I will preface this by saying that I am not anything close to being an expert in link building. As with most of my development projects, my budget is tight and I am experimenting with everything, so what I write might not be the best way to go about things, but it’s a learning experience. I know that link building is a great way to drive traffic to a website, and depending on the links, it can create trust and add SEO value to a website.
I receive at least one email per day requesting a link exchange for either my blog or my other websites. People seem to think that because they added a link to one of my sites, I should automatically add one back to theirs – regardless of who they are or what their site is about. Some emails are friendly and others seem to think I would be obliged to link back, which is certainly not the case. More often than not, the link requests are for obscure websites that aren’t even relevant to any of my sites, which is more annoying than anything.
With my geodomain names, I started building links by contacting local bloggers and websites that would benefit from having a link. With Burbank.com and Lowell.com, both sites had decent pagerank when I started (Lowell.com was PR4 after my first launch and Burbank.com had been a PR4 site when I bought it). I contacted people in the area I found via Google who had equal or lower page rank and introduced myself, introduced the site, and asked for a link exchange. I felt these bloggers were either getting a better deal, or it was completely fair, and I just wanted people to see the sites.
This worked well for most commercial sites, but it did not work for city-related websites, which have some of the most trust, but have policies of not permitting outbound links on their websites to commercial sites. However, there are work arounds – like providing specific content that they want or need to link to in order to get information out to the public. In fact, my geowebsites have links from .gov and city-owned websites – whether it was intentional or not. This is the reason why good, unique content is essential! Link building works best when a site links to you because you have the best information.
One of the neatest ways I have been link building (in my opinion) is on huge websites that encourage article sharing and networking. For example, NBC Studios and Warner Bros are both located in Burbank. On the Tonight Show website (on NBC.com), and on the Ellen DeGeneres Show website, there are huge social networks, which include blogs, forums, and article postings. I signed up for accounts as Burbank.com, and I have been able (and encouraged) to post articles – which include links – on the sites.
On NBC, I posted 2 articles, which drove somewhere in the ballpark of 2,000 visits in less than a month. On the Ellen community website, I posted a couple of articles in the past 2 days. The links in the articles are not “no follow” from what I can see, but I don’t know if it will help with my PR. Whether it does or not doesn’t matter as much as the exposure my sites are getting. The posts are geared towards travel in Burbank, and if people book hotels through the site or find restaurant coupons on the site, it ultimately helps build the brand.
Other places where I’ve posted links might not help with PR and SEO, but they do bring traffic. I have accounts for all of my fully developed websites on Twitter, and I post articles there. I also have a ShareThis button on my articles, allowing people to send links to others. Additionally, I have links on Wikipedia, which I added by signing up for an account. I know Wikipedia won’t help with the PR, but the links bring traffic.
With my blog, I have never really done any link building. I can’t recall ever asking someone to add my blog to their blogroll, and I remember how excited I was when Frank Schilling added a link to my blog. I want to provide good content that people wanted to link to, and I thought it would be tacky to ask so I never did. The only link I think I ever applied for/asked for was the DMOZ link in the domain section. Maybe this is detrimental to the SEO of my blog, but I do have a large amount of incoming links.
This information doesn’t really help anyone, but it’s my opinion on the fine line between looking tacky and trying to get some link exchanges.
With link building as with many other aspects of development, I think good content is essential. Whether you request a link or not, others will agree to link to you if they think you are going to provide their traffic with good information.