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Simply lying on your back is not a valid method of link development. Like everything else, you have to work for it. The oft chanted advice, "Build it and they will come" is not a word of wisdom, it's a line from a fantasy flick. That's as silly as asking someone to trust the force. So get over it.
I question the motives and experience of most people suggesting content building as link development because they consistently never, never, never tell you the other steps that go into building a quality content site that attracts organic one-way links. In most cases it's part of an anti-link exchange email rant, and never an attempt at promoting a useful method for link development.
To make it work you still have to spend money on promotion for visibility. No one will link to you if no one can find you. Since a great content site doesn't start out with links, you will have to advertise and promote.
Dropping a load on AdWords is a great way of kick starting a website. But be sure to have a tell a friend link on it so that webmasters can TAF themselves then put up a link.
Notify the Press
People often promote press releases as a method of gaining inbound links, but most online newspapers archive their articles for 30-90 days then hide them. Nevertheless, anything that brings people into your site is going to encourage people to link to you.
Encourage People to Link to You
It's cheesy and blatantly promotional but if you don't ask you won't never get. Slap up a link to us page with suggested text links and banners.
Submit your site to DMOZ and Yahoo. If it's non-commercial then submit it to Zeal. I've benefited from lazy webmasters raiding Zeal for authoritative links to highlight on their websites for their readers.
Spam the About.com Editors
Contact the About.com editor for your topic and let them know you're there. Highlight one of your better articles or sections and tell them about your resource.
Email other webmasters about it
When you are thirsty you don't wait for the water to come to you. You go to the water. It makes no sense to never contact webmasters about your website. Some of them do throw one-way outbounds.
Building perpetual momentum
There comes a point where you gain organic inbound link momentum but like going down a slide, you have to scoot yourself over the edge before it happens. Don't build and wait. Promote, promote, promote.
Let's add to this list because there is more here that can be done to helping a website attain self-perpetuating inbound link momentum.
Figure out what kind of site is likely to give you a one way link, and what kind of surfer is likely to tell their friends about your site. Their may well be some overlap between those two groups. If you can target the overlapping group, getting a one way link is probably going to be a lot easier.
And if they link to you, they may be much more likely to tell their friends with websites about your site and encourage them to post a link also.
These folks may not be the 800 pound gorillas of your market, but they might well bring you to the gorillas attention.
Don't build and wait. Promote, promote, promote.
I agree with MB: organic link development needs a significant investment of energy to get the process started. It's like making bread ... there can be variations in the recipe but you can only leave the dough to rise after you've done the work of measuring, mixing and kneading.
Offline advertising would suit some sites more than others, but every site owner should give thought to whether it should be part of their mix, and what the possibilities might be in their area.
Quality Content as Passive Link Development
In Search of Viral Organic One Way Inbound Links
While it's definitely passive, I'm not exactly sure I'd call it viral, but quality content can certainly attract one way links from scrapers.
And yes, the search engines may toss a boatload of scraper sites out of the index from time to time, but there doesn't seem to be any shortage of new scrapers sites coming down the pike to replace them.
So just post the content and wait for the scrapers to come by and grab a snippet or two. That's about as passive as one can get.
Requesting the interview lets the expert know you're there. Getting the interview gives you great content for your site that won't be something everyone else has. Promoting the interview connects your site to the industry expert and may even lead to the industry expert promoting your article to in turn promote themselves.
Do Product Reviews
If you are a content site in a niche area that has a selection of products targeting it, try reviewing some of them (I'm not talking products made by huge merchants that are household names - I mean niche area products that not everyone may know about) - and contacting the company you reviewed to let them know about it. Also let them know how to link to it (especially if positive) to show off their endorsement from an industry site. Side note not link related per se: Also put up a page letting other conmpanies know how they can submit products to you for you to review and test. You may end up getting requests for reviews rather than hunting the products down.
Start a Campaign
This won't work for every industry, but if you have a site that has a "mission" or can be easily connected to a cause, start a campaign for the cause with buttons, information, etc... great way to get people to link back to the site hosting it and gives you a great "newsworthy" aspect for a press release (and I'm not exploiting... I donate to any causes I promote - they never complain about the money.)
>>>Slap up a link to us page with suggested text links and banners.
Don't forget to add a 80x15 image size to the banner choices - bloggers tend to stick with this size and like it or not, blogging is a growing trend prone to "freer linking" than most sites.
Just a few ideas that most people don't think about... good thread MB.
I did a variation of it once where I included a small glowing profile of an industry expert within an article, wrote to him to let him know if there was anything he wanted to add to it, and the guy linked to me from his site. Not only was it a great link, but it gave my site an authoritative validation.
