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May 20, 2010
Link Warfare: A High-Level View of Running a Linking Campaign

If you want to get an idea of why certain competing Web sites rank higher than yours for certain keywords, do this. Go to http://search.yahoo.com and type the following into the search box: “link:” plus your competitors’ domain name (without the quotes). Then do the same for your own domain name. Change the textbox labeled “Show Inlinks” to “Except from this domain.” You will only be analyzing external, third-party links. Chances are good you will find your competitors’ Web site has a lot more links than you.

If this is not the case, other logical explanations can be made. This will require further examination. Perhaps the competing site contains your core keyword in its domain name. Maybe the domain name is considerably older. Maybe it is just better optimized. Run the competing Web page and your own Web page through a keyword density analyzer. Although keyword density is not as important as it once was, doing this will still give you an idea if your competitor is making more aggressive use of the keyword on his or her site.

Let’s step back and say your competitor does, in fact, have considerably more inbound links than you do. Now you know what you’ve got to do. You’ve got to declare link warfare. You’ve got to beat your competition at his or her own game. What you need is a strategy for generating links from many different locations that contain your target keywords in the link text. Here is how to make this happen:

Several areas exist to pursue links, and you should use as many as possible. The first thing you should look at is your competition’s links. Who is linking to them that might also link to you? Using the aforementioned Yahoo! search will show you 1,000 such links, but there may be many more than that. Commercial SEO software packages like WebCEO have built-in tools to generate more extensive lists. Other free tools to try include Majesticseo.com. If you see links listed that reside on resource or links pages, those are like low-hanging fruit, so you should definitely pursue links there.

You should also incorporate a content creation and distribution element to your link-building campaign. For example, you could create an account at Wordpress.com or Blogger.com (or any number of other blogging platforms) and set up a new blog devoted to your industry. The blog would contain relevant and useful information, along with many keyword links to parts of your Web site. Create several of these, but mix up the content as much as possible.

Also, set up accounts at several of the top article directories, such as Ezinearticles.com and Associatedcontent.com, and begin submitting articles. The key to using articles to promote your Web site is to make sure you include a well-written author resource box with a couple of keyword links to your site. If you want to be slick, plan your blog posts and articles ahead of time so your blog gets updated systematically and that material becomes the basis of your articles. You can download a social media/content planning spreadsheet from http://www.bethemag.net.

Next up is the old standby of reciprocal linking. Despite what you may hear, link swapping with industry-relevant Web sites is still a good idea. Google likes Web sites that serve as sources of information and links devoted to a particular industry or subject matter. Therefore, it is beneficial for you to have links on your site pointing to other sites. Even if some of the links are to competing businesses, who cares? The point of a link page on your site is not really to provide your visitors with a list of links. It’s purely to get keyword links in return.

Finally, you should incorporate a social media component to your search engine marketing campaign. For example, set up a Twitter account and post regularly with relevant news and links, including, of course, links to your own site. Set up a few social bookmarking accounts and bookmark your Web pages. You get the idea.

This has been a brief, sky-high view of conducting a linking campaign for the purpose of raising search engine rankings. If your Web site is lagging behind your competitors’ in terms of search engine visibility, there are things you can do about it. Building up your inbound link portfolio with the strategies discussed here is a great way to start.


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Jerry Work is president of Work Media LLC, a Nashville SEO firm that specializes in orchestrating Internet marketing campaigns that blend organic search, paid search and social media. He is also the author of "Be the Magnet," a new book on using social media and content distribution to promote websites. For more info, click here.

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