Regardless whether you own a company website or a personal blog, links that point to your website from another website are an important ranking factor in the search engines.
If your company website receives more quality links, the higher Google could rank you in the search engines, bearing in mind that other factors will also need to be taken into consideration for a high ranking. However, a company website may be boring and it is often difficult to gain quality links from other websites.
It is even more so difficult for websites that are targeting a local area, as they may not have good quality content and if the products and services aren’t anything extraordinary, hardly any website will link to it. It is however possible to help out by creating linkable content, known as link bait.
Link baiting simply means the creation of really good articles or content that other websites will want to link to. This means the articles should really be or have a character reference for your industry. This can either be large comprehensive lists on a topic, from a ‘How To’ article, to something that is brand new. If you succeed by making other webmasters aware of your link bait content, then you have a lot chances to gain good backlinks. Infographics are very popular link bait if done well.
Remember though, even if you don’t have the most amazing article, good content in general is always the best way to gain more traffic to your website.
If you are trying to get ahead of your competitors, it is important to check where they are getting their backlinks from. In Google, search for the keyword you want to rank for (if you are local, you will want to add the location as well) and check the competitors.
In the URL, type in “site:www.competitor.co.uk” – which will list all the websites that are linking to your competitor. Another easier way of checking the backlinks of your competitor is to use the Open Site Explorer tool by SEOmoz. Make a list of those websites, where you could potentially gain a link to your own website, bearing in mind it has to be relevant to your industry.
Sometimes you will find your competitor has a high quality backlink, which could indicate a paid link. Many big quality websites offer short text links for money. Although not the best way to gain links, buying links is something that happens all the time. There are many websites that offer a link buying services, where they buy the links you want for you. Be cautious though as Google could penalize websites that have paid links.
Link exchange is quite popular, and works on the principal of “I’ll link to you if you link to me”. However for a commercial website this may not be as ideal as you really want to gain as many one way links as possible. Google won’t penalize you for reciprocal links, but may not give them as much value, so try to keep reciprocal links to a minimum. The best solution is to exchange links over many corners, as these are more difficult to trace back, e.g. Website A links to Website B, Website B links to Website C and website C links to Website A.
Again, it is important that a topical affinity among the linked sites exist, otherwise Google would classify these links as not important anyway.
Simply ask friendly
If you come across websites that have a topical affinity to your website, send a friendly email to the webmaster, introducing yourself and asking for a link. If you website seems interesting enough and is relevant they more likely than not will link to you.
After all, it doesn’t cost anything to ask!
There are plenty more ways to gain backlinks but most importantly you must continue to look for link opportunities and work for them. As in any marketing endeavour it is a permanent fixture in SEO.