact them. Getting links from sites with a ".edu" or ".gov" extensions are almost always valuable links, so seek those first.
  • Create a blog – If you are having trouble creating unique and clever content – some products don't lend themselves that way – then consider a blog. Creating a separate domain that is cross-linked with your main site offers a great deal of SEO value, and a blog is an excellent platform for either commenting on present news or repurposing other content you find surfing around. A few places to look for the latter include article repository sites like EzineArticles.com and GoArticles.com. For an interface, my preference is Wordpress since it provides the most customization and offers the excellent All-In-One SEO Pack and aLinks plugins.
  • Look at online directories - There are a few directories which provide value for SEO. Those you should look at include the Yahoo! Directory ($299/year), DMOZ.org (free, but tough to get into), BOTW.org ($90/year), and Business.com ($299/year).
  • Buy links directly – Some of the very competitive online spaces take link acquisition a step further by purchasing links from blogs, newspaper sites, and other resources. There are services that act as a third party in these situations, such as TextLinkAds.com and TextLinkBrokers.com, but the search engines are aware of these services and can sometimes penalize sites that participate in link brokering schemes. My suggestion is to contact the top sites that rank for the terms that you want to, and see if they have a Links page where you can purchase a link. This indirect way of gaining links usually falls below Google and Yahoo!'s radar.

Attaining links is the key to the top of the SERPs (search engine result pages). Once you've got some solid content and the rest of your site set up, get going on getting them. It can be a daunting process, but the more sites you contact, the more links you'll end up with.

And speaking of which, I'd like to take this time and snag a freebie for my online games site.

This article was written by Russ Ain, Search Analyst for Overdrive. He’s an avid participant of email management and may consider his Boston PR agency as a write-in candidate for the next election.

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This page is filed under keyword(s): seo.
Author: Russ Ain
Last updated: 14 Aug 2008

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