This article does not talk about old techniques of getting links, such as reciprocal link exchange, social bookmarking, article submission, submitting links to directories, 3-way link exchange, forum posting and blog commenting. Rather, we’ll examine webmaster habits, and how these habits can be used to get quality free links to your site. Some of this are not SEO techniques at all, but important habits that a webmaster must have to earn quality links for his/her website. The habits are not listed in order of importance.
Habit #1: Networking with other webmasters in the same niche
Some webmasters have a habit of networking with other webmasters. They do that for both personal and business reasons. During this process, links can be earned in a variety of ways. Other webmasters visit your website and may find an interesting topic to link to, for instance. While networking, you may discuss some of the articles on your website with a fellow webmaster; if this sparks some interest, the other webmaster will link to it and share it with his/her friends.
Further, if you’ve been doing this for a while and are considered an authority in your niche, you can get a lot of followers from other, fellow webmasters. In this case, you can get a lot of links because they will list your website in their blogroll or cite it in their articles.
So how are you going to acquire this helpful habit?
First, you need to socialize and be eager to meet new people. Do not do it for the sake of links; do it because you need someone that has the same interest as you, which both of you can discuss and perhaps even collaborate on articles or other projects.
You will learn a lot from these relationships. They also expose your level of skill and expertise.
You can socialize online by participating on certain kinds of websites. These include:
- Forums about your niche. For example, if you have an SEO-related website, or if you’re interested in learning SEO, you can join and contribute to forums.seochat.com.
- Website communities about bloggers. A good example is blogcatalog.com, where you can submit your blog, meet some new contacts, and discuss areas of interest.
- Popular social networking websites like Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. These sites offer a lot of opportunities to meet new contacts and discuss similar interests.
Currently, you can earn backlinks in Facebook and Google Profiles by putting your website in one of those fields in your profile. These links are crawlable and indexable.
Of course, it would be advisable to put a strong effort into making your website as good as possible, so that visitors coming from that link become interested in your expertise and will most likely network with you.
- Networking websites such as Linkedin (http://www.linkedin.com/), where you can participate in related discussion groups.
In summary, this habit can get you free backlinks because your contacts will link to you for editorial reasons. These are also quality links, because they are both coming from related websites and editorially given. Keep developing and nurturing your website contacts. One good way is to maintain a contact list in a spreadsheet with their URLs, so that you will remember their website, subscribe to their feeds and interact with their content. You can also share what news you have in your website.
Habit #2: Answering commenter questions seriously
This habit is rare. If you read popular blogs, you’ll notice that there are only a few of them that answer the commenters’ questions seriously and in detail. This is particularly important if the person commenting on your article/post is asking some technical questions that need technical details.
Here are some good tips on how to transform this opportunity into a good link bait strategy:
- Moderate comments on your blog.
- Look for the commenters that are asking detailed/specific questions about your post and have received no replies. The answer to this question is either not found in your article or not clearly elaborated.
- Write a very detailed answer to his/her question by publishing it in a separate article. You can write a reply around 500 words or more, depending on the complexity of the topic.
- Let the asker know you have answered the question either by replying to his/her comment or sending an email.
- In most cases, the asker will be glad of your help and will either link to it, bookmark it or even share it with other friends.
Most likely, if the asker is also a webmaster with related websites or another blogger, you will be surprised to find that you can earn a link by featuring your detailed answer in one of his/her blog posts or resource page.
Not only you can earn a link from this technique, but you can also help your website to grow by adding more quality and useful content.
Habit #3: Joining professional organizations
In case, you were not aware, the professional organizations and associations in your niche are “authority websites” that will have a strong effect your website’s trust level if you earn a link from them.
Yet it’s not that hard to join professional organizations to find new contacts and contribute. You can simply search in Google to find out which are the professional organizations within your niche. For example, suppose you are a search engine marketing professional with a website. If you search in Google for the term “search engine marketing professional organization,” one of the top results is http://www.sempo.org/.
Of course, you should not join just for a link. Instead, examine what other benefits your business and career can earn by joining these organizations. You can read their guidelines, member tips and other resources. It is also recommended that you do some cost and benefit analysis, because joining these organizations can sometimes cost you, as many charge annual membership fees.
If you are convinced, you can join them and put your website’s URL in your profile. If the link is not rel=nofollow, you can earn search engine ranking benefits from it. Do not forget to build relationships, contribute and participate actively within your organization’s activities, because this where you can even find more opportunities to get a link (read habit #1).
Habit #4: Writing detailed and useful articles consistently
This is one of the most important habits that every webmaster should have. By writing detailed and useful articles, you are constantly helping your readers to increase their knowledge and solve their own problems.
The reward is great, because these satisfied readers might cite you on their website as a quality source of information. There is a simple test to make you realize the importance of consistent writing in your website and blogs. First, if you have a new website, follow the tips here to get started: http://www.seochat.com/c/a/Search-Engine-Optimization-Help/SEO-Success-Story-Do-it-Yourself-Strategies-to-Increase-Web-Traffic/
Next, continue writing detailed and useful articles on your website. After one to two years, log in to your Google Webmaster Tools, expand “Your site on the website” and then click “Links to your site.” You will notice that most of these links are “editorially” given from related websites reading your content. It may not be too many, but they are indeed very helpful to your website’s rankings, because these are classified as quality links.
Habit #5: Having a strong “marketing” outlook for your website
It is not enough to just start a website, do some initial marketing and then write a lot of quality content. To earn backlinks, one of the important habits you need to develop is a strong marketing outlook for the website. That is, you need to think in terms of marketing your site to your users — not advertising to them or constantly talking about how good it is, but making it easy for them to use and remember.
For example, you should examine certain factors that can affect how your website is being linked to from the outside. Ask yourself the following questions:
Am I providing an easy way for my visitors to link to my website? If not, you should consider putting information on your site that explains how they should link to you. You may have noticed that some websites have a section called “Link to Us,” where any interested readers can go to check for linking information and details. One of the easy and effective ways to get users to link to you is by providing them a ready HTML code that they can grab and paste on their own website.
Am I providing an easy-to-remember URL? If not, consider using a shorter and SEO-friendly URL. This does not mean you should immediately rewrite all of your website’s URLs, especially if you already have an old and established website.
The key is “consistency” in the case of dynamic parameters in your URL (id, etc). For example, if you have a dynamic URL with session ID and other parameters, you might provide users with a shorter URL without session ID, and give them an HTML code that they can paste onto their website. Make sure also that the URL you provide is your canonical URL, and is the one indexed by Google.
Am I continually improving my website’s services? Most webmasters are so focused on SEO that they forget one of the essential elements for long term success — “continuous improvement.” For example, say you are a PHP developer with sets of tools in your website. You should spend some time improving the tools themselves continually. The result is that your tools become more efficient and convenient to use. This contribution to a better user experience can translate to editorially given backlinks by your happy users.