Without a doubt, link development is the tricky part of SEO. Most people know by now that inbound links to a site affect its rankings. That being the case, the question becomes, “Where do I get links”?
Here are some of the typical questions I get from website owners and marketing managers:
- Where do i get links to my site?
- Should I buy links?
- Should I start looking for reciprocal links?
The simple fact of the matter is that search engines (especially Google) are very interested in the kinds of links that point to your site, and what those links say about your site. Google has made it clear that they value editorially given links, and consider link buying and other tactics to be outside of their quality guidelines. Matt Cutts from Google has a blog post on the subject.
Regardless of Google’s stance on the subject, my advice to webmasters (especially those with new sites) is this:
Go after links that you deserve!
By deserve, I mean pages on the web that have a reason to link to you. These are pages whose content is thematically relevant to your product / service. This means that if you sell pineapples in California, you should be on the directory of California fruit markets / retailers.
One of my former SEO clients was a psychotherapist based in New York. Her domain and site had been around for over 7 years but the site didn’t have very many inbound links. I remember sitting with here right there and searching the web for Psychotherapist databases and lists. We found three different sites that listed New York based psychotherapists but had not listed her. We found out that it was free to be listed, so we reached out to them, and they were kind enough to give us the links.
You see the key there? We were qualified to be on the list, and so it was not hard to get them to link to us. I just had to do some research to identify such link targets, and we were on our way.
The following are examples of places to find links that you deserve:
- Top 10 lists
- Professional / business directories (National & Local)
- Online communities relevant to your product / service
- Clubs and organizations relevant to your product
These are just some of the ways you can find such links. In order to find these targets, it is very useful to do Google searches, and work with useful software such as LinkDiagnosis, which allows you to view some of the links pointing at a given site. This enables you to do some research on your competition, find out who is linking to them (and why), and find ways to contact that site owner and get a link from them. In fact, this is one of my favorite ways of finding links because you are dealing with webmasters who are potentially more open to link partnerships than others.
At the end of the day, you can talk about all the fancy tactics that you want, but it is always great (and smart) to start out by obtaining the links you deserve.