Blogs are often touted as good for search engine optimization. The reality is, blogs are simply software tools and what you get out of them from a SEO perspective is in proportion to how well you know how to use them. Good keyword categorization and content are a start, but blogs are not much of a SEO asset unless they attract links.
The myth of “Build it and they will come”. Not many businesses that start blogs have the patience to create great content and wait for others to find that content all on their own as a linking strategy. Without clicking on a link or finding it on a search engine, how will others find your blog? Content is King but only if you promote it.
Links from relevant, credible sources balanced with on-page keyword optimization make it easier for search engines to find, index and sort blog posts in search results. If there’s an expectation for a company blog to rank well in search results, be sure to consider some of the following link building tactics:
1. Create content worth linking to. No matter how many tactics you find here and elsewhere, there simply is no substitute for creating content that others may find useful. Take the time to look at blog posts that already rank well in search results and notice their structure, quantity of words and word placement.
2. Conduct backlink analysis on competing web sites or blogs – find out who is linking to competitor sites that are not linking to yours. Ask sites linking to multiple competitors to link to yours as well. If another web site or blog is already linking to multiple competitors, there is a chance they’ll link to your blog as well.
3. Make useful comments on other blogs that don’t have rel=nofollow. Comments should always be useful, but if you become aware of a topically relevant blog that does not discourage search engine spiders from crawling links in comments, it’s work spending the extra time to provide helpful insights a links to resources that you’ve published on your own blog.
4. Encourage social bookmarks & news submissions of your content using services without rel=nofollow. Show links to those services like Folkd, Spurl or Feedmarker in the blog post template code so they are visible for blog readers to use. Some social bookmarking services will make a copy of what you bookmark or a static web page of the bookmark including a do follow link back to the source (your blog).
5. Get listed on other blogger’s blogrolls. It never hurts to ask another blog that you’re active with to see if they’d consider adding your blog to their blogroll or curated lists of blogs.
6. Guest write on other blogs and include a link to your blog in the bio. In the course of getting to know blogs that already rank well on the keyword phrases you’re targeting, you may notice that they often accept guest blog posts from others. Contact the blog owner and suggest a compelling post that would be first and foremost, valuable to their readers. If it makes sense editorially to link from within the guest post to your own blog, be sure to use relevant keywords as the link text.
7. Submit to blog & RSS directories. Many directory links have no follow links or are not visited by a large volume of people, but making sure your blog and RSS feed are included in niche categories and collections of blogs can be a positive signal to search engines as well as to long tail users. Many bloggers that aggregate large lists of topically specific blogs will cultivate blog directories as a easy way to find blogs on similar topics. If your blog isn’t on the niche list in those situations, you won’t be included.
8. Submit to regular web site directories like botw.org. While there are blog specific directories (BOTW has one of those as well) many don’t discern web sites from blogs. If a quality directory has a relevant category with other reputable web sites in it, then it makes sense for your blog to be among them as a useful information source.
9. Be sure to include your blog URL in profiles and bios on social media sites. While most social media sites that allow users to add links to their profiles add no follow to the links, there are many that do not. Public profile links on LinkedIn and YouTube channels for example, are good links. Rather than focus on registering with 300+ sites using Knowem, just make sure that of the social media profiles you do set up inlcude a link back to your blog.
10. Write testimonials for services and software that you use. They may publish with a link back to your blog. Testimonials must be well written, genuine and specific in order to be useful for the service/product owner. Get at the essence of what’s great about the product or service and even add something unique. If you’ve written a review of the product/service on your blog, that can also get you a link from their press page.
11. Job listings should always have a link back to your blog. Blogs can be useful recruiting tools that help candidates understand the culture of your company. When purchasing job listings on other web sites, add a link to your blog. The listings may expire, but may also introduce your blog to candidates that write their own blog and decide to write about a listing with a permanent link to the hiring company blog.
12. Event listings should always have a link back to your blog. Blogs can be effective tools for promoting events and if you are listing your event with 3rd party services, a link back to your blog post with more details will be useful to readers that want to know more. That link can also be useful to search engines.
13. Contributions to non-profits often have a donor page with a link. These links are now very rare but you should contribute anyway.
14. Article syndication can still result in a few good links. Include your blog URL in the article bio. Take some of your best tips oriented blog posts and re-write them for specific industry verticals or applications. Then submit them to article repositories. When others re-use those articles, the bio link back to your blog can be picked up by readers and search engines.
15. Distribute press releases via a wire service with a link to your blog included. Our client, PRWeb, is a pioneer in providing competitive SEO value with press release distribution. Many blogs and some news web sites will re-publish your press release exactly as it was distributed, including good links back to your blog. Journalists use News search to look up past press releases and research on stories, which presents an opportunity to be found and included.
16. Contribute Op Ed pieces to Mainstream Media web sites. Contribute a link to your blog of course. If you suggest content to another web site such as a letter to the editor, why not keyword optimize the title? Why not include a link back to your blog where you’ve written many more articles on the same topic?
17. When you get media coverage (or placements) in online publications, be sure to ask the journalist for a link to your blog. Again, it never hurts to ask. Many publications have a policy not to link out from stories. Many leave it up to the journalist or their editor. If you don’t ask, you will never get the link.
18. Develop social networks and share especially useful content from your blog where relevant. Be useful to others and they will useful to you by promoting your content and attracting links. Don’t be gratuitous when sharing links to your own content, but when you have something particularly special and valuable that’s highly relevant to a particular network, then by all means, share it with them. Some are bloggers as well and may link to it from their own blogs as well as pass the link along to others.
19. Linkbait. Create or aggregate disparate content that provides value and is not easily found elsewhere. Promote it to those that would be interested and in a position to distribute to the right audience. Again, create useful content, but be thoughtful about packaging it in a way that makes it unique and is easy to pass along. Look at other blog posts in your topical category that have “gone hot” on social news sites and understand their structure, format and tone. Leverage what has worked for others in your own content to be promoted.
20. Sponsor content on web sites or newsletters archived to the web that allow you to include a link. It may be a nofollow link, but it may not. Many newsletters sent via email are archived to the web or have landing pages on the web. Ask those newsletters if you can buy an ad or even contribute a short article. The article credits should include a link to your blog.
21. Hire bloggers to write content for you. They’ll often cross-post it to their own blog with a link back to yours. Of course, you should be considerate and simply mention that this is ok, don’t ask them or require them to do it.
22. Run a contest that may involve others deciding to link back to your blog. This can be tricky, but Marketing Pilgrim does a great job of this with their SEM Scholarship Contest. Readers write blog posts and the first cut is based on which posts get the most traffic and presumably, links among other criteria.
23. Offer a widget, when posted to others’ web sites, includes a link back to a credits page for the widget on your blog. TopRank’s Thomas McMahon created a RSS buttons tool and it’s use by other blogs has resulted in over 322,000 inbound links.
24. Review other blogs and offer a badge for those that get included. We’ve done this with BIGLIST and it has resulted in over 64,000 inbound links. Focus on quality and be consistent. Also offer a version of the badge that does not include a link for those that want to display the “blog flare” but don’t or can’t link to it. You should include your logo on the badge for improved brand awarness whether there’s a link or not.
25. Create an exceptionally useful tool. Others will link to it simply because it is useful. (See step 1) TopRank created a Social Bookmarking Tool several years ago and still has over 50,000 links as a result.
Bonus tip: When others link to you, THANK THEM! Building good will is one of the most underrated marketing skills online. Be genuine, thoughtful and courteous. Also be SMART and driven to get links where it makes sense.
What linking tactics for blogs have you found to be most effective? What challenges are you facing in attracting other sites to link to your blog?