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Who are your top competitors?
It is important to seek out your top competitors, websites that are ranking on first page of search results for your keywords. Knowing who is at top, and who links to them is first and foremost part of link building.
Who links to them?
Returning to our link building is like life analogy, imagine you operate a linen laundry. As a linen laundry owner, you wouldn't want to network with people who are involved in high technology or manufacturing. You would want to network with people who are in hospitality or closely related industries. Restaurants, hotels or people who interact with them on a frequent basis. That is if we have a website that deals with latest widgets and widget reviews, we wouldn't want to waste time seeking links from automobile manufacturers (unless widgets are automobile related). We want links from other widget and widget related websites.
The easiest way to determine who is linking to your top competitors is to use link: command in your search engine of choice, Google link command seems to be broken, so use a search engine other then Google. For an example we will use a fictional company Widgetreviews, with URL of http://www.widgetreviews.com. Widgetreviews is at top of search engines for your search term “widget reviews”. Because of this, we want to see who links to Widgetreviews. Just enter “link: www.widgetreviews.com” (without quotation marks) into your favorite SE, other then Google of course.
Follow this procedure for top 5 or 6 sites that use your keywords. Compile a list competitor websites and their incoming links. We will use list as a source for our link building strategy.
Asking for a link
We now have a list of website pages that link to widgetreviews and can now see if we can get our site listed on page as well. You will need to visit pages listed. It is important that when you write an email to a webmaster that it is obvious you have visited site yourself and that it is not a machine generated email (spam). You will need to determine email address of person you need to send your request to, be sure to state why you deserve to be listed on their page, as well as a few compliments about their website, and your contact information. Be courteous and succinct most webmasters have little time to deal with their daily tasks. Most important, ask for link text that uses your keywords, not your company name. Using our widget example, you would ask for a link with text “widget reviews”, or in HTML Widget Reviews.
Generally, reciprocal links are not weighted as heavily as non reciprocal links. I usually only offer reciprocal link if I really want a link from high traffic site that demands a reciprocal link.
How many links do you need?
Your work at link building will never end. The good news is that as your site becomes an authority on your subject matter, websites will link to you on their own.
You have three options when it comes to link building. Hire someone, don't worry about it or Do It Yourself.
The first option is a good option, but, it can be very expensive. Professional link builders often charge $20 a link + cost of link (yes, websites sell links). As you can see, this can add up quickly. Building a hundred links through a professional link builder could easily cost $2,000!
The don't worry about it option doesn't cost a thing. But, don't expect any traffic. The World Wide Web is a collection of links. Each site pointing to other sites. Without links, your otherwise brilliant and insightful website will slowly die a horrible lonely death.
This article is written with DYI'er in mind. I wish you good luck in your link building adventures!
Copyright 2005. Brett Hart has founded several internet publications including SEONation.com - SEO tutorials, articles and reviews.