How to Build Links to Your Website

Link building is the process of getting other websites to link to your site. It is an important component of getting your website to rank well in search engines or search engine optimization.

Thanks to Julie Batten at ClickZ for compling a terrific tool kit that can be used to strategically build links to any website.

  • List of targeted keywords: Undertake research to determine which keywords you will be targeting with your link-building efforts. These keywords will ideally be used in the anchor text — the text contained within the hyperlink to your site — that you provide to your link partners, or when you are posting links on third-party Web sites/directories. Your target keyword list should consist of a handful of keywords you will be targeting for ranking (typically around three to five keyword phrases are ideal).
  • List of potential link partners: You should undertake research to identify and select potential link partners to approach for a link. Leverage your existing business network as well as conduct some manual searching in the search engines to identify link partners. Create a worksheet to capture your research and all pertinent information, including: 
    • Web site name
    • Web site URL
    • Subject area/topic
    • Page rank
    • Desired link page
    • Webmaster name and contact information
  • List of targeted directories: Directories such as DMOZ and Yahoo organize sites by thematic area, and are often used by search engines to build their indexes, making them a good target for SEO and link-building efforts. While you are undertaking your potential link partner research, develop a list of directories that you may want to submit your site to. You should create a worksheet to capture your research and all relevant information, including: 
    • Directory name
    • Web site URL
    • Subject area/topic
    • Contact information
    • Submission/pricing information
  • List of relevant blogs and forums: Posting content on blogs and forums related to your industry is a great way to increase inbound links and traffic to your Web site. When undertaking research on linking partners, you will want to note when you come across online discussion forums or blogs that are relevant to your Web site and where you might be able to add value. Note the following in your research: 
    • Blog/forum name
    • Web site URL
    • Subject area/topic
    • Particular section/forum that is most relevant
    • Contact information
  • List of press release sites: Online PR Web sites enable you to create and distribute online press releases quickly and easily, providing the potential to garner many links. Keep a list of reputable online PR Web sites, such as PRWeb and PR Leap for quick reference. From your spreadsheet, you may want to link directly to the submission page.
  • Link request letter template: Typically link requests are done formally through an e-mail link request letter. You will want to draft a sample link request letter in advance and have it handy when developing letters or e-mails to send to Webmasters in your link partner list. You can treat this as a template and customize it to the site in question. Your link request letter should ideally have the following elements: 
    • A personalized salutation
    • A compliment to the Webmaster on the caliber of their site and how you found it
    • A quick overview of your Web site and its value
    • A request for a link from the Web site
    • Provision of desired anchor text
    • A friendly sign-off (use your full name, title, and if possible, an e-mail address with the same domain as the site you are requesting a link on behalf of)
  • Link request tracking worksheet: You will want to keep track of which sites you have approached for a link and the uptake of those links. A link request tracking worksheet should have the following elements: 
    • URL of linking page
    • Requested landing page
    • Date requested
    • Contact e-mail or URL (if a Web form)
    • Link received? (Y/N)
    • Link employing anchor text? (Y/N)
    • Date link posted
    • Follow-up
  • Paid listings worksheet: Track expenditures for paid links or directory listings on a separate sheet in order to keep all details of financial transactions handy. We recommend capturing the following: 
    • Name and URL of linking site
    • Requested landing page
    • Start date of listing
    • Expiration date
    • Payment amount
    • Purchase order (PO) number
    • Invoice number
    • Renewal URL or contact
  • Link-building progress tracker: Because you will be spending a lot of time and effort building up your inbound links, track the impact those efforts are having. You should develop a spreadsheet that enables you to track progress over time. A simple format would be to outline each key performance indicator in spreadsheet rows, and input the data for each KPI (define) in subsequently dated columns (e.g., Month One, Month Two, Month Three…). Depending on how frequently you will be undertaking link building, you can update this as often as you want, but we would recommend updating it monthly. You will want to include the following metrics: 
    • Keyword rankings
    • Number of inbound links
    • Organic search traffic
    • Organic search conversions
  • For Julie’s complete post, see http://www.clickz.com/3635990