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How To Get Links Without Asking

by Ken McGaffin

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Sending out link requests is a time-consuming business. So wouldn't it be wonderful if other sites linked to you without being asked?

Sound impossible? Well, it can be done and here are ten strategies to prove it. Why not start 2006 by making sure you use them?

In a link building campaign, you have to find target Web sites in the first place, review them to decide if asking for a link is worthwhile, identify the contact person and send them a customized link request. If you can do all that in 15 minutes per request, you'll be doing very well. On that timing, you'll be able to send out 160 requests in a 40 hour week and with a success rate of say 10%, you'll get 16 links for your efforts.

Perhaps there is a better way to spend those 40 hours.

Sometimes the best way to get links is not to ask for them. That doesn't mean you should sit back, do nothing and wait for links to appear. Spend time creating content and making your site as attractive and easy to link to as possible. There are lots of things you can do to build your link popularity without sending out link requests.

Here are some suggestions:

  1. Make it clear on your own Web site that you want links - ask for them directly and make it easy for people to link by writing the linking code for them (using keyword phrases in linking text of course). Explain why it will help: “If you've found this site useful, please link to us so that others can benefit.”
  2. Play an active part in online discussion groups and forums. Not only will you learn, but you'll become known and will spot the movers and shakers - and if your people post good opinions and helpful advice, people will link to you.
  3. Publish a regular newsletter and republish the content on your Web site. Encourage people to link by asking, “if you've enjoyed this newsletter, you can link to the permanent version at (insert URL).”
  4. Publish articles on other Web sites - ezines, information sites, media sites, even article banks. This works well. You can find sites to submit articles to by doing a Google search, e.g. - intitle:“submit an article” business - this produces over 1,000 results. Spend time looking for niche ezines and newsletters that serve your market, scan the type of content they publish and adapt your writing to their style.
  5. Create an interactive tool. My favourite of old was 'The longevity text'. You answered about 20 questions and the tool predicted at what age you would be likely to die. Irresistible - I still remember that my prediction was 83. The test was designed and published by an insurance company - could they have been trying to sell me a pension? A little bit of creativity in thinking about such tools will be time well spent and a good programmer will be able to create a tool in just a few hours.
  6. Create great content. (OK, it's an old trick, but it still works.) Just keep publishing great stuff. One of the best at this is search engine marketer and prolific writer Jill Whalen. Her weekly newsletter from http://www.high rankings.com is a model of consistency and genuine value to her many thousands of readers.
  7. Submit your Web site to legitimate award sites. Mike Corso's Cool Site of the Day, http://www .coolsiteoftheday.com, is a must together with any others you can find. You'd be surprised at how high your chances of success are.
  8. Praise and link. When you find genuinely useful resources, write a short, complementary review together with a link. Then publish on your Web site and click on it just to make sure it ends up in your target's referrer logs. Larry Chase of Web Digest for Marketers publishers a monthly newsletter that reviews about 10 Web Site Resources - you'll find it at http://www.wdfm.com. A few days later he writes to each reviewed site and allows them to quote his comments in return for a link.
  9. Become a source of quotes. Provide sharp, useful, timely quotes for the media. You can get yourself known and you'll find journalists will seek you out. Sign up for services such as http://www.prleads.com ($99 per month) or the premium priced http://www.sourcewire.com (£1,200 per annum).
  10. Volunteer to become an editor for several directories. You'll be able to submit reviews of your own sites and you'll have opportunities to get to know your market better - that inevitably leads to more linking opportunities. Go beyond the obvious - as well as http://www.dmoz.org, try http://www.joeant.com, http://www.skaffe.com, and http://www.web-beacon.com.

Sometimes we can get too wrapped up in sending out link requests. Stepping back and thinking of some creative ways to get people to link without being asked will be time well spent.

About the Author

Ken McGaffin is author of The Linking Matters Report and publishes a regular newsletter on linking strategy. He provides training and consultancy in link building and online marketing.

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  • Search Engine Optimization: An Hour a Day. By Jennifer Grappone, Gradiva Couzin. Sybex (6-13-2006) 
  •  Search Engine Marketing, Inc.: Driving Search Traffic to Your Company's Web Site. By Mike Moran, Bill Hunt. IBM Press (July 31, 2005) 
  • Professional Search Engine Optimization with PHP. By Jaimie Sirovich, Cristian Darie. Wrox (04-16-2007) 
  •  Search Engine Visibility, 2nd Ed. By Shari Thurow. Peachpit (09-08-2007).

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