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Lets face it. Link building is drab work. It’s the kind of work most of us like to hand off to the”‘next guy.” Nevertheless, I firmly advocate its role in Search Engine Optimization. Google’s key indicator of the “good,” “better,” and “best” websites depends on number of backlinks, and where those links are coming from.

I assume you, the reader, have already figured this out. An SEO firm without offering link building strategies to its clients might as well pack up. A site with no links is like a telephone pole with no wires—useless. Consequently, instead of asking “if” link building should be done, online marketers are always asking “how” it will be done. What’s the best strategy?

A relative of mine created an informative website, after research, about “Good Security Questions.” That was over two years ago. The site lacked all the bells and whistles that come with newer web 3.0, but it was content-rich, and more importantly, there was a niche market available who needed the information the site provided.

He didn’t know much about Search Engine Optimization. He didn’t think much about keyword research or quality link building. I spoke to him recently about the results he’s had lately. His site now ranks #1 for “security questions.” He also told me some larger corporate websites such as American Express, Delta, Prudential, and ING Direct recently changed their security questions to match the list of questions he had written on his website. People are also beginning to link to his site and use his content at the cost of little to no SEO effort on his part.

His results reveal an old rule that’s been around ever since the first neanderthal man showed his prehistoric friends how to make fire. If you want people to listen to you, say something they want to hear. Thus, before you spend time and money developing an extensive link building strategy, first, provide that your content is “link-thirsty”—make it useful, interesting, timely, or outrageous (see some of Adam’s tips about Buzz Marketing)!

Even better, include “quality content” as the first priority on your link building plan. Indirectly, appropriating your content (appropriate: suitable or fitting for a particular purpose, person, occasion) is, by far, the most successful link building strategy on the planet. If done right, link building will work for you—no more mindless directory submissions. At a bonus, you’ll get traffic from relevant sources–which means higher conversion rates. Here are a few tips to appropriate your content (This stuff isn’t breaking news…just common sense principles of which many companies fail to apply):

  • Research and know your topic. This shouldn’t be difficult because you are already a guru of your industry.
  • Be informative and as detailed as possible. (Word of caution: Quantity is good as long as you know how to present it in a comfortable, readable manner. Use lists, headings, and varied amounts of italicizing and bolding. Remember, people like to learn, but they don’t like to read)
  • Link out to your sources. Google looks for links on your site as extra avenues to gather further information on your topic. Don’t be a dead end on the web.
  • Make lists and tables. People like to gather information fast. Tables make it easy to compare items. You could even provide an objective microsite comparing your product with your competitors’ products (this only works if you, honestly, have the best product/service on the market).
  • Tell stories and be narrative. This adds flavor to your content. Write with flamboyant, playful, or exciting language. Don’t always be so serious. People want to know there is a human being behind your content and your business.
  • Be original. Are you telling something people already know? If it’s already known, take a new twist or add your own opinion. (Don’t copy content from other sites! First, this is plagiarism and second, Google doesn’t like duplicate content).
  • Involve Users. Yes, you will need to jump on the Web 3.0 bandwagon. Provide means to comment, write reviews, vote on items, etc.
  • Check your spelling and grammar. Nothing is better at killing your credibility than poor writing. Hint: Get a professional editor to check your work.