Winning Links for New Websites

An established website with regular visitors and a blog with a following face fewer difficulties building links than a brand-new site that no one knows exists. If you own a new site, chances are you need to build links. So how do you get started? Keep reading.

Erin Everhart covered this topic for Search Engine Land. For a number of the tips she gave, it seemed like she was reminding her readers not to overlook the obvious. I don’t mean that in a bad way; given half a chance, many of us will focus so closely on our own little online world that we fail to see the other worlds we inhabit. We may even blow it big time when it comes to spotting points of overlap from which we can benefit.

Take Everhart’s first tip: guest blogging for links. If you own a business-focused website, you’re probably an expert at something. That means other people will be interested in what you have to say; you just need to find your audience. Writing a guest post on a blog with the right audience can jump start your efforts to find a following. “You get the link juice, sure, but you also get traffic, brand awareness, and potentially even conversions.”

Not convinced? Everhart linked to an example in which she wrote a post for Mashable on the six best practices for modern SEO. From a post that took her less than an hour to write, she gained more than 200 followers on Twitter (an increase of more than 20 percent). The article earned 7,500 shares or the equivalent across various social media in the first two days after she posted it.

But did this translate to website traffic and conversions? Her company’s website saw a flood of visitors after the article appeared on Mashable – a 72 percent increase over what they received the month before it appeared. And at least one of those new visitors filled out a consultation request form, which is another step toward conversion. Nor was this the only potential conversion; Everhart notes that as a result of the article, “I’ve also had a handful of people contact me directly on Twitter, LinkedIn or via email to ask about our SEO services.”

So how can you get in on this action? Check out guest blogging communities. These are sites that help bloggers looking for guest posts get in touch with those who want to write guest posts, and vice versa. Everhart recommends Blogger LinkUp and My Blog Guest. She notes that you will need to check the quality of a blog before you write for it. You wouldn’t want your work, name, and reputation to be associated with a low-quality blog, even if you’re just writing as a guest.

Your site may not have a strong presence online just yet, but if you’ve been in  your field for a while, you probably know plenty of people offline. Guess what? These people may have a presence online as well, and if you have something in common, they might have a good reason to link to you. All they need is a little gentle encouragement.

You do need to keep this professional. Look over your lists of contacts, and look for those you’ve worked with before. Did you partner with someone on a project? Do you supply a business with goods and/or services? How about your friends – have you worked with them on anything online or off? As Everhart notes, “People are much more likely to link to you when they already know who you are and can vouch for the work you do.” An entire online social network for professionals – LinkedIn – was built on this premise. You should certainly be able to garner a few links for your new website this way!

Speaking of online social networks, I’m sure you already hang out on a few. Is your target audience there? If so, you need to connect with them and let them know who you are. If you’re not where your target audience is, you need to find out where they are and go there.

It may not be Facebook or Twitter. For example, if you cater to knitters and crocheters, you need to be on Ravelry. If you target the artistically-inclined, check out Pinterest. If you’re looking for those who travel frequently by air, you need to be on FlyerTalk.

You can use search engines to find your target audience. Make sure you’ve done your keyword research, and then simply search for your keyword plus the word  “forums,” “discussions,” or “groups” (without quotes). Once you do find one of these forums, spend some time getting to know the lay of the land before posting. And once you do, go in with the idea of building relationships over time. Everhart recommends that you “ask questions, answer questions, tell your story, whatever…And when you do post a link, don’t let that be your last post.” The point is to establish your credibility!

So I talked earlier about the overlap with your online and offline life. Let’s go back to that for a second. You live somewhere in the real world. In that town, there is probably a chamber of commerce. You run a business; you should join it. It will get you a great link to your website, and give you some excellent opportunities to network.

Going local can also help you get news-related links. Check with the journalists and reporters for your local paper; they may be starved for something to write about, and you could help them. Everhart noted that her company got press coverage and a link just because they hired 24 people over the course of six months. “Whether it’s your staff doing a day of community outreach, helping a local charity or nonprofit organization, or just doing something really cool, people will write about it,” she observed.

Now you have some useful ideas for getting links to your new website. Keep thinking about it, and I’m sure you can come up with many more. Good luck!

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