This is part of my Stump Ian internet marketing questions series. In this question, David asked “Though this is a public setting, what would you outline as a scalable, time/cost effective backlinking strategy(ies)?”
Don’t worry, David, there’s no secret sauce to give away here. I’ve always seen four ways to build links:
Be a really big company
The easiest way to build links? Be Nike, or Sony, or the New York Times. I’ll assume that one’s not in reach, or you’d be paying a consultant $500,000 to tell you the next 3 items.
Success rate: 99%
Submit your site to every directory, social media platform, top 10 list and anywhere else you can think of. Sorry, I’m not going to give you a list here. You’ll need to find a good one on your own, or join SEOMOZ and get theirs, or maybe purchase my training when it comes out and use that one. Mwahahaha.
Directory submission and such can set a foundation, but don’t expect it to do more than that. Every SEO on the planet has a list of directories, and they spam the crap out of them.
But it’s easy, straightforward and good way to get started. Since most people think SEO isn’t worth the money, chances are directory submissions will get you a bit of a head start on many competitors.
And there are side benefits: Social media profile creation will help protect your reputation. Directory submissions generate a bit of direct traffic (sometimes). And press releases do still work as media attention generators on occasion.
I count online press releases, article syndication, directory submission and social media submission all as part of this strategy.
Success rate: 10%
You can’t buy links. If you’re not an SEO, just don’t do it. The chances of pouring money down a hole are about 100%.
However, you can provide all sorts of incentives to create links. For example, you can create a simple box on link-worthy pages of your site that make it easy to link, like this:
4 link building strategies, from Conversation Marketing
Note how you can click, and it’s already selected? All a visitor has to do is copy, and then paste the code into their site, and voila – a link.
You can also create widgets that include links back to your site, and use services like Tynt.com to turn lazy cut-and-pasters into unwitting link builders.
These strategies are great, if you have a web developer who gives a darn, or if you have the skills yourself. If you don’t, unfortunately, this will be really frustrating.
Success rate: 20%
Write a lot
This is the one strategy that’s guaranteed to work. Spend a little time learning to be a good SEO copywriter (which means a good copywriter, too – not a crappy one).
Then set a consistent writing schedule. Post new stuff to your web site on schedule; submit unique content to blog carnivals; do some guest blogging.
Keep writing. Always strive for the perfect blog post (OK, that one’s a joke). Seriously, though, work to produce great-looking, easy-to-read, useful blog posts. Keep doing it.
As time passes, if you’re writing good stuff, and you’re working to promote it via social media and other channels, it’ll start to build links. Plus, your guest blogging and participation in blog carnivals will work, too.
Success rate: 75%
Feasibility: Depends on you
Out-execute the competition! Find all those links you already have but didn’t know about. Fix or redirect busted ones, get links where you should have ’em. Those are your easiest ones.
Link building isn’t scalable
Yes, there are other ‘tricks’. I’ve got lots of places I go hunting for links, and most of them are worth a link or two per client. But that’s just a link or two. If you’re up against sites with 2500 unique inlinking domains, there is no scalable, affordable way to do it. You’re going to need to put a lot of time into it. I wish I had better news.
The good news, though, is that very few people do a good job of link building. Put the time into it and you get ahead.