The original title of this post refers to ‘links’, but the methods I’ve discussed below are more about increasing your audience. A targetted audience is what you really need.
Links from all the places I’ve covered below are now ‘nofollow’, which removes the link-value they would once have provided.
So think in terms of audience, rather than links.
Building up the traffic levels to a new website is the biggest job you face once you’ve got it launched.
The temptation is to throw money at the problem and, in certain areas, this works well: buying traffic through PPC or other paid advertising channels, for example.
Once you’ve got your on-site SEO in shape, the biggest factor in getting visitors to your site is getting your content in front of relevant audiences.
1. Commenting on other blogs
Commenting on other blogs gets your comment, and the link you place in the comment form, in front of the host site’s audience.
However, keep in mind that commenting on blog posts has declined significantly over the years because the conversations that used to be held on blogs are now held on social media.
That said, here are some pointers for effective commenting.
The most important message relating to commenting is to make sure you read the article you’re commenting on fully, including any comments that have gone before, and write something that adds to the article or to previous comments.
At all costs avoid the ‘nice post, thanks for sharing’ type comment. That’s just spam and likely won’t be approved.
If you can’t think of anything decent to say, then don’t comment.
A thoughtful, useful comment will build your credibility and will also encourage people to click through to your site – so you’ll get a traffic boost.
It’s worth spending time searching out 3 or 4 high traffic, well respected blogs in your niche. Get to know them and then comment regularly on articles that come out.
But make sure your comments are worthwhile!
Don’t use the scatter-gun approach and try to comment on loads of blogs a day – you’ll drive yourself to distraction and your comments will be poor quality.
A steady build-up of visits from high quality, related sites will do wonders for your site’s ranking.
2. Guest posting on other blogs
This, again, is about getting your content in front of someone else’s audience, in the same way commenting does.
But because you have an entire blog post to impress them with it can be an effective way to boost awareness of you and your blog.
Once again, though, links from guest posts are now ‘nofollow’ so it’s not a viable SEO strategy for increasing the number of links to your site.
But it is good for raising awareness of you and your site by getting yourself in front of a different audience.
If you’re building your relationship with other bloggers through commenting, these blogs are often a good place to start looking for guest posting opportunities.
In fact, if your comments are good enough you may even be invited to write a guest post.
If you’re commenting regularly on a blog you’ll quickly discover whether they accept guest posts simply by keeping a note of the authors, or the bye-lines at the end of the articles.
If they do accept them, look for the guest post guidelines – they’ll be there somewhere but, if you can’t find them, contact the blogger and ask for them.
You’ll need to agree a subject to write about and the angle you’re going to approach it from.
If the guest post guidelines don’t explain what format to present your work in, either ask the blogger or send it in both Word and plain text format, including the HTML mark up with the plain text version.
You need to make it as easy as possible for the blogger to accept and publish your article. They’re busy people, so give them as little extra work as possible!
Once you’ve agreed a guest posting deal with someone it’s imperative you deliver what you’ve promised, on or before the deadline, written to the highest standard possible.
As counter-intuitive as it may seem, save your best efforts for your guest posts. These are advertisements for your site, so make them as good as you can.
3. Commenting on forums
As with blogs that you’re commenting on, find one or two forums that are closely relevant to the topic of your site and get to know the members.
You’ll be able to place a link to your site in your signature but, initially, many forums won’t publish your signature or allow you to post links. You will need to get through a ‘probation’ period before links are activated for your profile.
Again, though, that link, when it’s published, will be ‘nofollow’ so it doesn’t bring any SEO link building benefits.
I use forums to answer questions. This has a couple of benefits:
- You come across as helpful, so you’re accepted into the community more quickly
- It will give you topics on which to write articles for your own site.
As with commenting and guest posts, make sure your entries are thoughtful, accurate and helpful. And don’t simply repeat an answer that someone has already given, just so you can have an entry in that thread.
And, again: if you can’t add something of value, don’t add anything.
There’s usually nothing wrong with linking to a relevant article on your site, as long as it amplifies your answer, but make sure you give a summary of the information in your article first and that it’s relevant to the question that was asked.
However, I am a member of one forum that strictly prohibits linking to your own site, so be sure to check the rules first.
The more active you are the more likely people will start to visit your site.
4. Social Media Sites
Again, the approach here must be based on high quality input.
With social media sites (specifically, Twitter) I use the same approach as I do with forums: looking for questions I can answer and doing so.
The benefits are the same: you come across as helpful and you harvest lots of information for future articles. In fact, Twitter is a great market research tool if you use it in this way!
Once again, links to your website from the social media sites are ‘nofollow’ and the search engines actually pay more attention to the number of times your posts are shared, than the number of links to your site.
So links you place on the social media sites are there to enable people to visit your site, not to build links for the purposes of SEO.
Don’t forget to make sure your profile is fully competed in whichever social media sites you use, including a link to your site!
And, again, select just one or two social sites to work with – the ones where your audience hangs out.
Once again, I urge you to be focused – find 3 or 4 blogs to comment on or 2 or 3 forums to work. This is because you’ll drive yourself silly if you try to spread yourself too wide.
It’s still true that the wider the number of sites you can get links from, the more credibility your site will have with the search engines. But getting those links is a lot more difficult now than it was 10 years ago!
What you’re really focusing on now is getting yourself and your site in front of the widest audience possible.
The time and effort you put in now will repay you in the future, because you’ll be better protected against search engine algorithm changes.