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7 Ways to Acquire the Right Kinds of Links to Your Site

linksI’ve said it here many times – winning high rankings in search engines is not that hard for local businesses. There are some categories of business that are very competitive and certainly require the investment of a high caliber SEO firm, but do it yourself type can do well if they focus on two activities.

Creating content and acquiring the right kinds of links back to your site.

I specifically say the right kinds of links because there are still some folks out there promoting the easy way out, suggesting you buy hundreds of links, but there is no easy way out and this can even lead to getting your hand slapped or worse by the search engines.

Below are seven of the best ways to acquire those all important links.

Write a blog

Without question creating a blog and consistently writing keyword rich content is the number one SEO activity for the small business. (For any size business) This is no longer something to debate, blog content will improve your chances to compete in the search engines many times over and draw links from other blogs and sites that syndicate content.

Guest post on blogs

A variation to writing on your blog is to seek out other blogs and offer to write content that is useful and relevant to their audience. Make certain that you get to place a link back to your site in the body of the post and look for blogs that are well read. You might also look for other local blogs using a tool like Placeblogger.

Submit posts and article to directories

Article directories such as still present a great opportunity for acquiring links. By submitting articles to sites likeEzinearticles.com, Articlesbase.com, Suite101.com, Buzzle.com you can begin to acquire more links and traffic to your site. You might also look into services like HubShout that provide turn-key writing and submission of content.

Write social press releases

Consistently writing news releases for even seemingly minor announcements is a great way to build up some extra traffic and links, particularly if you use the social features of tools like PRWeb or Pitch Engine. As a bonus print your press releases off and send them via mail to your clients and network, you’ll be surprised how much bounce you get from this little contact tactic.

Leave lots of relevant comments

Leaving relevant comments on other blogs does a number of things for you. In some cases, not many though, you may actually benefit from a link to your site, but the real value is that you may get the attention of other readers and the owners of these blogs in ways that could prompt them to point to some of your content via a blog post. I hope it goes without saying this won’t work if your comments are basically spam. Use a service like BackType to track when comments related to your topic get hot.

Create profiles

There are hundreds of places you can create social profiles on the web and most allow you to place numerous links back to your site. You probably won’t get a ton of juice from the search engines for these because many are what are called “no follow” links, but some are not and many will build extra pages and links for the big picture. You should be claiming this real estate and filling it with content and brand assets as a rule. You can even use a service like Knowem that will create hundreds of profiles on lesser known networks.

Use social bookmarking

Social bookmark sites such as delicious, digg, reddit and StumbleUpon offer great ways to create valuable links and search engine juice. By bookmarking and tagging your blog posts for relevant keyword topics your content may be found by the millions of folks looking for topic related to your tags. This can often lead to tweets and posts pointing out your content.

By creating a systematic approach that allows you to focus on a couple of these items each and every week you can start to build hundreds of links to your web pages and virtually lock out the competition for your key terms.

Image credit: Ramberg Media Images

Listening in a Digital Age

ListeningListening to the wants and needs of your markets and customers has always been a good idea. Any good salesperson can tell you the benefits of listening – if you do it right the prospect will always reveal how to get the sale.

In today’s rapidly shifting business environment listening is one of the key competitive tactics, but the sheer volume of what’s being said makes it make more complicated exercise. The days of spending a little time down at the barber shop to measure the pulse of the market are long pasted.

Today’s marketing must also employ a powerful set of digital ears to monitor and engage in the millions of conversations going on simultaneously in every corner of town and every corner of the planet.

By setting up filtering, aggregating and alert technology or services you can gain access to real-time conversations about:

  • Your customer’s ongoing experience
  • Any brand/product/CEO mentions
  • Complaints about competing services
  • Inaccurate information about your organization
  • Thoughts and needs of journalists in your industry

The key is to create, either on your own or through a paid service, a dashboard that delivers the conversations surrounding topics of interest right to your inbox or browser as part of your measurement suite of analytics.

Your do it yourself toolbox should include:

  • Google alerts – Google Alerts allows you set-up customer searches for any phase and receive email or RSS alerts any time your phrase shows up in online media, blogs, web pages and news.
  • Search.twitter – For now, monitoring twitter is a separate stream (Google seems to be adding twitter conversations to SERPs) – using the advanced search function allows you set-up very specific searches, even including geographic details. These searches produce RSS feeds and can then be subscribed to.
  • tweetbeep.com – Similar to Google Alerts, but for twitter. Set-up search phrases and receive notification any time your phrases show up in twitter conversations.
  • Boardtracker.com – focuses on the most popular bulletin board conversations and can turn up responses that don’t show up anywhere else. Some industries still have very heavy bulletin board use.
  • Backtype.com – Backtype is a search engine of sorts that focuses on blog comments. Blog comments don’t often make it into the mainstream search results so this is a way to listen in on this set of content.
  • Social Mention – this is a mashup search engine of many of the formats of content such as audio and video – I’ve found it a very nice way to turn up some mentions that don’t occur anywhere else.

