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.
But in a few areas it’s folly: directory submissions, link exchanges and paying for links.
Once you’ve got your on-site SEO in shape, the biggest factor in moving your site up the search results is the number of links coming into your site.
So here are 4 ways to build links to your new website. And take note: they’re not fast, but they are effective and you won’t be penalized by the search engines.
1. Commenting on other blogs
The most important message here 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 as well as the link.
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 links from high quality, related sites will do wonders for your site’s ranking.
2. Guest posting on other blogs
This is like commenting, in that you’ll get both links and traffic if you do it well, but it takes more work and time.
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.
That’s OK – it stops the hit and run spammers.
But become an active member (answering questions and helping people) and, after the prescribed number of posts, your signature will be activated.
I use forums to answer questions. This has a couple of benefits: a) you come across as helpful, so you’re accepted into the community more quickly, and b) 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.
Again: if you can’t add something of value, don’t add anything.
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.
And the more active you are the more links you’ll get.
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, as I wrote here, Twitter is a great market research tool if you use it in this way!
Initially the search engines ignored the social media sites and the links weren’t much good anyway, because they all went through re-directs.
But the search engines (particularly Google) have revised their view since then, and sites like Twitter and Google+ are now providing increasingly strong indicators to the search engines of sites that are well-regarded by others.
And, of course, Google+, allied with the Plus 1 button, can bring you lots of links and search engine credibility.
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.
A couple of times I’ve urged 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.
That said, the wider number of sites you can get links from the more credibility your site will have with the search engines.
None-the-less, if you keep it focused initially, and get good links from good sites, you will attract new visitors. Some of them will, inevitably, link to your site. So the number of sites linking to yours will grow naturally – and that’s what you want.
As I said at the outset, this is not instant links. It takes time and work to build them up properly.
But the time and effort you put in will repay you in spades in the future, because you’ll be better protected against search engine algorithm changes.