Okay, you’re the proud mama or papa to your brand new website. Now what? This isn’t like the movies – just because you built it doesn’t mean they’ll come. The Internet is a huge limitless space with ever-growing numbers of websites. You are just one small website among millions. How will anybody ever find you? How do you become visible? Right now, you just exist out in the web, untethered. You need to become visible when someone searches for you and one way to become visible to people is to become visible to search engines. And one way to become visible to search engines such as Google, Yahoo, or MSN is for your site is to be tethered, or linked to other sites.
If you’ve spent any time reading Internet marketing blogs you know that link building is a huge part of a marketing campaign. Backlinks – links that point to your website – are a major factor in determining your popularity or ranking with the search engines. And of course, just like in high school, you want to be popular.
You can buy your way into links, but here we’re talking about a few free and easy ways. An obvious and natural way to build links is through content. When you start a link-building campaign for your new website, focus on attracting links that will add value for your website visitors and best represent your most important keywords too. It is invaluable to have visitors go to your site and share your content.
Here are a few easy and mostly free ways to build links for your website.
Blog Based Link Building
One way to get natural links back to your website is by setting up a blog for your company. Make sure you network online with other blogs that complement yours. If you share industry news and have useful and relevant content, you’ll attract links. Reference other bloggers in your content and link to other blogs in your industry.
For blogs, content is extremely important. Every time you add words to your blog or website, you are presenting yourself to a potentially huge audience. How does your blog’s content reflect your company? This content could be the page that carries your company’s name around the Internet world. Cheap content is just that – cheap. Create content that people want to read and that will make them come back again and again.
Reviewing products and services and posting those reviews on other sites is another way to build links. Your honest evaluations and smart opinions can also build your reputation as an expert in your field.
Link Building with Social Media
Another way to build natural links to your website is through social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Twitter. These sites allow you to set up a user profile where you can add information about you and your company including a link to your website.
Some sites, Facebook for example, also have a way to promote your business with a page, ad or group. Just keep in mind that there are good ways and bad ways to promote your business on social sites and you should observe proper etiquette when you do.
Link Building with Organizations and Directories
If your industry has professional organizations or associations that you belong to, check with them and see if they have an online directory with links to member sites. They may or may not charge a fee for this. If they do, it shouldn’t be much.
Check with your local Chamber of Commerce or Better Business Bureau. Links from sites like these can be very helpful. Check with other local businesses and organizations that have lists of businesses and request links from them too.
Online directories are another opportunity to look into. Yahoo! Directory is a good one. If your business is in a specific geographical area, you might also find some local directories to submit to that will boost your local visibility.
Links from Charities or Non-profits
If your company makes charitable donations to organizations and non-profits, see if they have a "donors" list on their website and ask if they will link to your website.
Links from Press Releases
Has your business just started or have you just launched a new product? A press release is a great idea to announce your news. There are quite a few press release distribution services available and some have a free first time offer.
Links from Partners
If your website offers information about other partner websites like business directories, you should make sure to use all your linking potential. You could have a badge that your partner could put on their site linking to you and one for your site that links to theirs.
If you have an RSS feed or a widget on your site that has good value to visitors, those can be taken from your website and displayed on another person’s website, linking back to your site.
The Internet is constantly evolving and there are thousands of ways to build links. Look around at other websites and see what they have and how they work. Look at your business, think outside the box and you might come up with other ways to develop links. If it all seems like too much, there are many online consulting companies that can help with link building, SEO optimization and brandcasting.