Hopefully you know all the basic methods of what works and what doesn’t. Link farms are bad, reciprocal linking has lost it’s value, and worthless links from non relevant sites do you no good at all. If you haven’t heard all that before, go to Google and search for “link building 101” and read the Search Engine Watch article.
After you know the basics, you’ll realize that you’ll never gain any natural (the best kind) inbound links unless you have something of value to offer.
Can you help or educate your consumer? Do you have articles? Then you’d better be submitting them to the right directories, or you’re missing out. That’s still one of the best ways to get credible inbound links, but the articles have to be good too.
If not, then what else can you put on your website that will attract inbound links? What other “gimmick” or useful reason is there for someone to point their web visitors your way? What’s in it for them?
If you’re a local contractor, how about assembling a decent resource center for your potential clients? Where exactly should they file their building permits in your neighborhood and how? Where should they go to complain about another bad contractor?
Have you got local links, phone numbers and addresses for all of the city and state offices they could possibly need and tried to give them good customer service before you even know who they are?
Who has the best prices in town (or shortest waits, best service etc.) on lumber and other home supplies? Could you make a good list, getting customer and employee input, then promote it on Craig’s list and in forums? Would other local sites then mention and link to you?
If you’re a real estate or mortgage broker, then “mortgage calculators” and “easy home locators” have long been tools that any decent site should have, but what’s even more unique, or “niche” to your business?
Could you be a better resource center for new home owners in your neighborhood? Wouldn’t a downloadable change of address kit, a “moving your home” checklist, or city specific utility/service company info be convenient? Isn’t that something you’d tell your friend about if they were moving?
It just requires some extra thought…perhaps a survey of your existing customers would help? Look at competing websites and see what they’re doing. Don’t just steal their ideas… do something better! Vary or improve on another idea enough to make it your own. Brainstorm with friends, family, employees and customers.
What other tools can help your clients or customers more easily find what they’re looking for, care for your products, or otherwise ease their burden of the buying experience, or ownership afterwards?
Answering that question will continue to brand your domain as a useful resource of information, and not only attract new customers, but keep existing ones and gain referrals.
Do you have reviews of your products? Why not? Hasn’t anyone ever bought them before and have nice things to say? Would they send you an email and allow you to post it? You’ve probably heard the term “Web 2.0” lately. In a nutshell, (to me) that means “user generated content”.
Develop a way for your customers to post their own reviews, and then reward them with something for participation (of course you can approve everything before it goes live).
Allowing them to upload photos, or even videos of themselves using your product or service is a simple task. Everyone wants to be on the web, and this will certainly generate links to and from their friends and family. Many small businesses don’t need hundreds of links. In fact, I maintain that even just one link (from the “right” website) can really set things in motion for a domain to rise in rankings.
A bookkeeper might have developed their own helpful easy to read spread sheet for calculating their customer’s profit and loss for a business. Sometimes bookkeepers have to “dumb down” their reports for certain clients (or so I’ve heard).
A carpet or flooring store might make a square footage calculator that posts to a database, then exports to an Excel file for all the different rooms in someone’ home. How hard could that be? Heck, there could even be advertising or links in the final product..
A plumber might have tips about what type of drains go where in your home, and pictures of what fittings would go with which parts on faucets. Now there’ something I could have used recently!
To become a top search result for any subject, you are just to have to become a recognized authority on that subject. On some scale, that’s true even if you’re selling flea collars for penguins in Antarctica.
Be creative, give visitors something of actual value, and when they like it, you’ll get something in return…inbound links.
Even more important, you’re actually helping your visitors, which is exactly what the search engines want to do, and that’s exactly why they would choose to send people your way, instead of to your competition.