You knew this one was coming, of course. The search engine optimisation (“SEO”) task that nobody likes, and that most marketing managers ignore, hoping it’ll go away. However, there’s no way around it: links to your website from other sites will give you more of a boost in the search engine rankings than almost anything else. And nobody is in a better position to get links to your site than you are. For Google, the number of links you have is one of the most important measures of how important your site is – as simple as that.
First of all, remember that there are good links and very bad links. An example of good links are those where you’re linked to as a reference in the middle of an article on an authoritative, well-ranked site. So if an article mentions 4-20mA aerospace widgets, but chooses to link to you like that in the text as the background resource, instead of explaining things there and then, that’s just what you want. Especially if the site the link is on happens to be relevant, technical and authoritative itself. Google looks at the link and thinks – rightly – that your linked-to page is one which it really should be serving up as a result for “4-20mA aerospace widgets” if it isn’t already.
Very bad links are just ones where your website is randomly linked-to on irrelevant, poor quality sites. A typical example is when you see a meaningless comment from someone called “Mr Blue Widget Supplier” (with his name linking to his site) on a site which is nothing to do with blue widgets. This is what cheap “SEO consultants” will do for you. A few years ago it would have had a beneficial effect, if they’d planted enough of these comments. Then Google started to ignore this stuff. Now it might even penalise you for having it.
If your website has any useful content, you may be surprised how many links it will have built up over the years without any effort on your part. But if you want to proactively increase the number of links out there, you need to use your connections and think creatively.
Firstly, make sure you lean on anybody who wants to keep you happy. Suppliers spring to mind. But don’t just expect them to randomly give you links from their site: suggest a way in which they can do that and benefit from it too. Perhaps offer them a testimonial? If I was a supplier to Business Marketing Online Ltd., I’d love a couple of paragraphs to put on my site about how this supplier of 4-20mA aerospace widgets found my service such good value for money. (See what I did there?)
Get involved in online conversations, on blogs, forums and groups like those on LinkedIn, and – where relevant and appropriate – drop in links to your own pages. But keep your links useful! Or what about academic organisations or conferences with which you might be associated. Are they linking to you? If not, can you give them something they’ll publish which contains links to your pages? Are you sponsoring anyone, or donating to a charity? All of those organisations might have a website where they’ll add a write-up about you and your relationship – with those all-important links.
Finally, search online for link-building ideas, and you’re bound to come across some others which will inspire you.
As with adding new content, it’s good to have a schedule or target for building links, even if it’s only one good one a week. And again, it’s an ideal job for the occasional spare hour, or for a marketing assistant.