The answer really depends on your niche, your skill levels, competitor activity and how much time you can commit to the process.
Another major deciding factor, of course, is how much money you have to spend on a campaign. Now I am not an advocate of buying links so when I mention money, this is more to do with finding the budget for PR activities, creating viral content, running competitions and doing market research for data-focused content, etc..
If you find yourself with very limited cash to commit to your link acquisition, or perhaps even none at all, then delve into the 40 tactics for free SEO link building techniques. I can pretty much guarantee that there will be something here that you can start doing right now.
Take a look at ‘Part One’ of our 20 Free SEO link building techniques for any business and stay tuned for ‘Part Two,’ of the list, which will be published tomorrow.
1. Claim your social media assets
Set up a company profile on the major social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus and YouTube (if you produce video). Make sure you complete at least basic information about your business such as ‘about us’ and URL details. Warning: Don’t copy and paste ‘about us’ content from your website, write unique content for each platform to avoid duplication issues. This goes for any content you put on 3rd party sites.
2. Fix broken links from external sources
Harvest broken link data that is resulting in 404 errors on your site using tools such as Google Webmaster Tools and LinkRearchTools ‘Link Juice Recovery’ tool. Either rebuild lost pages or re-direct to a most relevant existing page on your site. This can be a time consuming but effective way to recover lost links that not only impact site authority but usability too.
3. Fix internal broken links
Broken links within your site can impede the flow of Google PageRank trust plus stop a spider dead in its tracks, never mind irritating the site visitor who clicked a link and got a 404 page instead of the great information they were expecting. Use a tool like Screaming Frog to diagnose internal linking issues on your website.
4. Steal your competitor’s broken links
This is potentially another time-consuming job but it can be rewarding with some SEOs reporting a 25% success rate and what’s not to love about beating your competitors at their own game? Again I am showing love for LinkResearchTools ‘Link Juice Recovery,’ tool but instead of using this on your own site, turn the attention on your competitors. Formulate a list of 3rd party sites linking out to pages that 404, review the purpose of the link and where appropriate contact the site administrator and offer your URL as an alternative.
Bonus tip: This is an ideal opportunity to take a good look at the site in question, ask yourself why they linked to your competitor and not you. Can you offer your services and/or product inventory to the site? Can you make your CEO, etc. available to quote on market data? Would this site be a good guest posting prospect? Think about where you can add value to their business so you are in the forefront of their mind and not your competitor.
5. Create an ‘AboutUs.org’ Page
AboutUs.org is one of the oldest and most authoritative wikis on the web and it’s free to get a basic page for your business. If it’s good enough for the BBC then it’s good enough for your site. The kind people at AboutUs.org have even provided details of how to create a great page and also how you can apply for a dofollow link should you require one
6. Get a link from your suppliers
Do your business service providers have a ‘client page’? Are you listed? If you are and they have not linked to your site ask them to. If you are not listed offer to provide them with a testimonial about their service to put on their site. This is of value to their business and worthy of a link in return.
7. Have an FAQs page
If you are a business within a specific industry, having an ‘FAQs’ page will help you build links, as you are more likely to rank higher if you provide the information people are searching for all in one page. People will also link to an FAQs page over individual pages on one topic.
8. Review other products
Similar to above but focusing on specific products that you use for your business. You could review a supplier’s product on your own website, share on social media and wait for the reciprocal love or offer to collaborate on a trial that the manufacturer can post on their own site.
9. Encourage your customers to link to you
Reverse engineer points 6 and 7.
10. Ask your employees to link to you
Many companies are sitting on an untapped pot of gold in their own staff resource. Ask your employees (nicely) if they can link to your website from their own personal social media profiles and blogs with LinkedIn and Google Plus being the most valuable right now. Looking like a ‘real business’ will help your online authority and real business have staff right?
11. Ask to be included on resource lists and recommended partner pages.
Self-explanatory this one!
12. Participate in Q & A sites
People ask thousands of questions a day on all manner of subjects on Q & A sites like Yahoo Answers and Quora. Take advantage of this by reaching out to these people to share your valuable knowledge. This tactic requires skilful management in order not to look like a spammer and get yourself banned. You really need to be in giving rather than receiving mode with a focus on building brand authority and trust that will eventually lead to traffic and links. Check out what Phones 4u do with their Yahoo Answers profile to get some ideas.
13. Create great content
What constitutes great content really comes down to who your audience is. If you’ve not created ‘user personas’ yet then now may be the time. So assuming you know your target audience, quality should win out over quality over time. What you are looking to achieve is user engagement leading to extended time on site, brand advocacy, social shares and backlinks. Of course, a purchase would be nice too! Doing some backlink analysis on your competitors to see which of their content has the most links would be a great place to start.
14.Create some ego bait
Every industry has its leaders, rock stars and gurus. Even the most modest are likely to be flattered when added to a ‘10 most influential people in…..’ list. This can work not just for people lists but for top blogs, products, services and website lists. Stroke some egos and wait for the social shares and backlinks to roll in.
15. Make your content shareable
So you’ve crafted some great content for your site but how are people going to share it? Most smartphones have sharing tools built-in but for those that don’t or for users on desktop, make sure you add social sharing buttons to your site. There is a multitude of WordPress plugins and easily added scripts that make this job simple. AddThis is one free tool that not only allows the easy sharing of content but also gives great stats for you to dig into and analyse. Warning: Adding additional scripting to a web page can cause bloating and slow up load times so take this into account this when considering usage.
16. Guest post on other sites
Partnering with other websites for one-off or regular posts is a great way to get your brand in front of another site’s audience and can be a valuable tool in your link building armoury if used correctly. Think about who you want to put your content in front of and why. You will also need to consider why the third party site would want your content. Are you a leader in your field? Will an association with your business with your brand boost their business? Do you have valuable insight and data that they can’t get anywhere else?
17. Accept guest posts from third parties
So while you are thinking about the value you can add to a third party site, consider what they could do for you. There are many advantages gained in giving another brand the opportunity to speak to your audience. These can include a variety of free quality content plus traffic and social shares generated by the poster.
18. Share/Bookmark your own content
If you are producing great content on a regular basis, don’t just sit there and wait for other people to share it, take advantage of your own social profiles and share away. So this includes Facebook, Twitter, G+ etc., but you can also consider setting up profiles on sites like Stumbleupon and Reddit. Bookmarking your own content is slightly questionable but sits more grey than black hat.
19. Reciprocal links
Yes really! Identify potential link partners that are relevant to your niche. Focus on working with real businesses where swapping links will add value to a user, aid site authority for both parties and bring traffic. You don’t need to set up a links page to do this and blog rolling should probably be avoided, instead, think about linking from within content on blog articles or static pages or set up a partner page (see point 37).
20. Join local business groups
Participate in local business groups such as breakfast clubs in order to build relationships with local, none competing companies in appropriate niches. Support each other’s online efforts with activities such as sharing content and/or showing some social media love.
21. Set your company upon review sites
This is a similar tactic to point 1, claiming your social media profiles. Do some research to identify review sites targeted at your niche and/or geographic area. For example, Qype is a London orientated website that offers a variety of business listings (with a no-followed link out) starting from free.