Link building is one of the most difficult parts of search engine optimization and naturally we’re all delighted when we ‘crack it’ and get new links pointing to our site.
Job done. Good links. Let’s move on to the next job.
I don’t think so.
Think for a minute. Someone has just responded to your link request or has heard about you, read about you, found you after a search, gone to your site, perhaps even bought from you. Whatever the reason, he thought it was worth his while to take the time to link to you.
And what did you do? Tick the box, count the link and move on?
No! Such a person deserves a little bit more of your attention and time.
Not only should you be thanking them for the link, but by establishing a relationship you could open up rich collaboration and business opportunities, as well as boosting your search engine rankings.
Consider these eight important questions for sites that already link to you.
1. How popular is their site?
The more popular the site, the more beneficial it can be for you. A good measure of the popularity of a site is the number of inbound links it gets so check it out. Then you can sort in order of priority and start with the most popular.
2. Which of the sites that link to you are bringing you real traffic?
Have a look at your log files or investigate Google Analytics to find out which of your links are actually bringing you traffic. When sites bring you traffic, it can be for a combination of reasons, for example:
- They get high traffic themselves
- They’ve talked warmly about your products and given you a good review
- They’ve placed your link in a prominent spot on their site.
For whatever reason, a critical question is ‘does the traffic they bring convert to sales?’ (Set up Google Analytics to help you find out.) And if you find out that they link to you, they bring you traffic and that the traffic they bring converts, then stop reading this article IMMEDIATELY and get in touch with them.
Invite them for lunch and explore what else you can do together.
3. Have you done them a favor in return?
No? Do so.
Yes? Do so again.
It’s very easy to do a favor for someone and being helpful and willing is a great way to build relationships – and relationships are at the heart of link building.
4. Can you put a name to the person behind the site and do you know how the link got to be there?
It’s people who make links, not websites. Visualize a network of people linking to you, not a network of websites linking to you.
Find out who they are and do a bit of research on them. What do they do? What do you have in common? Why did they link to you?
5. What social sites are they active on and have you linked up with them?
Contact through social media is so important in today’s world of web 2.0. Because these people have linked to you, they’re relevant to you – and they’ll have their own network of friends who are also likely to be interested in what you have to offer.
6. Can you say at least one thing that’s great about their site?
Make sure you do.
We all love a bit of flattery and it can be a powerful weapon in building relationships with other people.
Dale Carnegie put it very well when he said, “Flattery is telling the other person precisely what he thinks about himself”.
So make a positive comment, write a complimentary blog post, agree with them, elaborate on their ideas. You’ll be getting yourself an even bigger fan.
7. What linking text do they use when they link to you?
Of course, the linking text that people use when they link to you is very important for your search engine rankings. Sometimes it can be as lazy as ‘click here’. It’s worth making a quick approach to them and suggesting they use one of your important keywords in the linking text.
8. Are there any ways you can collaborate, either in content or in business?
If there’s really a good business fit between you and a site that links to you, then they’re likely to respond positively to any business proposition you may make. Time to get your thinking hat on.
In summary, if you see links as simply a way to boost your search engine rankings, then you’ll miss out on some tremendous opportunities.
Link building is really about building relationships with people and who knows where that could take you?
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About Ken McGaffin
Ken McGaffin is a writer, speaker and trainer in online marketing. He provides webinar and video training in link building, online PR and content marketing on his site at LinkingMatters.com You can join him at Google+ or on Twitter
He wrote The Definitive Guide to Successful Link Building with Mark Nunney, and has created two in-depth online courses, 'Get Links: 7 Weeks to Link Building Mastery' and 'Broken Link building Video Course', both with Garrett French.