As you think about search engine optimization for your site, don’t overlook your inbound linking strategy. An inbound link is simply a hyperlink back to your site from a page of another web site. Search engine algorithms change frequently, but the one constant and reliable strategy in search engine optimization over the years is that sites with a variety of high quality backlinks trump their competition in the search engine results pages.
Why are these links to your site important? They can can…
Even though there are software packages on the market that help automate the linking process, use them sparingly, if at all. The only way to succeed in linking strategies is (aside from creating useful content that will encourage inbound links) by manually creating the links. That’s a hard fact to swallow, given how I like to automate as much of my marketing as I can.
Here are the 10 most important inbound links you must have to your site:
1. Directory links: Directories are indexes of online sites, typically organized by category. Links back to your site from directories like Yahoo Directory and DMOZ.org are very valuable. DMOZ.org is edited by human editors, and while it’s free, it may take awhile for your site to be listed. Getting listed in Yahoo’s Directory costs $299/year. (OnlineBizU.com members can get a list of the top 23 search engine friendly directories here.)
2. Press releases: If you’re writing press releases, make sure they are optimized for keywords that someone would use to find a business like yours and include links back to your site, as well. Once written, you can have your press release distributed through a service like PRWeb.com, which will create links from high traffic news sites back to your site.
3. Article directories. Writing and distributing articles through high traffic article directories, like EzineArticles.com, is a great way to get valuable inbound links from a high traffic site. And, with a good resource box at the end of your article, you can drive traffic to your site at the same time! (Onlinebizu.com members can get a list of the top 25 article directories here.)
4. Social bookmarking: Similar to web browser bookmarks, social bookmarking sites store individual pages (bookmarks) online and allows users to tag (with keywords), organize, search, and manage bookmarks of web resources as well as share them with others. If you bookmark your own content on these sites (like Digg.com, Reddit.com, Del.icio.us.com), you get a link from the service. And, if you produce content that your readers love and bookmark to their followers, the link becomes that much more valuable.
5. Blog comments: Use blog-specific search engines (like Google Blog Search) to find blog posts on which to comment. Make sure these are blogs read by your target market, not your colleagues. Brand yourself by always using the same name and remember to link back to your site. Always leave a comment that adds to the conversation that’s happening within the comments.
6. Social Media: Google is now indexing Twitter updates as well as social networking profiles from social networking sites. Add that to Web 2.0 hubsites like Scribd or HubPage and you’ve got the option of creating many, many inbound links in a very short period of time.
7. Blog/podcast syndication. Submitting the RSS feed of your blog and podcast to syndication services will give you a link back to your site. In some cases, each time you publish a new blog post, the post itself will also get a link. (OnlineBizU.com members can get a list of the top 50 blog syndication sites here.)
8. Video syndication. YouTube is one of the most visited sites online, and the number of sites that syndicate videos is growing each day. These sites often allow you to link to your site either in your video’s description or on your profile page, or both.
9. .EDU and .GOV links. Search engines place a great deal of credibility in government and education web sites, and the links carry a great deal of weight. However, it’s not easy to get links from either type of site.
10. Internal Links. If you have multiple web sites, or just a web site and a blog, don’t forget to link one site to the other. You can do this by linking one article to other related articles, or link to categories or archives of information.
Creating a sound inbound linking strategy is a key component of your search engine optimization efforts. Try a few of the strategies listed above and see how your traffic and rankings increase.
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