Building links to your website is easy, but building good quality incoming links is a different matter. Now that almost everyone with a small business has a presence online, almost every niche has thousands of websites vying for good search engine rankings. Links from directories, comments pages, and sites that accept link exchanges, are easy to get, but almost worthless for their intended purpose. High quality links from respected websites are a lot harder to obtain.
Good Links Indicate Trust
High quality incoming links are ones that appear on sites that are considered authoritative. Those sites don’t link to everybody that asks. If they link to you, that means they trust you. How can you earn that kind of trust?
One way is by getting out to industry events and networking with people. Build relationships with suppliers, prospective clients and respected experts in your industry. If you have the chance, serve as a speaker at conferences yourself, and build up a reputation as an expert.
Once people know who you are, and what you have to offer, they’re more likely to be willing to work with you.
Build Real Relationships
Don’t make the mistake of chasing links at the expense of everything else. If the people you’re talking to decide that you’re pushy, or just out for yourself, they aren’t likely to want to deal with you again. Focus on building a real relationship, and everything else will fall into place.
Finding the Right Events
Most industries have specialist events that are great places to go to engage in networking. In general, industry only events are much better than consumer events when it comes to meeting people. If a consumer event has a trade only day, it’s a good idea to pay extra for the trade pass so that you can get in while things are quiet. Consumer focused events are a lot of fun to attend, but they’re usually too crowded to offer you much chance to have a good conversation with people, and travelling a long way to do little more than swap business cards with people is a waste of money.
Meeting Decision Makers
Once you’ve found the right event, the next step is to talk to the right people. Many conferences offer appointment tools which will help you to find people to meet up with. Take advantage of these to book as many appointments as possible with people in companies that you would like to work with. Do your homework on those companies before the meetings, and have a quick pitch prepared. The links will come later – if you’re an approved supplier, a long-standing client offering a testimonial, or a media outlet providing coverage, you’re likely to get at least an “as seen on”, or “used by” link on the company’s website.
It’s a good idea to take lots of business cards with you. When you’re not busy with pre-booked appointments, walk around the business centre at the show and hand out business cards. Talk to as many people as possible, and remember to be respectful. The student volunteering as a steward today could be a big boss in a few years’ time.