As most SEO professionals know, the main factors in off-page optimization are the number and quality of inbound links to your site. According to an article in New York Magazine, inbound links are an 80% accurate predictor of traffic to your site too. That means if you want to rank in the search engines for your primary keyword phrases, you should focus on getting as many quality inbound links as you can.
These days, social media is more important than ever for getting inbound links. With several companies focusing on real-time search results (Google, Twitter, OneRiot), you can’t ignore the social aspect of SEO any longer. Here are 12 ways you can get more inbound links using social media:
Network with Blogs in Your Niche
Blogs are still the bread and butter of the social sphere. Search for blogs about your topic on Technorati and Alltop and provide valuable content those groups can link to. But don’t expect people to find you – make it happen!
- Submit your best articles to blog carnivals – Blog carnivals are lists of related links that a blogger (the blog carnival host) posts to his or her blog. Go to http://blogcarnival.com to browse subject listings.
- Start your own link round-up – Saturday is a good day to post the best links of the week along with short summaries. Not only do you look resourceful, but you are helping your busy audience.
- Provide incentive for backlinks – In your round-up, you can include a section about people who have mentioned you or your blog. If you don’t do a round-up, start a press page and put every legitimate blog on there, big or small.
- Comment on other blogs – Most comment systems use a Ã¬rel=nofollowÃ® tag which tells search engines not to count the link in determining page rank; however, a link is a link, and the more you have, the more traffic you can build for your site. Tip: Instead of linking to your main domain name, link to an article on your site that is about the same subject you are commenting on.
Use Social Networking and Bookmarking Sites
Many bloggers share links to their favorite articles on a blog, miniblog or social network. Social proof via social networks is now getting heavily factored into search engine algorithms. When you are a part of these communities, you also have a better chance of finding new readers and weak ties.
- Build up your channels of distribution – Get a Facebook fan page, a Twitter profile, and make friends with people in your Google Reader. Who cares if you only have 10 fans on Facebook? That’s 10 more people who are interested in hearing what you have to say, who could share the information with others or link back.
- Add buttons for the three big social networks – Facebook, Twitter, and Google Buzz. All three of them have buttons that allow people to share, tweet, and buzz your post almost instantly to their entire networks. Put these buttons near the top of your post for social proof and easy access.
- Focus on the three big social bookmarking sites – Digg, StumbleUpon, and Delicious. Look at content from your topic area that has gone popular on these sites, and try to emulate the style and the formatting. Fake it until you make it never worked better here!
- Expand your network as much as you can – Weak ties will rule in the future of search. Google now displays results from it’s Social Circle on the first page (at the bottom). You can’t afford to be a loner on the web anymore!
- Create a group of like-minded bloggers to bookmark each other’s content – You can find bloggers in your niche who are interested and manage this with a Google Group where everyone can send out weekly requests.
Use Different Forms of Content for Social Pollination
- PDF your blog posts – Share the PDF on sites like SlideShare, Scribd, DocStoc, and Issuu and include a link back to the original blog post. You never know who might see them and choose to link back to your site.
- Turn your blog points into a video or a podcast – You can record a video in one shot with a webcam, and you can record and edit podcasts for free with Audacity. You already wrote the script, now create more content with it! Push it out onto sites like YouTube and services like iTunes with a link back to the original blog post.
- Publish your content on the iPad, the iPhone, and the Amazon Kindle – It’s completely free. The instructions are here, here, and here, respectively.
While SEO is important, don’t drive yourself nuts. Write for people, not search engines, and you will do much better in SEO. Focus on offering high quality, relevant content that is heavily targeted for the people who are reading it and give your visitors substantial information about your products and services in each and every article on your website. You’ll do just fine.
Monica O’Brien is the author of Social Pollination: Escape the Hype of Social Media and Join the Companies Winning At It. She also serves as the Director of Digital at Fizz, a word of mouth marketing agency. You can also read Monica’s blog, Social Pollination and follow her on Twitter@MonicaOBrien.