Practical Ecommerce

SEO: Link-building Opportunities

Link building is an ever-changing landscape. This is because the search engines make changes to their algorithms to thwart artificial link building, and because link building as a practice continues to morph. As time goes on, more webmasters will become aware of the importance that inbound links have on improving organic search results.

One result of this trend seems to be a significant increase in email requests for links. As a marketing director for a website, I get link requests almost daily from all kinds of Internet entities offering me all sorts of rewards and praise for a link. Every once in a while an offer seems legitimate. The offering website is relevant and responsible. But, otherwise, I read most of the emails quickly and I delete them and unless some legitimacy immediately stands out.

Seize on Personal Encounters

The most productive Internet link building I’ve experienced comes from in-person encounters. Working within your professional and social circles, these meetings can help to reinforce relevance for your website, which can help you decide to add a link, or not.

Asking for a link sometimes means offering one as well. Avoid direct link exchanges, however, because they are frowned upon by search engines and are likely to simply cancel one another out. But, if an exchange is necessary, use any secondary web properties that either of you might have.

There are many places to engage in link building, such as:

  • Conventions. No matter what your industry, conventions are a part of it. Conventions are often filled with people who control relevant websites.
  • Professional gatherings. These gatherings could be planned events or more casual affairs, but people representing relevant websites are likely to be in attendance.
  • Parties. Even at the most general gatherings, you’ll encounter people with websites. Often, people who have little or no knowledge of the search-engine implications are happy to offer a link.
  • Travel. If the guy next to you is a windbag, you might as well nudge the conversation towards websites and links.

If you want to start or augment a conversation that leads to a link-building opportunity, simply broach the subject. Business cards are a great way to exchange information. During the exchange is a good time to bring up the possibility of a link. After the initial meeting you can send an email–it’s much more likely to be read than one coming from an unknown entity– and request the link again. Avoid being demanding, but don’t be afraid to simply ask the question.

A Final Note

Link building can be valuable and it doesn’t have to be an exhausting experience. Engaging a single potential link partner in person is more likely to garner a link than sending 25 or 30 or more anonymous emails.

Jeff Muendel

Jeff Muendel

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  1. Jagath Narayan December 3, 2009 Reply

    Just a word of caution while "link building". Be careful of link exchange schemes. Google does not like them and will penalize your site if you cross the line.

    http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356

    "some webmasters engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. This is in violation of Google’s webmaster guidelines and can negatively impact your site’s ranking in search results"

  2. Jill Kocher December 8, 2009 Reply

    Jeff,

    This is a good reminder that the best way to avoid artificial link building is with legitimate human relationships. Amazing how many etailers fear the potential negatives in "allowing" human relationships with customers — what if we get negative comments, what if they ask questions and expect actual answers, what if it makes too much work for us to manage? Letting that fear control business practices also cuts off a valuable opportunity to promote and build links in social media networks and offline human networks.

    Oh, and can I have link? (ha ha ha)

  3. syvar December 8, 2009 Reply

    Well said Jeff. The human element is so important on the web. Unfortunately, so many web companies and webmasters look at the web as passive revenue. When webmasters keep in mind that their readers want personal interaction with the site and the community on the site, and deliver on that expectation, I believe they will be rewarded.

    ….and yes Jill, you can have a link. ;)

  4. Nicholas Burman December 8, 2009 Reply

    It’s good to see that automation and the easy way out are not the best way to do things. Google is helping build an organic internet for people, not for robots.

    It’s all about relationships anyhow.

  5. kevinmc3 December 10, 2009 Reply

    UNfortunately you will ALL be left in the dust if you think you can compete by using these "human relationship" link building startegies. You may not want to enageg in automation link building (NOT exchange link building which is worhtless anyway) and NOT black hat. But, unless you do adopt some automation link building you will NEVER compete with those who "get" the benefits of it.

  6. Nat December 11, 2009 Reply

    Despite the FUD that Kevin preaches I have to agree that the best way to get highly relevant links is through personal communication. Unless you are an Amazon or similarly sized company which naturally attracts links getting out there and beating the street, as it were, is the best bet you have.

  7. Glenn Evan Comanda January 14, 2010 Reply

    I’ve been doing link building programs for years to a number of sites from various industries. All I can say is that the best links a website can have are those that are voluntarily linked by other sites. For example, because your blog post is very unique and valuable to your niche in general, other sites who are related to yours will give credit to your post. If you spent reasonable amount of effort on the said content, it must be a good one. Larger sites will eventually notice yours and might mention you as a source, or if you’re lucky, they might link to yours! Remember that backlinks’ value vary so it is possible that a few solid backlinks from a very reputable website will beat the value of hundreds of low-quality ones.

    Another good thing is that you’ll develop reputation in your niche. If your visitors are impressed with your site, word-of-mouth promotion is a plus!