Organic links and how to get them

Organic Links
When it comes to getting traffic to your blog (or most other sites to that matter), the most important thing you can get are plenty of inbound links. Inbound links will both send you traffic from the originating site and more importantly they serve as a vote for your site which will influence your site’s position in the search engines.

There are various ways to generate inbound links:

  • Buy them – using services like Review Me or Text Link Ads or source direct in forums
  • Exchange links – this is were you link to one site and in return they link to you. You can contact similiar themed and sized sites or again use a forum
  • Organic links – these are when other sites link to you on their own accord and what this article is all about.


Search engines like Google love organic links as they are natural votes for a site, they don’t like paid links (though whether they can detect if it’s paid is another matter) as this would mean sites could effectively buy their position in the SERPS (Search Engine Results Page) and I’m sure Google would rather you used Adwords for that. It’s debatable how much credit you get in the search engines for link exchanges, if they’re relevant and of interest to your readers they certainly won’t do your site any harm.

There are two main steps in attracting organic links:

  • Having content that is worth linking to
  • Said content being seen by people who will link to it

Creating Link Worthy Content
This is where content is king, nobody is going to link to crappy or spammy content. What you need to think about is what sort of content would you link to, if you write something that’s useful or interesting to your readers you’ll find other site owners will often think the same and share the story.

If you have a product based blog, being the first to report on a product is a great way to attract new links. The product doesn’t necessarily have to be new it just has to be new to your niche of readers. I write a fair amount in the gadget niche, as blogging niches go gadget and technology is overcrowded to say the least but by writing about original products will result in a flood of new links. However writing posts about products that have already been reported on all over the blogosphere, will result in very few if any.

Instead of writing new and original content you can always try producing a list of other peoples. You must add some sort of value to it, which could just be the research involved in finding it and grouping it together. The most linked to post we’ve done on SMM (so far) is the Feedburner Top 100.

Letting People Know about your Quality Content
Okay so you’ve written that killer post and you’re sitting back waiting for those natural organic links to flood in and what happens, nothing. It doesn’t matter how good your post is, if nobody reads it who’s going to link to it. This is especially true with new blogs (it does get a lot easier as you get established) and is a bit of a chicken and egg situation. So what do you do to get the organic ball rolling?

Leaving good relevant comments on other related blogs is great way to get the blog owner to check out your site and if they see something they like (or think their readers will like) that could mean a new link for you. When doing this it’s worth looking at how many comments a site is getting, if it’s a blog like Matt Cutts which can get hundreds of comments a day there’s a darn good chance he ain’t going to check every one (though if you’re reading this Matt then hi), so look for blogs that are established but not getting insane amounts of comments on every post. Always put time and effort into the comment and add to the original post, don’t leave comments like “you can read my article about blahblahblah on my blog” as that will just piss off annoy other bloggers. I check out every single website that has been listed against comments on this blog, many of which I’ve added to my feedreader and will likely quote from in the future.

Link to other blogs, for me this has been the most successful way to be noticed and not only that it’s pretty damn ethical and good for your readers. Bloggers love stats (ok maybe a slight over generalisation there but it’s true :) ) and will often use service like Technorati to see who is linking to them and what do we do when we see somebody is linking to us, we’ll check them out and if it’s a quality (or interesting) post there’s a good chance of a link back.

This is what we did with our Feedburner Top 100, we linked to every site in the list, many of which visited the site and a proportion of them linked to us. I’ve also just seen Paula Neal Mooney doing this with her list of Blogger Salaries, who did I find her (for the first time) she linked to me on the list (not that my salary was correct but hey that’s not the point of this or that post).

I’m going to stop here on this post as I’m starting to go on a bit, though I do feel there’s a fair bit more to say and I’d be very happy to hear comments and other suggestions.

About Al Carlton

Al quit the 9 to 5 rat race in January of 2007, before then he was a software engineer and systems architect of financial system. Nowadays Al spends the days running his various businesses and experimenting with different ideas and opportunities.
Al can be found on twitter at AlCarlton.

Comments

  1. I am glad you made a few pointers on better ways to do this. A good % of traffic to my sites come from comments on other blogs as well as posts in forums. Comments in others sites (useful comments) tend to do better as the forum readers might not have a site or be on the lookout for somethign useful to link to. I always like to link out and credit those where I found the information from.

    I had a read of that blogger salaries this morning and noticed you were quite high up there on the list. I am glad to say I could make the list :) Im just not saying how high up. LOL.

    • I was surprised to see myself on the list but the income shown was a fair bit lower and I’m sure there are 100s of people who should of been above me anyway.

  2. I agree with you al. For me, the best type of link is organic. When a blog gets organic links, it’s time to say its popular. Like all say “Content is king”

    Carl

    • I find with organic links you get the snowball effect somewhat. You put the first bit of effort in and then it builds itself, though you can always give it the odd push or kick along the way.

  3. I particularly agree with your mention of placing useful comments on other blogs. This strategy certainly helped establish my blog. Additionally, I am like you – I always check out the site of each and every person that comments on my blog (and each commenter gets a full link back as I have removed the ‘nofollow’ attribute.

    As for linking to other blogs, I often struggle in this regard as it seems I am the only blogger with the niche of building online communities.

