Back in the day, websites used to link to other websites like crazy. It was fun to share what we found or thought was interesting or valuable. Or, in some cases, even content we disagreed with.
This was also when website owners didn’t think about Google rankings with everything they did or didn’t do. It was all about sharing what we found. Now, most sites are run in the guise of what’s best for Google (and sadly not for site visitors).
Linking out then became a big concern. What if my site visitor leaves and doesn’t come back? The thing is, you can always have any off-site links open in a new window, thereby leaving your website visible. So that’s taken care of.
Let’s take a different approach to gain inbound links other than the apparent asking for links to your site. Instead, let’s discuss how we can create networking opportunities that enhance your chances of getting inbound links to your site.
Start by Linking Out
Adding links off your site helps to qualify a point or add relevancy. Say, for example, you are talking about some stats or surveys. Linking to the stats or surveys you reference adds legitimacy to your content. (Be sure that the sites you are linking to are quality and authoritative resources.)
You linked out because you found that information of value, which backed up what you are writing about in your post. You just basically gave a “Kudos!” to that other article by linking to it. And you’ve brought that information to your readers.
That’s the power of inbound links and why they are the Holy Grail of gaining more favor with Google. The theory goes that if your site and content are that good, other sites can’t help but be compelled to link to you when mentioning you on their site.
The fact they are so challenging to acquire makes them valuable to rankings. But for me, challenging is an understatement. Most website owners just are not linking out like they used to.
That’s where guest posting became a thing. More on that later…
How do you garner inbound links?
That’s the million-dollar question. For something so difficult to achieve, what should you do — exactly? Here are some ideas on how to gain and attract more inbound links.
Creating Great Content
I talk about the type of content you must create to build trust, your brand, and rankings. I know — a broken record (because your content is truly at the core of your rankings). But you cannot rely on content alone.
Consistency is vital as that is the only way to build credibility over time. Post good stuff once a week to start. If anyone is going to link off their site, it will be to a regularly updated site that is paid attention to. Your site needs to reflect expertise, authority, and trust if you desire inbound links to your website.
Resource lists are the most linked types of posts. You’ve seen them yourself. “50 Ways to…” “15 of the Best…” “101 Tips for…” You get the idea.
I use lists primarily because lists are a great way to give tips in short snippets. Lists tend to be viewed as easy to read and easier to implement.
Do your homework, research, and write quality resource posts that fit your niche. Then, use this format to create helpful lists your site visitors can use — and link to. Do your best to take it up a notch from what is already available and “out there.”
Specific Quality Directories
If there are any industry-specific directories, add your link there. See if you can find out if the links are dofollow or nofollow. The latter, while possibly providing more exposure to your site to those who use the directory, generally means no SEO benefit with search engines. That’s okay; the exposure is still worth creating a listing.
But things are about to get trickier when it comes to NoFollow. NoFollow was primarily created as a way to fight comment spam and to flag affiliate links. Search engines know that linking can be abused, so things changed — again.
For crawling and indexing purposes, nofollow will become a hint as of March 1, 2020.Google’s Webmaster Blog
As things have evolved, Google added two new tags for these purposes in addition to nofollow.
Knowing which of the above are implemented can provide a window into the impact of links from their site to yours and visa-versa.
Comment on other blogs and forums. Remember that most are nofollow (or UGC), which means your participation is to gain exposure for yourself and your website, not to impact rankings.
Don’t be spammy. Join the conversation by helping or offering your opinion — let that speak about you. If folks are impressed or curious, they’ll follow the link in your profile to your site to learn more.
This approach will garner more exposure for your site, leading to someone interested in your content and maybe linking to you. Commenting is a solid strategy for building awareness and networking opportunities. Potential partners could read your post and reach out.
Focus on Experts
Are there experts in your field or niche that your site visitors want to know more about? Consider doing profiles or reviews of their sites, books, products, or blogs.
Then, email them and let them know you wrote about them and include the link. They may link to your kind words about them from their site to yours. Of course, only do this with sincerity.
Guest Blogging is an option. How it works is that you write a post for another site that includes a link to yours — dofollow, of course. Sadly, I believe guest blogging has imploded — all for inbound links.
I get several weekly offers for guest posts from marketing companies for their clients through each of my sites. They want to post on one of my websites with links to their clients for the inbound link.
They inquire with compliments and ego-stroking just to get an article posted on your website. I’m not saying this isn’t a practical option — but only when done correctly.
Accepting guest posts takes extreme discretion. Offering guest posts requires strong writing and persuasion skills.
Guest post content is specific, unique, and valuable to the website on which it will be posted vs. just gaining a link for the guest author. When done correctly, it is well-crafted content that accomplishes both.
Linking Out to Prospective Partners
Most website owners track their inbound links. I know that I do so every quarter. For more, check out my article about Inbound Referal Links.
When website owners see that you have linked to them, they will probably visit your site and reach out. When you link to other websites, drop a note through their contact to let them know you linked to them and would be open to encouraging future collaborations.
You show your trust and value in their content by linking to prospective partners or websites where there could be synergy. And they may return the favor.
Watch the News
If something happens “in the News” that you can write about that fits your site’s pervue, jump on that. Search engines prioritize freshness when it comes to issues in the news.
Be one of the first to write an in-depth, informative, or opinionated post, and you can increase your rankings and traffic for that post. Watch your website stats to see if you get some traction or inbound links.
Comprehensive Positive Reviews
Onliners seek out reviews that they can trust. So, it makes sense that writing detailed reviews that are genuine and that you are enthusiastic about can not only inform but also encourage inbound links from those you review.
Write reviews about your clients, products you love, or services you use. Many times, those folks will proudly link to your website from theirs. The key is to write comprehensive, detailed reviews you believe in. You want to tick all the boxes of concern that review seekers are looking for.
Doesn’t Hurt to Ask
Poke around other authority sites. If you see a resource article or post that could benefit by linking to an article or resource on your site, ask.
Ensure your email details the benefit to them to link to your post. Then, thank them for their time.
If you don’t hear back, at least you’ve made them aware of your website. Refrain from ongoing follow-ups if you don’t hear back. The last thing you want to do is become annoying.
Track Your Brand
You can see when you are mentioned on other sites and platforms by tracking your name, company, product, or service names. Once discovered, you can then take that opportunity to ask if they wouldn’t mind linking to your website or collaborating.
You can start with Google Alerts, which is free. Several other paid services out there, too, can help you track any mentions.
Taking Advantage of the Links You Get
Now, you have some ideas to try and encourage inbound links. Yes, they are now more challenging to get than ever. But that’s why they are golden; you should take advantage of every single one you receive.
When you discover an unexpected link coming into your site? That’s called a networking opportunity you would be remiss not to take advantage of.
How do you discover inbound links?
There are many sites and tools to help you discover any inbound links. Here are a few to get you started:
When I have time to play with statistics and discover a website that found enough value in any of my sites to link to me, I always stop by their website and thank them. If the mention and link are in a blog post, I’ll contribute to the conversation in the comments and again thank them for their support.
This little effort on your part can be the beginning of some great partnerships. You can then take the conversation further, get to know each other, and how you may be able to work together for your mutual benefit.
Inbound Links are Worth the Effort
Search engines put relevancy on one-way inbound links. It’s a complicated process with many variables that determine the value of each inbound link.
I bet you will be surprised at the results if you put all the strategies within this post to work consistently. One thing is clear about succeeding online — it takes action to create action — rinse and repeat.
At your service,