Once you’ve found a potentially profitable niche, identified your keywords, and come up with quality content, you need to generate traffic. Wait, you say–isn’t that what all that agonizing over niches and keywords was for? Well, yes, but you need a little more to get your site to the top of Google. The hard truth is, only the first page matters. With every results page a potential customer needs to skim to get to your site, the less likely they’ll ever see your brilliant money making ideas. To move you up, the search engine spiders need to see that your site is worthwhile enough to garner consistent attention.
What you need, specifically, are backlinks–a link to your site from another. These are important to Google’s PageRank system, as they’re considered votes of confidence. If quality sites are backlinking to yours, your site must be quality as well. Remember, Google didn’t get to be today’s preeminent search engine by throwing out random, useless results to its users.
How can you acquire good backlinks (also known as inbound links)? There are dozens, if not hundreds, of methods out there, some reputable, some dicey, and some foolhardy. However, you’ll find that certain strategies are suggested repeatedly. Here’s a list of the ten most popular, along with a couple which you should avoid at all costs.
#1 Feature Good, Solid Content (aka Linkbaiting)
This is the way that Google prefers that you acquire inbound links. The idea is that, if you provide valuable information, presented in a unique and even entertaining format, webmasters of related sites will want to link to you. So keep providing excellent service; it will happen. In the meantime…
#2 Try Article Marketing
Submit relevant, quality content to large article repositories. These sites get lots of traffic, and allow you to post a photo and information about your own site in the bio section for readers who want more information. While the traffic may not be much, the backlink is valuable and a good place to start. As a side note: any time you have the opportunity to post a photo of yourself, do so. This makes you a “real person” to your site visitors, and adds to your credibility.
Some popular article directories are
#3 Guest Blogging
This is technique in which you write articles on other sites. While starting out, this may seem like a totally ridiculous idea – while you are floundering to continue adding good quality content to your site, and keep up with all that is required to build backlinks, why would you possibly provide free content to someone else? Well, because the article you provide is not entirely free. The recipient pays you back with a backlink to your site. If the site on which you publish has good authority, some of that authority passes on to you in the eyes of the search engines. This is by far one of the best, legitimate ways to get high-quality links to your site. Remember though that it may not be easy to get your article accepted for publication on big sites, but perseverance always pays. So keep trying. An added advantage of guest blogging is that you also make more personal connections–so important to business, even if it is conducted online.
This is the other side of the coin where you have authority bloggers write for your site. Well, when you put it that way, it does seem quite impossible. So how about an interview? You put together a list of questions that the targeted audience of your site might be interested in, and compile the answers into a nice little interview-article. This is a wonderful source of new, authoritative content. Very often (but not always) the person you are interviewing will mention the interview to their readers, providing you with some great traffic as well as an invaluable backlink.
#5 Social Media
Chances are you’re familiar with Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace, even if you’ve never used them yourself. If you haven’t, now’s the time. Also get acquainted with other sites like Digg, Stumbleupon, and Tumblr (a mobile app). Used well, these sites can help you build traffic very quickly. With the amount of traffic they bring in, there is a good chance someone will link to your article (provided of course, that they are of good quality). With Facebook, for example, you can start by adding people you know then quickly start receiving friend requests from people who enjoy your posts, or who have something in common with you. No one minds if you mention your business–in fact, you may want to create an account just for your money making ideas. Chances are good that most of your followers and friends will visit your site and share it with others. However, be careful not to cross the line into spam. You’ll shed followers and friends at an alarming pace, and your professional reputation will be damaged.
#6 Contests and Giveaways
These are particularly useful if you’re selling something, but can also work even if you’re doing PPC or affiliate marketing. Post new content, then have a contest for commenting, or “like”-ing you on facebook, or following you on twitter, or subscribing to your feed. Offer a nice prize and you will be surprised to see how many people will participate. Publicize your contest via social media. You should see an upsurge in traffic, forwarded links, and backlinks as the contest heats up.
#7 Participate in Forums
A forum is a place where like-minded people gather to share information, find/provide answers to questions and generally hangout. Scope out the forums that are most relevant to your niche. There are two ways to benefit from forums – (a) a forum signature which provides you a valuable backlink and (b) authority that you build up by constantly answering queries. This authority in turn translates to people checking out your site and possibly linking back to some of your content.
#8 Link Exchange
This is an age-old technique that does not work so well these days, but it is worth a shot, if you wish to try. When you researched your niche and wrote your content, you undoubtedly came upon some very good websites. Contact the webmasters of these sites and ask if they would be willing to link to your site. In return, you will need to link to theirs. Point out how this agreement will benefit their site or business, particularly if you offer something that they do not already provide (thus giving them a source of untapped traffic). These links should be relevant to your material and placed where they make sense. Be prepared to be rejected often; however, if your site is attractive, proofread, and professional, you’ll have some takers. Remember, those other sites are run by people just like you, so treat them with consideration. Avoid impersonal form letters. Don’t spam them with repeated requests. Never delete their link, in order to make your backlink “one way.” And finally, send a thank-you note. It never hurts to be nice.
As you look through blogs that are relevant to your niche, leave a comment with a link back to your site. Make sure that the comment is not spammy and offers real value to the original blog as well as the readers. Be aware though that not all links are created equal – some blogs set the comments as “nofollow” which tells the search engines not to crawl to your site though that link. This is very common on big blogs which get hit a lot by comment spam. Even if you do not receive a backlink from the site, if your comment is relevant and offers value, you will have some folks clink on your link and when they are at your site/blog, if they like what they see, they may link to it or help spread the article on social media.
#10 Tools and Other Site Innovations
Websites often follow a standard cookie-cutter format. Make yours stand out by offering video, useful tools (such as calculators), and “emotional” content (cartoons, anecdotes, etc.). Make sure these are relevant to your niche–mortgage calculators are great, but they have no place on a goldfish breeding site, for instance. Other webmasters love to link to this kind of content and site visitors enjoy sharing those links with their friends.
So there you have it: ten fairly simple ways to build backlinks, thereby increasing your site traffic and upping your Google page rank. Notice, however, that there are two link-building methods that weren’t mentioned, and for good reason.
- Paying for Links. This practice goes against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can get your site de-listed. ‘Nuff said.
- SEO Directories. These seem to have no value in helping your page rank, and can incur penalties.
In the niche marketing business, as in life, the best route to success comes in providing a quality product and forming solid relationships. To build links, and fully implement your money making ideas, you’ll need to do both.