We absolutely love turning a new website over to a client.  After all of the planning, strategizing, copywriting, and design, it all comes together in a visually appealing and compelling representation of their brand.  But even though we take great strides to create the content with strategic keyword phrases so a website is more likely to be listed high in search engine rankings, there are other critical factors for ensuring a site is consistently ranked high. 

One factor that will determine whether your site is listed on page 1 or page 12,435 is inbound link popularity.  An inbound link is a connection from another web page to yours.  For example, if your website is listed on a Chamber of Commerce website, odds are it includes a live link back to your company’s site.  Any time a link to your website is posted anywhere on the Internet, and people are able to click and jump to your website, you have an inbound link.

So, in order to be ranked high by the search engines you’ll need to work to increase the number of inbound links to your site.   But here’s a word of caution.   You don’t just want any links coming back into your site.  You want links that are relevant to your business, your product or service mix, etc.  You need links that are from trusted domains, authorities in your industry, and popular web sites.  Avoid schemes promising thousands of links.  It’s quality that counts.

It is estimated that link popularity carries as much as 66% of the weighting of the Google search algorithm. So how do you build inbound links?

  • Submit your website to free, high trust search engines and directories such as GoogleYahooBingyellow pagesMerchant Circle, and industry-specific directories.  How do you find these directories?  Here are two great ways that we use.  Look at the inbound links for the dominant company in your industry.  Odds are they are listed in a multitude of online directories.  So why reinvent the wheel?  You can also do a search for directories associated with your particular industry. 
  • Get listed with any associations in which you are a member (for example your Chamber of Commerce, industry associations or local affiliations).
  • People love saving money, right?  Think about a coupon or “freebie” that you could offer to potential customers and then list your business on as many free coupon sites as you can find.
  • Offer to share links with all of your business partners and customers.
  • You may already have a newsletter that you send out to customers.  Repurpose your content by creating an article that can be submitted to article directories such as ezinearticles or goarticles.
  • Post any existing content on appropriate social media content sites such as slide presentation on slideshare and videos on youtube.
  • Create a press release and share it on local and industry news sites.
  • Publish existing content or create fresh new content that you can offer as a free download such as white papers, studies, lists, tips, etc.
  • Leverage social media by commenting on articles and engaging in discussion groups. When appropriate, create accounts on social media platforms such as Twitter and facebook and post comments and content consistently.  Include links in your posts back to your website.
  • Write reviews for products and services on directories or stores such as Yelp!, Tripadvisor, and Amazon.
  • If time and resources allow, launch a blog for your business and post articles.  Invite others to write articles for publication on your blog as guest contributors.
  • If you don’t have a blog offer to be a guest writer for another blog that is relevant and important in your industry.  In the bio box at the end of the article include a link back to your site.

Lastly, once you have invested time in creating inbound links, be sure to periodically evaluate and measure the success of your efforts.  Most web hosting companies provide statistics, or use free tools such as Google Analytics or Yahoo’s Site Explorer to see the source and number of inbound links to your site.