    Everyone else seems to be blogging about making money online – sure there are some crossovers, but not enough for me to spread excessive link love!

    - Martin Reed

    • Interesting blog you have there Martin and I love the topic of it, very useful. Thanks.

    • I also am acting almost like you. I always check back the home pages of those who comment on my blog and also post a thank you comment on sites linking back to mine. This is nice and easy for now.

      But i’m wondering what would happen when the sites will get big enough to have at least 20-30 comments a day. I surelly won’t have time for that anymore, as i’m allready on the edge…

      So i guess ethical blogging can be acheived with small and at most medium sites. Once you get big, you won;t have time for this, even if you’d want it.

      Al, please correct me if i’m wrong.

      Regards, Mike

      • I totally agree with you Mike. Here with SMM we get a fair few comments but not all that many links as yet, so it’s pretty easy responding to them all. With comments on the site you can often reply to a fair few at once which saves time. With my main site CG that’s quite the opposite, it gets a lot of organic links on a daily basis but relatively few comments so nowadays I don’t have the time to leave comments on all linking blogs, however every now and again I’ll do a big public thank you post and thank many sites with a link, I find this then encourages more sites to link in again :)

  4. For a new or small blogger, this is by far the hardest thing to learn or achieve. Thanks for the pointers.

    I find that the competition is incredibly high to get noticed by some of the big guys, (boing boing, etc.). Finding good, medium sized blogs to target with comments is something I’m going to try.

    • It’s certainly worth the effort and by the topic of your site you might be able to thank the blogs you first saw the products on (if that was the case).

  5. Link love is the name of the game, but as with all good networking- the more you give, the more you get. When I post, I try to link to as many related sites as possible without making the post difficult to read.

    This is my order of priority:
    1) Blogs that have never linked to me
    2) Blogs that have linked to me
    3) Other websites

    Of course, at every level, Google PR dictates who I link to first but like John Chow, I have no problem linking to a PR 0 site. We were all there at one point :)

    • I don’t really have any priorities when linking, if a site is relevant to my readers I’ll link to it. I also do the odd thank you post every now and again to thank sites for linking to me in the past (with a link of course).

      • I Stumble every site that links to me organically or having removed nofollow on comment links. I got the idea from http://www.searchenginejournal.com/; it’s win-win since your ‘I like it’ brings them traffic, and in some cases visitors will even click through to your site.

        • This is a great idea that I’ll use myself in the future. As a fairly insular blogger in the past, I really like the ideas presented both in the post and the comments.

          Jay

  6. Well, I guess I may as well dive in. Al, thanks for stopping by my site. As you saw, we have similar thoughts…except mine aren’t yet proven like your’s. :)

    Also curious, have you removed nofollow from your comments? Over at Randa Clay they have created a nice looking logo for the “I Follow” movement.

  7. The tip about linking to other relevant blogs is timely for me. As a newcomer to blogging, I have to admit that I just realized how easy it is to find out who is linking to my blog. I’d always considered linking to be a sort of “stealth” operation that would go unnoticed by the destination.

    It’s hard for newcomers to realize just how much they don’t know about what is possible…keep the great tips coming!

  8. I greatly enjoyed this post. I need to work on my own organic link building skills.

    I’m giving this post a Digg and a Stumble

    Thanks for the info

    Scott

  9. Another tip that just worked out for me: pick a smaller or up and coming company that could use the exposure and write about them.

    I just recently did a tutorial about setting up a blog on JustFree.com, and ended up with a link from their news and FAQ sections. They found the tutorial when Googling themselves.

    Jay

    • Great suggestion Jay, I’ve done this a few times in the past totally accidentally, but having as a strategy could really work, thanks.

  10. Valid points, though that about Google maybe far-fetched.

    How do they penalise paid links? Matt Cutts has already said that there is a form for users to report paid links.

    This probably means that they are not (yet) able to detect paid links. So, ReviewMe and TLA is far better than AdWords in my book.

    As regards commenting on other’s blogs, heck, that’s what I am doing ;)

  11. Thanks for all the info. great suggestions. i will be trying them all.

  12. When Google spiders through a website, how long does it take for a link to get counted?

    Let’s say, I get 300 links to me, this week. And then Google spiders all those websites within the same week. Do those links get added and counted automatically? Or rather how long does it take for you to see an effect.

    If Google spiders your website, will it necessarily get to your link right away? Or does it spider only selectively?

    Sorry if this is irrelevant….

  13. Google will generally recognize a link once your site is crawled. FYI quick way to have your site crawled is to update your site map via Google webmaster tools.often with Google your links won’t appear in their SERP’s, they are there and are giving you needed link juice, but Google will not always display your links otherwise someone could simply mimic your link strategy.

  14. I have been focusing lately on varying my anchor texts, which seems to make a big difference. =D

  15. It was also suggested to me to write letters to the editor to get my name and link out there. I have tried google and yahoo but seen little to no results.
    Many people want you to pay per click advertising. A friend of mine tried it with not much to speak of. Thank you for the great tips.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] ending my self-enforced publicity blackout. It was in response to Al’s recent post over on SMM. It hasn’t shown up yet though, so either they are moderating comments or I have failed to [...]

  2. [...] Self made minds has a great post on a similar topic about generating organic backlinks [...]

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