Many organizations may find that the ability to listen in digitally is so important or so time consuming that they need to employ a paid service to do it. In addition, these services offer countless ways to filter and analyze the data you collect in far greater ways then you might on your own. The greater level of analysis is a great way to spot trends, find opportunities and measure ROI for your online marketing efforts.

Some popular paid services include:

  • Radian6 – Robust set of analytics, relates data in some very cool ways
  • Trackur – advanced set of tools, well worth the cost
  • Buzzlogic – focuses on helping you find key influencers driving conversations.
  • Filtrbox – very easy to use, powerful and low cost

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My Social Media System


At a recent social media workshop a participant asked me to reveal my social media routine – how I track, converse, communicate and otherwise curate all my various social media activities. I paused to think about it for a while because I never really considered what I do a routine, but it occurred to me that, in fact, I do have a systematic approach to social media. (No surprise really, I’m a systems thinker and I just do it habitually – ask my wife, I have a system for making the bed and loading the dishwasher.)

I do think that participating fully in social media as a business and marketing strategy requires discipline, automation routines and a daily commitment. Now, you’ve got to balance that with the fact that much of your activity is about building long-term momentum and deeper networks and that doesn’t always make the cash register ring today. So, some of what I do won’t be right for all, but I thought I would share my systematic approach in the hopes this may reveal some tips that make your experience more fruitful. (I won’t take the space in this post to explain what all of the tools are that I mention, I’ve probably written about most, so try my search box above.)

    Twice-daily

  • Check twitter via Tweetdeck – preset searches for @ducttape, john jantsch, and duct tape marketing – respond as I see fit, follow some @replies that seem appropriate.
  • Scan mybloglog – I obsess over traffic, but this reveals trending links and stumble surges in real time so I can react if appropriate.
  • Respond to comments on my blog
    Daily

  • Write a blog post – RSS subs get it, twitter tools sends to twitter, Facebook gets it, FriendFeed updates
  • Scan twitter followers for relevant conversations to join
  • Scan Google Reader subscriptions to read and stimulate ideas
  • Share Google Reader favs – these publish to Facebook and you can subscribe
  • FleckTweet any blog pages from my subscriptions that I love – this goes to twitter
  • Bookmark any blog pages from my subscriptions that I love – delicious using Firefox plugin for right click posting – this goes to FriendFeed
  • Stumble any blog pages from my subscriptions that I love – this goes to Facebook and FriendFeed
  • Scan Google Alerts for my name, brand and products – in Google Reader as RSS feed – respond as appropriate
  • Add comments to blogs as appropriate – mostly response types – Google Reader and BackType
    Weekly (end)

  • Scan LinkedIn Questions from my network and respond when appropriate
  • Scan delicious, digg and mixx popular and select bookmarks for content ideas and trending topics
  • Consciously add comments to conversations I want to join – hot topic focused
  • Join one twitter hot trend conversation if appropriate – search.twitter.com shows these in real time
    Monthly

  • Check MrTweet for new twitter follow recommendations
  • Scan Amazon’s upcoming and new releases for authors to interview on podcast (the big names seem more accessible with a book release coming!)
  • Post a press release with social media links to PitchEngine or PRWeb (this changes depending on what’s going on, but at least monthly.)
  • Strategize on ways to repurpose and repackage any and all of this in ways that make it more accessible to another audience.

For some this just seems crazy – others will notice some obvious glaring holes in this system – the point though is the system approach. Set your system up and work it, day in and day out, whatever that means for you, and then you will start to understand the vital role that social media can come to play in your overall marketing strategy.

This is my way and one way only – please share your tips for managing the beast!

Get Deeper Inside the Head of Your Favorite Blogger

You want to really know what matters to that blogger you love following? Sure, hopefully it shows up in living color on their blog, but another great way to fill in the blanks is to read the comments they place on other blogs. Easily finding out where folks like Chris Brogan, Brian Clark, or Om Malik choose to hang out and post comments is a bit like getting invited to some exclusive blogging party.

Ok, that may be overstating it a bit for most folks, but the fact is following the blog comment conversations of infuencers in your industry as they are happening is yet another way to stay hyper-informed and even join some of these very conversations as they heat up. Just knowing what blogs they read, by virtue of the comment stream might be a nice bit of info.

BackType makes this tactic a pretty simple affair. Think of it as a kind of twitter for blog comments. You can read and follow the blog comment stream of just about anyone you can identify. You can even set-up and enhance your BackType account to make it easier and more fruitful for people to follow your comment stream. (Follow my BackType stream here)

Once you follow someone their comments will show up in a way that lets you comment on the comment, reply or even surf to the original blog post to add your two cents. This is just another way to simplify the process of participating in social media.

In addition, you can set-up alerts and get email daily messages when any term you want to follow, shows up in someone’s comments. This is another way to up the ante in your social media customer service program.