Saturday, September 29, 2007

Help! I'm New, I Need Links, What Can I Do?

I took a telephone call last week from a woman who was looking to hire a link builder for a new site in a very competitive niche. I'm under contract to a business in the same industry so I passed but we had a nice chat before I sent her along with my standard list of link building referrals.

Several days went by and I heard from her again, this time in a state of panic. Seems everyone she contacted was unavailable, and she was convinced it was because her industry was a competitive one. Could I please give her an honest assessment of her website and tell her if that was indeed the case?

Competitive industries tend to be established industries so it stands to reason they have linking staffs in place and link builders tied up. If that's the case, what can new sites in a competitive niche do to attract links?

To begin, do all the "foundational" link building every other site starts out doing before branching into the more indepth promotional linking:

- Apply to the Yahoo! directory (cost - moderate)

- Submit to solid directories such as Joe Ant, GoGuides, BOTW, Ezilon, Rubberstamped and Massive Links. (cost -moderate)

- Join a Chamber, your industry Association, and clubs. (cost - low to moderate)

- Issue a press release announcing the new site (cost - low)

- Buy a list of high-profile journalists and contact directly for one-on-one interviews (cost -moderate)

- Backlink your competitors and those ranking ahead of you for link and advertising leads. (free)

- Develop a "how to" video for your site and it's products. Submit to the video and HowTo sites (cost - low)

- Buy ad space in offline publications annoucing your new site (cost -moderate to high)

- Find an established business in a complementary industry to host a co-promotion or buy their mailing list to send out link incentives. (cost - low)

- Find out who's podcasting in your niche and buy space, offer to be a guest or donate products to be given away in exchange for either of the above. Look for high visibility podcasts to advertise in, sweeten the deal with incentives. (cost - free to low)

- Locate the prominent bloggers in your niche and start adding to the industry by commenting on their views. Don't be obnoxious and don't do it everyday. Join their community and they'll join yours. (cost - free)

- Be sure to incorporate an incentive-to-link program in all your external correspondence such as autoresponders, confirmation emails, reminders etc. (cost free)

- Create a corporate blog and invite bloggers, journalists, and your customers to contribute. Continually promote the site and it's writers and in turn, they'll support your site by linking to it. Don't forget to add an RSS feed as well. (cost free to low)

- Be sure to add the blog to all the blog directories as well as the RSS feeds to RSS directories. (Cost - free)

I could go on but you get the picture. While most of these tactics have a small to moderate cost associated with them, others are free. Not only will you gain links but you'll also gain the much-needed influx of traffic competitive sites need to break into the race.

So what happened to the woman looking for a link builder? Well she's still looking. If you're available and like a challenge, holler. I'll send along her name ( added - she found someone!)


David Phillips said...

Great list! I would also add:

Join an online forum dedicated to SEO and read, Read, READ. If you aren't going to hire it out, then standby for an education--or so I have learned.

Textdesign webdesign Nijmegen said...

with EVERY piece of content you create you should think; is this valuable for my readers? If so, it is linkworthy and may attract links organically, if not, don't create it.

Debra Mastaler said...

While I agree that good content will attract links, I think it's unrealistic to only create content that is valuable for readers. This is business afterall, and to succeed online you need to create content that attracts spiders as well.

Okinawa said...

This is an exceptional list. I get tired of the same old "here's how to build links" posted by every newb on an seo forum, this one was enlightening though. I suppose there's just no way around it any building is a must.

Nathania Johnson said...

If the woman is reading this blog, contact me or Adam Schultz at We can provide the service you need.

Scott Salwolke said...

Debra, this is a very good list. I especially like your listing joining a chamber. If a business is looking to rank locally for a product or service, I think a chamber link is invaluable. First, because many people new to an area often look to a chamber site to learn about businesses in the community. And, just as importanly, I think Google gives more credence to a link from a Chamber site. It shows your business is probably legitimate.

Scott Hendison said...

This is really a great post, I just stumbled across it from an article on Sphinn and I've made it assigned reading for a few people already ;)

Gotta go now, (and call Nathania or Adam Adam ;)

Bree Nguyen said...

Very helpful post! We're a startup company just starting the process in house as we begin to move forward with some more help. This was definitely helpful to get us started! Thank you for the information.

Rob Ferrall said...

Thank you for sharing this list, this is definitely not the usual "link building how-to" list that you'll get on thousands of other sites.

WoW said...

Thanks for this infos.

Erik Schubach said...

Love your list.

Hand in hand with joining a Chamber and industry associations is getting listed with your Better Business Bureau and join their reliability program.

::Joey Alizio Jr:: said...

So tell me, how would you build links without paying to do so?
oh, Im sorry did I hint to the wrong word? Free.
Yes, you can build all of your own links without paying a dime.
This is a new concept called "Hard Work"
Just an Old School man with Old School Values.
Joey A.

Michael Y said...

Great list. Gave me additional ideas. We have also had some success with ezine article publishing as experts in our field.

Michael (and Judy)

website design nyc said...

nice post

Acne said...

Great information. It is hard to get links out there now!