Online Marketing Resources

How to Link Your Way to the Top of Google

By Bob DeStefano

How popular is your Website? I ask this question because it can have a dramatic effect on your search engine ranking. Specifically, I am referring to your Website’s ‘link popularity’ – that is, how many quality Websites link into your Website as a resource. Every link into your Website is a vote for its quality, and Google and the other engines tally these votes when determining your Website’s rank.

Link popularity is the most impactful, and most neglected, search engine optimization strategy. Recently, I talked to a company that learned this fact the hard way. They just completed a sizable investment in a great new Website with a great design that was optimized for a top search engine position. However, they couldn’t understand why they could not earn a ranking higher than their competitor who had a very poor Website with an old, outdated design. After reviewing their situation, I was able to determine that link popularity was the cause. Although the competitor’s Website was poorly designed, it had thousands of links into an article posted on its Website. The company I was advising had barely 100 inbound links.
So, how do you make your Website more popular? Conduct a focused link building campaign. Link building involves gaining links to your Website from other quality Websites that are frequented by your targeted visitors. The more quality inbound links you have, the more popular your Website is in the eyes of Google and other engines. And, these links can have a dramatic effect on your search ranking.  

Create link-worthy content.

As profiled in the example above, one of the best ways to attract scores of inbound links is to make your Website’s content link-worthy. Think strategically about the audiences you are trying to attract and the content that interests them. Then load your Website with useful, educational content that changes regularly. You may want to consider starting an educational blog to help with these efforts and position you as a leader in your industry. If you follow this best practice, you can turn your Website into a link magnet.

Assess and improve your current inbound links.

Are you making the most of the links you already have? Do you even know how many inbound links you have? If your answer is no to either of these questions, this is the best place to start your link building efforts. Take advantage of advanced search tools offered by each of the search engines to find pages that already link to you. Then, make a list of sites that should have links to you but don’t, including trade associations, customers, vendors, suppliers, online magazines and other business partners or industry resources. Make a thoughtful, personalized request to the owner of each of these sites and respectfully ask them to add your link.


Online directories are a great resource for building inbound links. Focus first on important directories within your industry – those offered by trade associations and online publications for your industry are a great place to start. Then, investigate opportunities with paid directories like ThomasNet, GlobalSpec, IQS Directory and others. Finally, get your site listed in topical directories like DMOZ, and Yahoo Directory.

Submit articles and press releases online.

Online public relations is a great way to build scores of relevant inbound links over time. If you do not produce press releases regularly, then start! Make sure you craft them leveraging your most important keyword phrases. Then, distribute these press releases using an online press release distribution service like PRWeb and watch as they get picked up by online publications and blogs. In addition, begin writing educational articles and submit them to industry publications. Don’t forget to include an active link back to your Website in your byline or profile.

Review your competitors’ links.

Perform a search on Google for your most important keywords. Anyone in the top ten listings is your competitor, whether you know them or not. Chances are they each have great inbound links to achieve that ranking. Don’t worry, that’s great news for you. Once again, take advantage of Google’s advanced search tools to find pages that are linking into each of these competitors. This is a great way to determine what sites you should be targeting for your link building efforts.

Avoid these link building mistakes.

Almost as important as following the best practices for link building, you must also avoid the following worst practices:

  • Don’t load up on reciprocal links. Unfortunately, trading links with other sites will have minimal impact on your link building efforts. While it may make sense to do so from a business point of view, don’t overdo it. It’s not worth the effort.
  • Don’t buy links from link farms. A link farm is a site that does nothing more than list links to other Websites. These sites are a waste of time and money. Search engines discount link farms entirely and humans will never visit them, so there is no good reason for you to be there.
  • Don’t spam sites requesting links. Your link building efforts should be targeted and personalized. Avoid the urge to spam a bunch of sites en masse asking for a link. It doesn’t work and often causes more problems by tainting your online image.
From Our Clients

“We realized our Website had become more Supplier-focused than Customer-focused.  Bob’s presentation made us sit back and think about its effectiveness and try to view it from the eyes of our customer.”

— Jon Eames, N. H. Bragg