These kinds of links become passively viral, imo, when others who follow the industry pick up on them. They get passed around from site to site. There are people out there researching links for their web audience, researching for sites to highlight in their newsletter, and even researching for news articles. It's like a ball rolling downhill, it gains momentum. Funny thing about passive link dev, takes a lot of work, eh?
>>Email other webmasters about it
Personally speaking, I prefer mailing owners who tell their webmasters what to do. It's a serious point and has to do with identifying "real" links and "real" traffic.
Before I get some frothing at the mouth again, I've got nothing against what some people do with link development. My experience, however, has been that little traffic has come from any site that is also featuring "Bulgarian Condo Rentals" as a link partner, even if is has good SERPs and a medium toolbar PR.
Some amazing and very motivated traffic has come from "good ole boy" sites which would normally be ignored by the lazier or less creative link mailers.
>>Encourage People to Link to You
Now this is just personal prejudice with no scrap of evidence - and I may be passing up on good partners here - but I don't want anything on my sites that implies that I am conscious of links - not a "link to me" script, not a links directory, not a reciprocal link programme, nothing.
Part of it has to do with keeping a beady eye on the engines, and part of it has to do with creating a brand of being a disinterested authority - the kind that people like to link to. So no, not "build it and they will come" but "if you are building it right, then they will come".
Site promotion starts earlier than many people realise
Somewhere in this forum (probably by paynt around Y2K) there are posts on this subject...
This is why I don't have much time for those who say that it is impossible for a site in their niche to get any links.
Before I start a site I will have a look at the whole neighbourhood around that subject. Sooner or later I will stumble across "nests" of quality sites adjacent to my proposed space. Quality means in this sense that they may be quality in the way that they link out, or the way that they are linked to by an authority site, or in some other way.
Before I even start on the site, I will consider how to integrate a honeypot for those particular sites that might encourage them to link to me. Once my site is active, I will try to make them aware of that section.
Three cheers for stever and others who not only know what business they are building but why. How do you define quality links without first defining your site? Where and how do you locate those links? When and how to approach the site owner? Where, when, and how to market your site?
Where else would (could) a business be opened without preparation in high expectation of free-flowing riches. The same anguished litany of blame analysis, directed everywhere but at their own incompetence and ignorance, appears every day in every forum. A running site gag.
I have never been an advocate of links for the sake of links nor quantity equals quality and agree with stever's cautionary comments about "encouraging" links.
I do not seek viral linkage volume nor viral visitor volume. What I do seek is viral qualified visitor volume (or is that an oxymoron?), which requires planning, effort, and a modicom of luck.
Further to current suggestions:
* provide content of sufficient quality and quantity to be a defacto authority site.
* provide content syndication with byline, about, and link.
* participate in site related newsgroups/forums/organisations - especially those that allow signature files.
Nice listing of useful ideas.
Personally speaking, I prefer mailing owners who tell their webmasters what to do.
It's good practice to email whoever is designated on the website as the point of contact. I'm hesitant to send an email to the owner/president/whoever of the company if the website is explicit about who to email about website suggestions. I would never email someone listed on the whois information, especially if that's the only information listed, as there are spam issues to consider, especially if your domain is listed with Godaddy.
Certainly small mom & pops who are the owners/webmasters/mail room clerk are a good way to go, especially if they don't know anything about WebmasterWorld, PR, and "the value of links."
So no, not "build it and they will come" but "if you are building it right, then they will come"...
I think it's fair to say that when people say "If you build it they will come" it's assumed that what is being built will be right. While it helps to build it right, there is more that goes along with it. It's not enough to build it right.
I don't want anything on my sites that implies that I am conscious of links...
Yeah, I know what you're getting at. I hate any mention whatsoever of PageRank, Google, ranking, optimization and search engines.
Not saying you're wrong about not mentioning links, though. I can see why it's not appropriate for some sites, especially if you're corporate.
But for my own sites I'm way ok with encouraging people to link. Bring them on. ;)Y
Personal experience has made me a believer in the phrase, "you won't get what you don't ask for," and depending on the kindness of strangers has never sounded like a viable strategy.
But you raise a good point that asking for links might not fit into the brand/design scheme of every website.
I do not seek viral linkage volume...
Before I even start on the site, I will consider how to integrate a honeypot for those particular sites that might encourage them to link to me.
Excellent advice. Researching possible link partners and taking some time to think up a list of possible partner niches is a good idea. The planning process usually happens after I've discovered a good niche to build in, but before I purchase a domain name. Fantastic point, thanks for bringing that up, stever.