Increasing the external links to your website is one of the most important elements of a successful optimization strategy. They can boost your rankings in the search results, drive traffic, and increase your presence across the Web. But securing external links can be a challenge. That’s why it’s important to explore every opportunity to acquire them. A good place to start is by ensuring that your site’s content receives SEO-friendly citation.
The big opportunity
Standout B2B websites are usually brimming with great content, including lead gen materials such as whitepapers, articles, and case studies. Because this type of content generally includes interesting and useful facts or best practices, a target audience is likely to share the information via email, blogs, and forums. Given that, such content represents considerable opportunity to generate external links via proper online citation.
But despite the valuable time and resources spent on developing great content, it often doesn’t get the chance to fully live up to its potential to create external linking opportunities. Why? Because more often than not, little thought is put into making sure that the website gets cited when the content is shared online. In fact, many marketers simply assume that when someone cites their content, they also automatically link to the website. Unfortunately, that is not the case. As a result, many marketers are missing the opportunity to leverage their content to secure valuable external links.
Understanding its impact
For example, let’s say that a consumer research firm publishes a whitepaper about shopping trends by the day of the week. The document is emailed to existing clients, who then copy and paste key callouts in emails to their colleagues, quote the whitepaper in their blogs, comment on other blogs with snippets, and mention it at a meeting, prompting others to search for it.
Obviously, the content succeeded in engaging the target, and it was shared amongst many potential customers. However, there is nothing to confirm that the interest generated resulted in a single link back to the firm’s website. If the firm were using some type of proactive method to ensure citation, they may have increased their external links. Instead, the lack of attention to SEO-friendly citation translates into a huge missed opportunity to increase their link credibility for search.
Making it happen
To effectively leverage your content for external links, you need to ensure that your shared content is accompanied by a link – even when it’s just snippets. But keep in mind that generating external links through online citation is not the responsibility of your visitors. After all, even if they do link back to you, they may not do so in an SEO-friendly way. Given that, automating the online citation process may yield the best results. Below are a few tools that will help ensure you receive proper online citation and net external links when visitors share, post, or copy and paste your content:
- Social Bookmarking – An old favorite, social bookmarking widgets have evolved to encompass nearly every social media platform and network available – from Facebook and Twitter to more niche sites such as Slashdot and Sphinn. These widgets are commonly customizable to match the aesthetic of your website and the platforms you prefer, and are easily implemented with the code generated by the provider. Many of the most popular social bookmarking widgets are free, and some come packaged with analytics to track click-throughs. My personal favorite is Social Twist’s Tell a Friend, whose tabbed format offers social bookmarking, blogging, social networking, email, and IM options.
- Site-Hosted jQuery Script – Search and Share, a jQuery script for your website, takes automated citation to the next level. Recognizing that when visitors highlight your content they’re most likely interested in sharing it with others, Search and Share automatically provides sharing options when text on your site is highlighted. In addition, the script embeds the source page’s title and URL when the content is shared — even when a mere snippet is copied and pasted. If your target audience is highly engaged in blogging and forums, the benefits of this script are undeniable. Instead of hoping that your site will receive a link when your content is quoted, you can feel confident that Search and Share will make it happen automatically. As a result, it will simultaneously increase the links to your site, and decrease your dependency on your visitors for proper online citation.
- Providing Optimized HTML – For online marketers, it’s sometimes hard to remember that not everyone on the Web is an HTML whiz. Considering that, one of the simplest ways to make sure people are linking to you in the way that fits your optimization strategy is to actually provide them with the code. For example, take a look at PR.com’s Link to Us page. PR.com has provided pre-formatted HTML code for people to use when linking to their site. By eliminating the work of coding a link, PR.com is increasing the chance that their target will follow through. Providing an exact HTML link enables you to pursue any optimization strategy you choose, thereby increasing the effectiveness of the links on your search visibility. This strategy can be especially beneficial when securing a link from a business partner or vendor, as you may have more flexibility in determining the format of the link.
If you are going to invest in developing interesting and engaging content for your website, be sure to leverage it as a means to generate external links via proper online citation. Don’t make the mistake of assuming that your visitors are citing your content. With several tools that eliminate the hassle and increase the likelihood of linking back to a site, there’s no reason to miss this opportunity.
Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.