How to Get Good Links to Your Website

Unfortunately, getting links to your website usually takes either a lot of work or money.

The heart of the process of getting links to your website is finding relevant websites that should have a link to your site, and asking them to set up a link to your website. It's that simple.

If you own a website, you've probably gotten a lot of link requests from the webmasters of other websites. Now you know why.

A few years ago, there was a program called Zeus, that would automatically crawl the web and generate an email for you, asking for a link. This resulted in a lot of spam emails coming at webmasters from people running the Zeus program, asking for links from completely unrelated websites. I still receive, on a regular basis, this kind of spam from some automated program that asks me for a link from my websites to websites that have no relation whatever to my sites. It would be a complete waste of time to set up links from my site to these unrelated sites. It would do the recipient of the link no good either, since the sites are unrelated.

But I also receive emails containing link requests from websites that are relevant, and I will often put them up on my site in exchange for a link back to my site. Such "reciprocal links" between relevant websites are NOT discounted by Google, and are worth the time it takes to put them onto your website.

When doing "link building" we often use some software called Link Assistant. It goes out and finds those sites that are linking to one's competitors, checks the linking pages for Google PageRank, and gives you a list of all of the links to your competitors. We then take that list of links, visit the relevant websites, find the contact info, and send them an email asking for a link and offering a reciprocal link. It makes the most sense to ask for links only from relevant web pages that have PageRank - otherwise you're not improving your rankings at Google when and if you do get a link to your site.

While this sort of hunt for sites to link to your website can be very time consuming, it is also very rewarding in the traffic it can build for your website. It involves going on a hunt through related or similar or somehow connected websites, contacting the right person there and offering to set up reciprocal links. These free links, once established, are often the life-blood of a stable internet marketing campaign.

Because many of these sites will want reciprocal links back to their sites, you must be willing to place a link somewhere on your own website (usually a "links" page or "resources" page) in order to reciprocate these links. We do not recommend ever putting outbound links on your home page or in areas where the link will distract from the focus of your site.

This is best done a little bit every day by the person responsible for marketing the website, although a week spent at this full-time can get you some dramatic results in terms of traffic. Based on our experience (hundreds of hours doing this for clients), we figure it takes about an hour and a half of sending out emails to get ONE good link to a website. On average, only about 1 out of 120 emails you send out asking for a link will result in your getting a link to your website. (Sad but true.)

Make your Linking Efforts Worthwhile:

We only ever ask for links from websites that actually have Google PageRank. Many, many websites out there do not have any Google PageRank at all, either a zero or a "gray bar" instead of a number relating to PageRank shows up in the Google toolbar.

The very best way to get links is to roll up your sleeves, search the web for quality sites in topics that relate to the topic of your site (that are not your direct competitors), and use live communication to request links from related quality sites.

Ask your customers what they were looking for when they found you, and what their interests are. Keep that in mind when getting new links to your site.

By way of example, a link from the highly popular website, Search Engine Watch to our Search Engine Registration page doubled the traffic to our website overnight.

These links to your site help you in two ways:

  1. Links to your site can bring some traffic directly from those websites to yours.

  2. The search engines (particularly Google, which has a patent in this area) figure out the number of links from other relevant websites to your site and use that as an indicator of how popular your website is -- and the most popular websites are considered the most relevant for a given search. So the site with the most links from other relevant websites to it wins! It rises to the top of the search engine results in many search engines. Some search engines only count links from other popular sites -- so spend you time wisely here. One link from a popular site can count the same as a thousand links from other not-so-popular or disrelated websites.

For some terrific articles on linking, visit this site: Search Engine Watch. Do a search for "legitimate link building".

Here's a good article from Rachelle Money, Link Building Secrets from November 2008, containing Eric Ward's link building secrets.

Here's another good article: One-Way Web Links: 5 Strategies -- this six-year-old advice is still valid.

For a free, downloadable ebook (an Adobe pdf file) on why linking matters and how to set up your own effective linking strategy, go to this site, Linking Matters and download their free report. It's well worth the time it takes to read and understand linking as part of a strategy for getting people to your site and to raise your visibility in the search engines.

Paid Links:

We've had some success using Text Link Ads for some of our clients. These are paid ads that are put on hundreds of other websites, that link to your site using only text. Not banner ads. Text ads! Warning: Google hates camouflaged paid links and will penalize sites that pay for links from other sites; expect a smack-down from Google at some time in the future, when they figure out you are paying for links.

The same sort of paid text link ads are also available from Text Link Brokers and Link Adage.

Reciprocal Linking Schemes:

We don't recommend participating in any "reciprocal link exchange" sites like Link Partners or similar entities. Google has taken steps to devalue reciprocal links from unrelated websites, so make sure you only set up reciprocal links to sites that have something to do with the subject of your page. A link from Joe's Garage isn't going to help a stock brokerage website, and a link back to Joe's Garage from the stock brokerage website won't help Joe's website either.

Here are some link exchange resources (in alphabetical order) for those who want to go that route (we don't do any of these ourselves):

If you have feedback (negative or positive) about any of the above, please let us know about it.

Note: Some of these link resources have free options, some don't. All of them are either paid or reciprocal in some way. If you choose to go with one of these, take a look after a few weeks at who is newly linking to you for the quality of the links it gets you. And, keep checking for a few months whether it has helped you at all, either by sending in more traffic or improving your rank in the search engine results. Not all links are equal, so do take a good look at what you are getting for your membership.

Link Bait:

Link bait is the practice of making content worth linking to. It's difficult to do. Standard advertising copy about your products won't suffice as "link bait", unless your product is something very controversial or outrageous.

Blogs are a better medium for link bait than regular websites, because you can easily put up new content.

Top 10 lists, funny articles, illogical reasons why, satire, controversial pictures or outrageous viewpoints, even reviews of current movies or TV shows -- these are all link bait. One can have a lot of fun with this, but realize that the vast majority of time spent trying to make link bait will be wasted time.

Twitter is a good way to let people know that you've put up something worth linking to. Whenever I post to my blog or update a page on my website with new links or info or new resources, I will tweet about it with a link back to my site. Those links typically don't count for much because they go through a URL shortener, but if it goes viral and other people re-tweet your post because they liked what they saw on your site, then you can still get a lot of traffic just from that. I've seen this technique crash a server that wasn't prepared to handle the traffic it generated.

Article Marketing:

In recent years, an industry has grown up around "article marketing", which is the practice of writing articles about your industry, and putting links to your business in these articles, and publishing them online. This generates links to your website; one or two links in each article.

We recommend using SendArticles for article marketing. (Note: that's an affiliate link, so we make a small commission of you sign up with them. We recommended them for two years before they set up their affiliate system.) SendArticles will guide you through the process of writing the article, and help you send it out to about 150 different places online that will publish it, including the links back to your site.

We recommend this method of publishing articles and getting links back to your site within them. This tends to work best if you do it for several months. We've seen our clients rise in the rankings by doing this, so we know article marketing works, if done diligently and persistently over time.

Make it Easy to Link to your Site:

Make it easy for people to set up a link to your site. You can set up a page that has the code linking to your site, so they can paste it into their HTML code, and an image they can copy so that the link is easy to create. We have a page like that, called "LinkToUs"

We also strongly recommend setting up the "Add This" widget on your website. It's free and it works to get bookmarks and links from social bookmarking sites like Digg and Reddit.

We also recommend using the "Social Follow" button on your website, available from www.socialfollow.com. That makes it easy for people to follow you on Twitter and other social sites if they like what they see on your website or blog.

We try to practice what we preach -- you'll find both the "Social Follow" and "Add This" widgets on every page of our website.

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