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The Secret to Building More Inbound Links

So you want to build more inbound links to your website. But how do you do that? Yes, you can publish articles, distribute press releases, post to social media sites, bookmark your content on social bookmarking sites, guest blog, and more. But how do you get other website owners to mention you, write about you, and link to your in their content … without you asking them to?

The secret is to give first and always support others. Before you can even begin to expect others to link to you and write about or mention you, YOU need to give mentions, links, and shout outs to others. If you’re reading this post, you’re probably a little more savvy than most (kudos to you!), and think this isn’t a big secret, but unfortunately, the web seems to be getting crowded with people who expect promotion just because they exist.

But it doesn’t work like that.

Instead of chasing internet fame, you need to instead focus on building relationships — and to build a relationship, you first need to be introduced or be noticed by the person you want to build the relationship with.

First, you need to write about people, business owners, bloggers, speakers, authors, or peers that have helped or inspired you in some way — give them a shout out or mention and a link to their website. Read their blog posts and engage with them, leave them meaningful comments and start some conversation with them on social media.

Your actions of giving first, and showing them that you’re paying attention will get you noticed and get you on their radar. Some of my most wonderful business relationships and even friendships have grown over time from a single blog comment or social media mention.

But how does this get you more inbound links? Here’s a breakdown of how it works:

Relationships —>> Radar —>> Referrals

  • First, you need to work on cultivating relationships. Identify influencers you follow, who inspire you, whom you learn from, and start engaging and interacting with them to get noticed and get on their radar. Link to them in your blog posts and send them some traffic.
  • Second, you need to create your own great content — compelling content that is share-worthy. You must consistently create quality, relevant, helpful, valuable content that demonstrates your expertise and positions you as an authority in your niche.
  • Third, you need to make it easy for others to discover your content. If no one knows your content exists, they can’t share it. It’s up to your to promote it, share it, and link to it … and to do so without crossing them spam line.

Here are some examples of how this could work for you:

EXAMPLE 1: You have recently published a new post on XYZ. You then discover an article by an influencer you have been building a relationship with on the same topic, but with a different perspective/approach. You read the article, leave a meaningful comment about your thoughts on their article and you share a link to your article on the same topic. If done with integrity and to enhance the conversation on the topic, sharing your article will add to the value of the influencers article and engagement — which will help you both. NOTE: Simply spamming the comments section of a blog post with your article link is never a good idea.

EXAMPLE 2: You use social media listening tools to find conversations on the topics you regularly blog about. You join in the conversations, meeting the others involved and sharing your opinions and expertise to help out and add value to the conversation. If the opportunity presents itself naturally, you can share a link to your blog post with the others in the conversation. This happens often on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn when one person posts a question, asks for help, or is looking for certain information. If you have a post that answers their questions or helps them solve their problem, share it! Just be careful of jumping in a conversation with blatant self-promotion before building any type of rapport.

EXAMPLE 3: Don’t be afraid to ask for some help! All the big guns work together to share and promote each others’ articles, product launches, and services, so why shouldn’t you reach out to your network too?! Don’t be afraid to reach out to some of your influential peers and ask for some help — for a share on Twitter, a mention of Facebook, a +1 on Google+, a link to your post, or even an opportunity to provide them a guest post for their blog. NOTE: For this strategy to work, you have to first build a reputation for creating great content — after all, no one will risk their own brand reputation to promote crappy content. Also, understand that this isn’t something you should do all the time. Save the ask for your best most epic posts.

Remember this about building inbound links. Always think about giving to others and supporting others first and foremost — without expecting anything in return. Everyone who blogs just wants to know someone is paying attention. Give them the gift of linking to their post, sharing their content, and mentioning them on social media with a positive shout out. Let them know that what they are doing matters and that someone is listening.

You’ll help brighten their day, build new relationships, and who knows what may come from your actions … growing a business, building a reputation and brand, and nurturing relationships is a marathon, not one single race. And, if you do it right, you’ll build an awesome tribe along the way.

What about you?

