As the entire world turns to marketing their products or services online, there is one question that pops up more and more every single day: “Do you have any idea how we can spread the word about _______?”
The simplest answer? Link building. I can hear you saying, “Seriously, link wha?!” I define link building as acquiring links from other websites to boost your online presence and search engine rankings. Which is essentially a fancy way of saying “spread the word!”
In the old days, people used to build links in bulk. You’ve probably even received the spam from time to time…something along the lines of “would you like to join in our gigantic link exchange?” It didn’t matter if the websites in question related to one another or not. Links were just swapped willy nilly with anyone who would listen.
These days, link builders put a lot more meaningful work into it. It’s not just about building links – we build relationships. Building relationships with like-minded folks and relevant websites not only yields more attention to your business, but also helps you get to know people who share your interests and passions.
There are three stages to the link-building process: research, outreach and follow-up. One leads right into another, and in each stage you can set the wheels in motion to build those great relationships that will be beneficial for both parties for years to come.
First up is doing some research to find a batch of relevant websites. The best way to do that is to start off with a few websites that you know and trust from your little corner of the world and then branch out from there.
What other websites does this site mention? Who else links to this site? Are the site owners active in social media? As you build your list, make sure to keep a record of your findings. When you’re starting a lot of new relationships, it helps to keep track of who owns what website, all of their social media information, what kind of content they like, etc.
If you’d like a basic template of how to keep up with this information, we’ve built one for you and you can download it here.
Once you’ve collected a list of websites you like and want to build a relationship with, it’s time to reach out to them. Social media is a fantastic way to begin your outreach. As you’re finding relevant websites, start following them on Twitter or create a Twitter list of all the folks you’d like to focus on. Compliment them on a great post once in a while. Share their stuff. Once you’ve built up a rapport, shoot them an email to see if they’d be up for running a guest post by you, writing a review of your product, etc.
The number one thing to remember throughout the outreach process is to BE GENUINE. Remember, your research has led you to the doorstep of folks who share your interests. Keep that in mind as you get in touch. You have a lot in common with the person you’re trying to build a relationship with, and sharing your enthusiasm will go a long way.
So you’ve built some great relationships and acquired some great links and mentions along the way. Now what?
Don’t drop those new relationships like a bad first date – remember to keep them going. Participate in the conversation on other websites by posting thoughtful comments. Share content from other sites with your own following. Keep up the conversation via social media.
Finally, keep the cycle going. Follow-up leads to more research with your new batch of favorite sites, which leads to more outreach. Wash, rinse, repeat. Remember: links (relationships!) = more visibility = higher search engine rankings = more business for all.
Learn more about the basics of link building and the tools you need to get started. Follow one business though the three-step process over at RavenTools.com.