Link building: why and how you should do it

When I recently mentioned ‘DIY search engine optimisation‘, those of you who looked into this further will have noticed that there are two components. The first is what you can do on your own site: sorting out the titles and tags, structuring things so that specific pages correspond to key search terms, and so on. The second thing is getting links from other sites, which is the one that most people neglect …because it’s hard work. However, it’s also very effective.

If you subcontract SEO work on your site to an agency, link building should be a primary activity for them. If you get a regular report, you should see a list of links which have been gained. But it’s hard for agencies to do this: they probably don’t understand your market or technology, and they almost certainly won’t have the contacts. That’s why I still think these things can be done just as well in-house.

So, where do we start? First of all, try to focus on specific searches and pages, not just getting any old links to your site. Armed with your list of key search terms and corresponding pages, you need to investigate (using Google) other resources on the web about each subject. It can be a long, thankless task going through Google results and seeing if you might have a chance of getting a priceless link to your page from another page which covers the topic. But occasionally you’ll come across a page written by someone you know, or which needs updating by adding a link to your page. These are your opportunities. Then you get in touch with the author (by telephone if possible, but a personal email if not) and explain why you’d both gain if they could amend their page to include you.

Keep a good record of which pages you’ve worked on, and who you’ve contacted, and you can steadily build up links which will make a measurable impact on your Google results ranking. You won’t get dozens. But every little helps.

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