Why Build Links?

Link building, commonly referred to as backlinks, is essential to bringing more traffic to your site and building the authority of your content. Read these articles for more information on links and why they are so important:

https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-link-building

searchengineland.com/back-basics-5-fundamentals-link-building-will-never-go-away-195206

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Increasing Domain Authority

Once your site is optimized, you need to acquire links and citations for your website in order to start beating the competition for specific keywords. Google uses links & citations as a way to determine ranking. Think about it: If your site and your competitor's site are both optimized exactly the same for a keyword like "bed & breakfast in [your town]" - then how does Google figure out who should rank ahead of the other? The answer comes down to links and citations.

How to Get Links?

This article is about setting a good foundation for links. Once you've tackled the categories laid out below, then it's time to take a look at content strategy, content marketing, and PR as ways to acquire more "earned" links. These links will grow your domain authority, help you not only outrank the competition, and drive traffic to your site.

Yes, this work can be tedious. There are diminishing returns for link building as well. Meaning, you'll get 80% of the results from just spending a couple of hours in each category. Once you've covered the bases, move on to content strategy, marketing, & PR.

Pro tip: Do not hire a firm to build your links and do not pay for links purely for a link. It is absolutely OK to pay for an association membership and get a link in return, but you do not want to go out and buy 500 links to your website. Google is really good at spotting this and it can cause you lots of problems. You'll gain more from spending that money on advertising, boosting your content on Facebook, or on hiring PR help to raise the profile of your brand. Links will be a byproduct of those types of efforts.

Start with Links from "Owned" Listings & Profiles


Owned listings are the places that your property "lives" on the web that you "control" - like your social media accounts. Make sure you have ALL of the "About" information filled out including the areas where you can link to your site. If there's a place to put your address, make sure it is IDENTICAL to what you have on your site. I can't stress this enough.

  • The short list would be to list your business pages and fully build out your profiles on sites like: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, etc.
  • Don't forget second-tier business listings like TripAdvisor, Yelp, FourSquare, Google MyBusiness, Bing Places for Business, SuperPages, YellowPages, etc.
  • Odysys has an add-on professional service to help with getting your business listings & profiles optimized. See Local Business Listings Service

Links from Partners, Groups & Associations

This is pretty self-explanatory. Are there real-world relationships that you can get online links from? Who do you refer business to? Who refers business to you? 

If you're paying for membership in an association, chamber, etc., then make sure your listing on that site is up to date and fully filled out.

It's also perfectly acceptable to exchange links with business partners, vendors, complimentary businesses, etc.

How about local clubs & orgs: what do you or your employees do in spare time? if a member of any org - get a link from the org's website.

"Local" links

Local blogs
Get a local blogger to write about you.
Local blogs are a great place to get your business listed. These will obviously vary by particular geography, but if you simply perform a search on Google for "[your city] blog" or "[your neighborhood] blog," you'll likely see good candidates.

The sites that show up for these kinds of searches are, by definition, very well-indexed by the search engines, and highly associated with a particular neighborhood, city, or region in local results. Businesses that are mentioned or linked to on these blogs are viewed as trusted, relevant results in the local search engines.

Locally focused directories
Like local blogs, local directories are well-indexed by the search engines and are highly associated with a particular city or region. Directories which are edited by a human are much better than those which are "free for all." Human-edited directories are less susceptible to spam, and are therefore more trusted by the local search engines.

Two examples of terrific locally focused directories are Best of the Web's Regional Directory and Yahoo's Regional Directory. In my city there are sites like http://www.neighborhoodnotes.com/ with a directory of local businesses.

You can perform searches for things like "[your city] directory" or "[your state] directory" to find good prospects for these kinds of citations.

See the "PRO TIP" below. If your property is a wedding venue or offers cooking classes, you can find link opportunities for each of these categories as well.

Industry-Focused Directories or Blogs

If a website is focused on topics and keywords related to your products and services, it may be included among the sites that the local search engines count as citation sources—even if that website or directory is not focused on a particular region.

For instance, the membership directory of your trade organization or a blog that is popular among readers in your industry will both probably be crawled by the local search engines for citations. Searches like "[your industry] directory" or even "[your keyword] directory" or "[your keyword] [your location]" (ex: wedding venues portland oregon) will give you some ideas of the kinds of sites on which to get listed.

PRO TIP: If you offer cooking classes or are a wedding/meetings group events venue in addition to offering accommodations, then you've got multiple ways to get links. Each of those categories should be explored individually. For example, try "wedding venue directory."

Starter List of Industry-Focused Directories to Get Links or Citations (Listings) From
The DA number is the "domain authority" of the site. A link from a site with a higher DA than yours should help boost your own website's DA. DA shouldn't be your only guiding metric - relevance, fit, audience, and return on investment should all play a role.

Additional Link Building Strategies

The point of these strategies is to give others a REASON to link to your website from theirs.

  • Link Building with Events – e.g. conferences, community´events or university events. Get listed on event websites as a partner/sponsor and/or as a place to stay when attending the conference or event.
  • Event sponsorships: Sponsorship should include, among other things, a link from the event or organization website to yours. Event sponsorship ideas include: 5k/golf tourney/peewee hockey team or little league team (typically around $250/yr). You'll get a link from their website.

    Sponsor an event that always drives a lot of business for your property. It is typically a few hundred bucks to get the lowest level sponsorship that also includes links from their website.

    How to find groups/orgs to sponsor? Do a google search like this:
    "[your city] inurl:sponsorships" and "[your city] inurl: sponsor-us"

  • Giveaways - e.g. offer a free weekend/package giveaway
    Hype the giveaway with a press release, blog post, announcement via your local organization, social media accounts, newsletter subscribers etc. Host the giveaway information on your website and have participants link to your website.
  • Monitoring existing brand mentions and asking for links when your business is mentioned
    Setup Google Alerts to look for mentions of your property name. Get an alert? Ask the person mentioning your business to link to your website if they haven't already.
    Use social media monitoring tools or just perform regular searches in social media for your property name.
  • Host or sponsor groups at your property. Use meetup.com > look for groups who meet on a regular basis that need a regular location and let them use your event space / common areas. OR if you don't have space, look for groups who have a meeting location and need a sponsor. Sponsor their group and get links from the website and the meetup page
  • Local charities: partner with a local charity to host an event at your property. or participate in the charity or help organize an event etc and get a link from your profile on their website

USE GOOGLE
Find events, leagues, associations & organizations to sponsor by using Google searches like: 

  • [your city] golf tournaments (try other sports as well)
  • [your city] events (try 'church events' 'school events' '
  • [your city] festivals
  • [your city] bowling leagues (or softball leagues etc)
  • [your city] associations
  • [your city] awards

The goal is to find a few inexpensive options for sponsorship that will get you really local links to your website that none of your competition has.

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