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Welcome to part five in this ten part SEO series. The ten parts of the SEO process we will be covering are:

  1. Keyword Research & Selection
  2. Competitor Analysis
  3. Site Structure
  4. Content Optimization
  5. Link Building
  6. Social Media
  7. PPC
  8. Statistics Analysis
  9. Conversion Optimization
  10. Keeping It Up

Note: Part five is a reprint of a Semmy winning article written by Debra Mastaler on link building. It is of course reprinter with permission an Debra will be the special guest on the accompanying Webmaster Radio show. But without furter ado - let's get to it

Help! I'm New, I Need Links, What Can I Do?

I took a telephone call last week from a woman who was looking to hire a link builder for a new site in a very competitive niche. I'm under contract to a business in the same industry so I passed but we had a nice chat before I sent her along with my standard list of link building referrals.

Several days went by and I heard from her again, this time in a state of panic. Seems everyone she contacted was unavailable, and she was convinced it was because her industry was a competitive one. Could I please give her an honest assessment of her website and tell her if that was indeed the case?

Well, no. I feel for her situation but in this particular field I'm under contract to a competitor and as a result, obligated to focus only on them. But I did refer her to a usability specialist and suggested her situation is probably more a result of link builders being taken rather than uninterested.

Competitive industries tend to be established industries so it stands to reason they have linking staffs in place and link builders tied up. If that's the case, what can new sites in a competitive niche do to attract links?

To begin, do all the "foundational" link building every other site starts out doing before branching into the more indepth promotional linking:

  • Apply to the Yahoo! directory (cost - moderate)

  • Submit to solid directories such as Joe Ant, GoGuides, BOTW, Ezilon, Rubberstamped and Massive Links. (cost -moderate)

  • Join a Chamber, your industry Association, and clubs. (cost - low to moderate)

  • Issue a press release announcing the new site (cost - low)

  • Buy a list of high-profile journalists and contact directly for one-on-one interviews (cost -moderate)

  • Backlink your competitors and those ranking ahead of you for link and advertising leads. (free)

  • Develop a "how to" video for your site and it's products. Submit to the video and HowTo sites (cost - low)

  • Buy ad space in offline publications annoucing your new site (cost -moderate to high)

  • Find an established business in a complementary industry to host a co-promotion or buy their mailing list to send out link incentives. (cost - low)

  • Find out who's podcasting in your niche and buy space, offer to be a guest or donate products to be given away in exchange for either of the above. Look for high visibility podcasts to advertise in, sweeten the deal with incentives. (cost - free to low)

  • Locate the prominent bloggers in your niche and start adding to the industry by commenting on their views. Don't be obnoxious and don't do it everyday. Join their community and they'll join yours. (cost - free)

  • Be sure to incorporate an incentive-to-link program in all your external correspondence such as autoresponders, confirmation emails, reminders etc. (cost free)

  • Create a corporate blog and invite bloggers, journalists, and your customers to contribute. Continually promote the site and it's writers and in turn, they'll support your site by linking to it. Don't forget to add an RSS feed as well. (cost free to low)

  • Be sure to add the blog to all the blog directories as well as the RSS feeds to RSS directories. (Cost - free)

I could go on but you get the picture. While most of these tactics have a small to moderate cost associated with them, others are free. Not only will you gain links but you'll also gain the much-needed influx of traffic competitive sites need to break into the race.

Other link building resourses:

Link building is a HUGE area. The articles that appears as the runners-up for the SEMMY are also well-worth the read. They are:

  • Andy Hagans’ Ultimate Guide to Linkbaiting and Social Media Marketing
    (link removed as the page no longer exists)

  • Revealing your Competitor’s FULL External Relevance Profile – One of my best kept secrets

About The Author

Based in Williamsburg Virginia, Debra Mastaler is President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing company focused on providing custom link building campaigns and link training since 2000.

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