We don't talk much about surveys when we discuss link building, probably because a lot of webmasters feel their keyword lists should suffice as research when they're trolling for links.
But really - your keyword lists don't tell you about people's loyalties or personal preferences which is what you need to know before engaging in the more promotional link building.
From my experience, people like to have packaged solutions, they want specific tactics and the sites to use them on. I think that's why directory submissions are so popular and the center of so many link discussions. People can wrap their heads around the whole process because it's a no-brainer.
Find directory, qualify, pay for submission, submit. Bam, one-way link in place. Easy peezy.
I like easy too but know from doing SEO that easy doesn't boost your site in the serps. That easy normally begets links that don't pass strong link popularity and that easy ends up making you work harder down the road.
Which sucks. That's where the research in the beginning really pays off. Talking to people, doing surveys, buying trend reports etc - all those things help you get in touch with your customer base and eventually in touch with your inner link self.
I say this all the time ad-nauseom but it's true: if you were doing business on Main Street you wouldn't just take out a yellow page advertisment and be done with it. You'd find out from:
- the Chamber of Commerce
- Better Business Bureau
- your industry association
- trend reports
- local newspapers
- SBA (Small Business Admin)
- resources like ConsumerWorld.com
- Federal Citizen Information Center (in Pueblo CO)
- SURVEYS YOU CONDUCT
Talk to the people who buy your stuff. Talk to friends and family and figure out what they're doing online. We live in a SEO centric world and don't search or think like the average consumer. Don't assume your customers think like you do, or search like you do because they DON'T.
Find out where your customers go and do everything you can to place ads in those locations. Keep talking to them, keep asking questions, keep in touch. You'll build exposure, gain trust and accrue links if you do.
photo found on AzureInspired