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Four killer ways to build links

One major factor Google considers when ranking your website in search results is whether your company is discussed other places on the Internet.

According to SEO Director Boyd Norwood, “search engines look at what you say about yourself and what others say about you.”

“You need to do link building to better your rankings,” he said.

You’re missing opportunities to improve your search engine optimization if other websites are not linking to your site.

“Search engines crawl the Internet evaluating these links and where they go,” Norwood explained. “If you get lots of links, it’s assumed by the search engines that lots of people are talking about you.”

But building links is not easy, he stressed.

For your website to be regarded as credible by the search engines, your link portfolio must appear as natural as possible.

“What others say about you is link building. When they link to you, they are voting for you,” Norwood said.

You know you’ve done something right when the New York Times or TechCrunch links to your website. But how do you build easier-to-obtain links on lesser known websites, which may also greatly improve your SEO?

Norwood offered these four link-building tips:

1. Issue press releases
2. Write guest posts for other blogs and websites
3. Conduct giveaways on popular blogs
4. Comment on other blogs when relevant to your business or industry

Press releases must attract ‘real journalists’

A press release about a worthwhile topic at just the right time may generate loads of natural links. The release should contain links to your website, which the major search engines will recognize when newspapers and television stations publish the article online.

“They might even follow up and write about your business,” Norwood said.

But press releases that are too promotional often don’t get attention from influential bloggers and journalists.

“You need to write about newsworthy topics,” Norwood stressed.

There shouldn’t be more than one link per 100 words, and most press releases shouldn’t exceed 500 words.

So your press release appears on as many websites as possible, submit the article to a distributor like PRWeb.com. Generate more exposure by contacting local reporters and emailing news outlets in your area.

Become a guest writer

People will also link to your website when you write posts for other blogs. Begin by identifying the blogs relevant to your industry that accept content from guest writers.

Search Google for blogging opportunities by using the keyword phrases you would like to rank for and adding “guest writer,” “guest blogger” or “guest contributor” in quotation marks.

Links in guest posts often appear in author bios at the end, Norwood said.

These four websites accept guest posts:

1. http://www.healthcarecommunication.com/Main/SubmitNews.aspx
2. http://makezine.com/submissions.csp
3. http://www.businessblogshub.com/
4. http://contributor.yahoo.com/signup.html

“You want to get the word out about your business,” Norwood said. “So it makes sense to go to as many sites as possible and submit content to get those readers to click on a link and come back to your site.”


Hosting contests and giveaways online is another way to build links to your website.

With your target audience in mind, contact a blogger who publishes content that is popular in your industry.

“This is a great way to get links and also to find a targeted audience that would be interested in your products,” Norwood said.

People love free stuff. They will talk about your business if you create a contest and give something away.

Enter the discussion

When you have something to contribute to an online conversation, spread the word about your company by commenting on blog posts written by authors.

Before commenting, register with your name and email so the name on your comment provides a link to your website.

“It’s a way to steal readers from one blog to come to your blog,” Norwood said.

Your comments should be meaningful for the remarks to stand up over time.

Don’t get discouraged

Building natural links takes time.

Link building is hard work and sometimes valuable links are the most difficult to obtain. Several strategies are needed for your link portfolio to appear as natural as possible.

“I do a lot of link-building methods and all of them combined get me rankings,” Norwood said. “The most creative link builders are usually those who build the best links.”

HobbyTron: Some serious fun

HobbyTron warehouse

HobbyTron hasn’t always been the company it is today. In the beginning the business sold science experiments for kids.
“HobbyTron used to be Hobbytronics,” said Cody Sparks, marketing director for HobbyTron.

But a lot has changed. Visit the website today and you’ll find an impressive assortment of Airsoft guns, magic tricks and remote-controlled cars, airplanes and helicopters.

Though choppers account for “a good chunk of our sales,” Sparks said Airsoft guns are some of HobbyTron’s most popular items.

The fake guns, which closely resemble the real things, shoot lightweight plastic balls that are slightly larger than BBs. They are made to imitate Uzis, Ak-47s, rifles and pistols.

“You can almost get an exact replica of any type of gun,” Sparks explained. “It’s just a step down from a real BB gun or pellet gun.”

