Perhaps, any webmaster or SEO or a search engine marketer is always busy looking for ways to get links. If not, they are just looking for places to get links. So what's the most efficient to get links?
What is natural link building?
The most powerful links are natural links, so it should be wise to focus on building links naturally.
A natural link is a link someone pointed at your site/page from his site on his own will. Such links are generally created, when the person liked what you have to offer on your site and wanted to share it with his site visitors. Sometimes, of course, linking happens, when someone doesn't like you, but that's another story.
So, natural link building is developing your site in such a way that people start linking to you on their own will, because they have liked your website and want to show it to even more people. How do you do that?
Build a valuable website
The main and sometimes the only reason people link to you is because they liked what you have on your website (an article, a post, a tool, an audio, a video, etc). So in order to get links, you need to create something valuable for your site visitors. Though I generally advise to create quality content, it is not always text that you need to create.
For example, you could create:
- a how to guide on your topic
- an easy to scan manual on your product/service
- a comparison of related products in your industry
- a directory for the related products (competition and complimentary ones)
- a forum for your customers, experts and other interested people
- a blog, where you share your thoughts about your industry
- an online tool, related to your product (real estate cost calculator, online translation tool, etc)
- an audio (a podcast) with your thoughts on the industry or a single aspect of it
- a video with you showing how to use your product most efficiently
- user contributed videos with them using your product
The list can go on forever. What you need to create is something absolutely useful and valuable for your people, which they'll be willing to share.
Help the ideas spread
Creating something useful is only one step in the right direction. You need to help the idea spread:
- offer an easy way for people to share your content (e-mail, social bookmarks, etc)
- communicate with the people - build relations with customers, experts, related blogs, forums, etc
- offer an incentive to share (count the number of referrals and show that in the forum profile, allow an active forum member to have more active links in the signature, for example)
Having a community to spread your idea is one of the factors that influences the efficiency of your content ideas spread. You can:
- post on your industry forums regularly and occassionally show the best topics of yours
- have loyal blog readers
- have your own forum and post interesting stuff once in a while
- frequent other blogs and know more people, so you'd get more people, who know you
- cooperate with other experts in your industry
In short, you need to build a circle of people, who you'd like to cooperate, partner and network with, and who'd like your content and spread the information about it (the URL) via their own social networks
Why creating content first?
You see, the main reason people link to you is that they like your website. If you try to get links to an empty brochure website, you'll fail, because no one will want to show that to their visitors.
When you have something on your website, it is only a matter of time people will start linking to you on their own will and it is easier to partner with others, as you'll be able to offer your loyal audience (who visits your site) in exchange for cooperation (an article, some expert advice, forum moderation, a guest post, etc).
In fact, you can write articles specifically for your industry magazines and get published. Mostly, you'll get links from them too, but most importantly, you'll be getting recognition and trust in the industry, among the experts and the potential customers.
Natural link building isn't a short term approach. It requires great effort, determination and a deep knowledge of your industry to be able to create valuable content, communicate with your customers and other experts in your field. You not only need to build great site content, but also a great community of regular visitors to become a part of the industry.
Will this get you the links? Most likely, yes. But the most precious thing this approach will bring you is the recognition in the field, word of mouth referrals, loyal followers and customers. Traffic and links is just a small bonus for the efforts.