Do you have a relationship you value that started with one blog comment or social conversation? Have you found friends, peers, and supporters through giving first online? Or, have you had someone interrupt a conversation with icky self-promotion? We’d love to hear about it in the comments below.

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Comments & Feedback:Check out what others have to say about this post!

  1. Another wonderful article, Jennifer. Many thanks for all your wonderful tips and thoughts … I always enjoy your writing and share it wherever I can. I absolutely agree that building relationships is critical to business growth, and “getting on their radar” is one of my favourite phrases when working with my clients – I’ve even written a series of blog posts on the acronym I’ve created from the word RADAR – Recognition-Availability-Deliver-Appropriate-Refer. In the spirit of your Example 1, I hope it’s okay to include a link here to my first article on this. I’d welcome your comments if you have a moment to have a look. The first article is here: http://www.mirrorcoaching.co.uk/1/post/2013/02/effective-marketing-gets-you-on-their-radar.html

    • Colin — THANK YOU! I appreciate the shares and I’m happy to hear you agree! So many people think that just because they published something they are entitled to social shares … but it just doesn’t work that way! Thanks for haring your article too — I’ll check it out.

  2. Thanks for a valuable post! There is so much content available on the internet that is less than helpful, so it really is a service when we share valuable content and point people to reputable sources of information and insight.

    • Denise — Agreed! There is so much noise and clutter online … and so many blog posts saying something, but because they aren’t really clear, it’s hard to figure out what exactly that is, or understand what they are trying to teach us! I’m hoping that my posts can shed some light on the more complicated topics and make it easier to understand.

  3. I love this, and though I’ve made some blunders here and there, I think I’m on the right track. An added bonus to giving first and interacting in your field is staying current, which helps keep your content interesting, I think. I always learn so much from your posts, you make it relate-able (did I make that word up?). Thanks for your great work, and your voice. xAngela

    • Angela — EVERYONE has made some blunders here and there! I am so happy to hear you’ve found our posts helpful … that’s why we write them! Hopefully to make things a little easier for our readers. And yes, you’re on the right track! Interacting in your field and satying on top of the current conversations, and thought leadership is key.

  4. Sara

    This is the article all new bloggers should read before they develop the habit of link dropping. Relationships will always trump spamming.

    One time I was curious about this whole social connection thing. I tweeted a shoutout to any locals using my city hashtag asking what was on their hooks or needles? (crochet or knitting)

    One person replied and we have developed a little bit of a friendship online.

    That one little tweet started it all.

    • Sara — Thanks for stopping by! Nothing drives me more batty that some random person showing up out of nowhere and pasting their link into a comment form … and I see people do ti all the time on blogs! Do they really think that the blogger/site owner doesn’t know what they are doing? Goodness!

      I’m happy to hear you’ve found dome success connecting on Twitter! It’s by far my favorite platform :)

  5. Patrice

    Thank you for making these points. These staple principles of networking are so important and becoming so scarce that your article is important for those connecting virtually and in every other way!

  6. Jennifer, thanks for the reminder We can get so caught up in marketing strategies, and analytics, and the latest and greatest tactics, but really this is the foundation right here, what you’ve shared in a single post. People. Relationships. Connections.

    I often think about online business like one big ongoing virtual networking conference with a bunch of awesome people to mingle with everyday, to exchange ideas and inspiration. I love it. Really great post, thanks.

  7. Jill Place

    Jennifer
    This was incredibly helpful. And I just heard marketing guru Gary Vaynerchuck speak the other day and he said exactly the same thing. I’m totally in agreement with this and am bookmarking this page right now! As well as signing up for your newsletter. I’m hooked, my dear.

  8. Jennifer:

    Excellent points! After the birth of social media it still seems that people forgot the concept of building relationships. Instead they think it’s a contest and the object is to collect the largest number of followers. I love how you specifically detailed how that thinking isn’t beneficial because the answer is in getting to know your prospects, customers, strategic partners, and vendors.

    • Mary Beth — Ugh! I hate that focus on numbers and trying to inflate them just to look more important! True social and online success has more to do with relationship building and real connections that most people realize! It’s the heart of success!

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