Airsoft guns have bright orange tips to distinguish them from real weapons. HobbyTron sells most of its guns to teenagers or people who are in their mid-20s. But sometimes members of the military and law enforcement buy the toys.

Most of the products are sold online, though the company recently opened its first retail store in Valencia, Calif. The shop focuses on Airsoft guns and the HobbyTron even sponsors Airsoft competitions.

“We’re really targeting a lot of Airsoft in the store because there are a lot of Airsoft playing fields in the area,” Sparks said.
Participants dress in military-like vests, helmets and knee pads, which HobbyTron also sells.

“Depending on the gun, you should have protective clothing,” Sparks said, adding that some Airsoft guns shoot about 800 feet per second.

For its younger customers HobbyTron stocks complete lines of remote-controlled cars, planes, helicopters and boats. The vehicles are mostly electric, but there are gasoline-powered cars called “nitro” that can travel 50 mph.

“A lot of people take the nitro cars to races and events,” Sparks said. “Race tracks are a little rare, but you can usually find one in your area.”
Prices for HobbyTron’s remote-controlled vehicles start at about $20.

“For any price you can find something,” Sparks said.

Meanwhile, relating to its younger demographic is easy for HobbyTron because nobody on the company’s management team is older than 30.

“We never planned to be young and hip, it just kind of happened that way,” said Sparks, who is 27 years old.

HobbyTron has about 60 employees and is based in Santa Clarita, Calif.

Sparks encourages everyone to visit the company’s website where each month there is a contest and an item is given away for free.

“It’s been Airsoft guns, helicopters, cars,” he said. “We do that to create buzz.”

It seems to work, at least in social media where HobbyTron has more than 32,500 Facebook fans. Because most of its business is conducted via HobbyTron’s e-commerce website, the company approached SEO.com a few months ago hoping to improve its rankings in search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing.

“We talked to five different companies and SEO.com was the only one that looked at the whole picture,” Sparks said.

Most of HobbyTron’s past search engine optimization was conducted in house.

“The biggest thing is time … SEO.com had a game plan,” Sparks said. “You need to keep the ball rolling constantly.”

He explained that HobbyTron’s rankings have already improved for a slew of long-tail and competitive keywords.

If you’re trying to rank on the web for local keywords, having different addresses and phone numbers tied to your business is a huge problem for your search engine optimization. But if you only focus on your Google Places page and ignore everything else, you often leave incorrect information on many online business profiles.

Tips and Tricks: Your NAP must be in order

Follow these tips to make sure your company’s name, address and phone number (NAP) is consistent across the web:

Begin with your website — Have a dedicated page on your website for each of your locations. On those pages display your official name, address and telephone number. Decide how the information will be formatted and make it the same across the web.

Once the information is standardized, mark it up with the proper schema. Schemas are html tags that webmasters use to make their pages recognizable to search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. A schema for local businesses helps identify your website as a local business in the search engines. This schema is available at http://schema.org/LocalBusiness.

Next focus on maps pages – After your individual location pages are set up on your website, make sure to create, optimize and officially claim each of your major map pages. Google, Yahoo and Bing are the big three. When setting up your maps pages use the exact same address and phone number that is listed on your website so the search engines don’t get confused.

Now check with major data providers – Several online data providers have information about your business, which they share with smaller websites. These companies include Infogroup, Acxiom and Localeze. If your business information is wrong with just one of these data providers, your data is most likely wrong in many places on the Internet. Because this confuses the search engines, it is critical that you fix your data with the major providers so the correct information is pushed to other sites.

If you’re trying to rank on the web for local keywords, having different addresses and phone numbers tied to your business is a huge problem for your search engine optimization. But if you only focus on your Google Places page and ignore everything else, you often leave incorrect information on many online business profiles.

Industry events

SLC-SEM: Salt Lake City; Oct. 19

Social Media World Forum: New York City; Nov. 1-2

PubCon: Las Vegas; Nov. 7-10

SES Chicago: Chcago; Nov. 14-18

SEO.com events

Webinar: What’s the big deal with infographics? — Oct. 13 at 9 a.m. Mountain time

Webinar: Topic to be announced — Oct. 27 at 9 a.m. Mountain time