How to get links for your blog or website

Building connections at Columbia, NYC, in 1911 (courtesy Library of Congress on Flickr Commons)Who is most likely to link to your content?

Those who find it valuable, but especially other online publishers who know you, appreciate your work and want to help give you a boost.

How do you get their attention and interest?

By building personal and professional working relationships, on- and off-line.

Sorry, no magic pixie dust here. Blogger outreach and social networking take time and effort.

Hey, You! Gimme A Link

I thought about all this when I saw a posting on the Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) site.

The “Country Vacations & Resorts” vacation rental site (hell no, they aren’t getting a link from me here) was making a bid for linkbuilding by getting bloggers to run their prewritten content as guest posts:

“Guest site [to run a Country Vacations-provided post] must be at least a PR2 [PageRank 2 on Google.] Posts are unique and only for one publication per post. Have several 400-500 word articles that will need “homes”, 1 link (required), 1 image (I provide), would be great but not required. Happy to consider exchange posts with my blog….”

They want links from sites that rank at their PR or higher (my stats show they’re currently PR2 – as a comparison, this blog is PR4) and they want one deep link back to their blog from a wide variety of other blogs.

If I saw this guest post, I would no doubt find very carefully placed links back to specific Country Vacations content, with anchor text chosen to support their SEO (Search Engine Optimization) for certain keywords.

Links: Coin Of The Realm For Search

There’s nothing illegal here. None of it smacks of black hat SEO; it’s all pretty much in line with Google guidance on quality links and linkbuilding although I wouldn’t exactly call it the “natural” linkbuilding that Google says it prefers.

Here’s why all of this matters….the number, type and quality of inbound links to your content has a direct impact on where you rank in search engines. Links from Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and many other social sites are “no follow” – they don’t count in Google’s algorithm (although they’re fine for humans, who DO still matter.) So, all that retweeting of a link to your blog post is not as powerful, SEO-wise, as a direct link to the post from a quality site (there are some rumblings, however, that social signals are starting to count in search for both Google and Bing.)

From what I’ve seen, everyone opining about how to get links ends up saying some version of, “Suck up to people really hard and then ask them for a link.” Let me tell you, that works a lot better with people who already know, respect and like you. Otherwise, remove your lips from their bottom, pronto.

The issue here is the randomness of the request in the example above;  it was tossed out in a travel blogger’s forum, for all comers. Hey – Newsflash! Those who are that desperate for content are not the bloggers you want.

Online publishers (well, the good ones) are rather picky about what they post. Why would anyone take some random company’s content, slap it on their precious digital baby, bore/disgust their readers and tacitly endorse a company that didn’t take the time to build a relationship?

What To Do (Instead Of Random Crap) To Build Links

**  Publish interesting, quality stuff that helps and informs your readers. Period.  It’s the hardest thing to do consistently, and the most critical.  After you publish, make sure people can find out about it. Yep, it’s a marketing game. Crafting the content is only the start.

**  Network your tail off on the social Web to get in front of those who might link to your work. Connect with people on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Follow hashtags where bloggers congregate, like #blogchat every Sunday night, 8 pm CST with Mack Collier.

**  Network your tail off IRL (In Real Life.) Go where the geeks are. Attend conferences like BlogWorld and New Media Expo, South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) or niche-specific ones like BlogHer Food (for food bloggers.)  Get that blog URL on the business cards you hand out, too, and follow up after the conference.

**  Once you have a good relationship – however long it takes to build it – then make your pitch. For example, are you a California destination? Ask relevant people in your blogger network if they might be interested in a guest post from you about certain highlights of your town; even a general Q&A with you would be fine. Try to craft your guest post your way, but remember, it’s their blog.

**  Give to get. Do plenty of linking out yourself, to quality content; it is noticed and appreciated by the link recipient. I remember the days when I was a newish blogger and got a big ol’ fat link to one of my posts from a big-deal website. It happened because the author and I connected online and became friends, so she was looking out for me and helping me grow.  Thanks, Liz Strauss, for not turning up your nose at my PageRank back then. 🙂

Building links is part of blogging – that’s one reason I still run the Carnival of Cities blog carnival after all these years. It’s my way of highlighting blogs and giving back, through links and attention.

How do you inspire people to link to your content? Please let us know down in the comments….

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8 Responses to How to get links for your blog or website

  1. Kay says:

    Thanks for the blog carnival mention. After being swamped this tax season, I needed to know that the time I take away from sleep to do this is worthwhile.
    Kay´s last [post] ..When deducting work expenses- ask your boss for reimbursement first

    • Hi Kay,

      Some have questioned the SEO usefulness of the multiple outbound links I provide in a Carnival edition, but really, who can read Google’s mind? Past experience and my gut tells me that there’s payoff in there, including bloggers I would not have found any other way.

  2. Pete Meyers says:

    And the quote of the day goes to “…remove your lips from their bottom, pronto.”

    I think you’re spot on that there are no shortcuts to building real, meaningful relationships that in time can benefit everyone.
    Pete Meyers´s last [post] ..Paris meets North Africa- Tastes of Morocco and Tunisia

  3. Samantha says:

    Nice take on SEO for the travel industry. As someone who works in the field (SEO, not travel), I’ve found that being active in the blogging world is one of the best ways to get natural links from other blogs. There are too, too, too many bloggers and site-owners who are extreme egoists. And it shows in their low Page Rank (ha ha.. karma!) They only share the content they write, they never link to content from their own site for fear of losing “link juice” … this is an awful strategy and it works against the laws of the web.

    What I find works best is to leave interesting comments on blogs I love (remember to give love to the blossoming bloggers/fellow writers who are underexposed as well as high-traffic blogs). You’ll see some traffic and get a boost from links that are Followed. And it’s beating a dead horse – but write good content. Don’t post just to post. And guest posting is gold; though it’s difficult to get people to agree to post your stuff, and it can be frustrating when you have a couple posts that no one wants. 🙁 haha.

    Nofollowed links actually DO count in the way Google values and ranks your site or blog — though indirectly. Though they don’t pump the link juice, if all of your blog’s backlinks are “Follow” ‘ed, it’s going to look suspicious and unnatural, which is something you don’t want. And like you mentioned, social signals are likely going to officially come into play in the future.
    Samantha´s last [post] ..It’s about to get all cat lady up in here

  4. Hi Pete,

    Many don’t want to hear the “build relationships first” advice because they’re in a big hurry (hmmm, just woke up to the reality of the social Web, maybe?)

    As we know, human connections are hard to push along rapidly unless both parties are willing to do that….and no, helping someone hawk their brand/project is not necessarily high on my To Do list.

  5. Hi Samantha,

    Thanks for noting that up-and-coming but underexposed bloggers are worth one’s time. As Liz Strauss often says, “Little bloggers can grow up to be big bloggers.”

  6. Bob says:

    very good info as a new guy on the block I am trying to make the site interesting, trying to find a comfortable writing style and trying to get peoples attention so they will read it and make a comment so I have been trying to figure out all of this link, backlink, seo, keyword, stuff.

  7. Morgan says:

    There are lots of ways in finding or building links for your website or blog site. It takes a lot of effort and time and yes it also need resources. But you can do it all by yourself. Just allocate time to do this.
    Morgan´s last [post] ..{Mr. and Mrs. Pitts} Kerrville, Texas Wedding Photographer

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