How Do I Get People to Link to My Site?

Search engines want to deliver the most popular pages in their results. One of the ways they measure a page’s popularity is the number and quality of links pointing to a page. So, if you want your pages to appear in search results, you need people to link to your pages. But how does one get people to link one’s pages?

Here are some suggestions from Google’s Matt Cutts (which are also included at Google’s Webmaster FAQ):

Don’t have time to watch the entire video? Here’s the too long; didn’t read (TL;DR) Version of Matt’s Recommendations:

  • Controversy
  • Participate in Community
  • Answer Questions
  • Original Research
  • Newsletters (Inbox)
  • Social Media
  • Where Do People Spend Their Time?
  • Get To Know People
  • Conference Presentations
  • Lists
  • Get A Blog
  • How-To’s / Tutorials
  • Free Products / Services
  • Make It Easy To Link To Your Site
  • Make Some Videos

Here are some of my thoughts on Matt’s recommendations:

First, it’s worth noting that these tips are all very content-centric and would be considered by most to be the whitest of white hat tips (which is really where you want to be anyway for long-term search strategy).

As such, they are also often more difficult to execute, which is exactly why they are more valuable, which is why Google’s Head of Web Spam would recommend them.

Second, it’s worth noting that this video was uploaded on Mar 4, 2010. A lot has gone on between then and now. And while the general link attracting principles that Matt discusses are still relevant, there are many additional ways to develop content on the web today (which is a great thing).

Finally, and I think the most important takeaway, is community participation. When people think about attracting links, they immediately jump to publishing something on their site that they believe other people will like, share and link to. But that’s not really where great link attraction begins. It begins by developing recognition. And this recognition usually occurs somewhere other than one’s own site.

It occurs on comment threads on other sites.
It occurs on social networking sites.
It occurs on guest blog posts to other better-known sites.
It occurs on email exchanges.
It occurs in real-life interaction.

If you spend some time analyzing what gets shared in large numbers online, a lot of the time it has more to do with who is doing the sharing than what is actually being shared.

For example, if the President shares a picture of his dog, it’s far-more likely to get linked to, shared, etc, than if I share a picture of my dog.

Obviously, you’re probably not going to develop online recognition comparable to the President’s. However, that’s where your head should be. Thinking about how you can develop recognition for yourself in local and topically relevant communities.

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