Starting a community site is a real challenge – without people you have no community, but people don’t want to join a community when there are no other members!
Getting an online community started from scratch is a huge challenge, but I believe there is no more rewarding site than a successful online community.
In this link building series, I hope to share some tips and advice with you all on how to approach your link building strategy.
Promoting your community site
First up, you need to create content for your site. There is no point in getting visitors to your site if they arrive and there is nothing for them to see. Starting a forum from scratch is extremely tough.
It is essential that you create content so that when your visitors arrive, they have something to see!
When you have started that process, you can then think about a link building strategy.
What are your aims?
So many people rush out and start trying to build links to their site without actually considering why they are doing so.
This link building series of articles will focus on link building to match specific aims. The aims that will be covered include:
- Link building to gain direct traffic
- Link building to create relationships with other web developers
- Link building to improve search engine rankings
- Link building to create awareness of your site
Link building to gain direct traffic
The key to remember if you are looking to gain direct traffic from link building is to only target relevant sites. It is no good promoting a community for meat lovers on a vegetarian forum!
Think about the interests your community members will be likely to have. Then go to the search engines and find sites that cater to these interests.
Make it personal
Find out the name of the person you will need to speak to in order to get a link – this can be as easy as searching a forum for the administrator, or a high ranking moderator. Most site owners will have their name somewhere on the site. Otherwise, you can always try doing a WHOIS lookup.
By addressing the contact by name, you distinguish yourself from all the other emails that person receives in a day. In your email, tell that person why you think a link exchange will benefit them. You are selling both your site and yourself, so tread carefully and remain professional.
Example email requesting a link exchange
A standard email I would use would run something like this:
My name is Martin Reed. I run Just Chat, a popular online community for adults. I found your site a few weeks ago through a search on Google for the keyword ‘online community’, and was very impressed with what I found.
I really like the community feel you have fostered on your site, and the way you get involved in creating and promoting interaction. I feel our sites have a lot in common and that we would mutually benefit from a link exchange.
If you get the time, please do take a look at my site:
It would be great if we could work out a link exchange that would be beneficial for both of our sites. Please let me know if you think we can work something out.
I look forward to hearing from you, and wish you continued success with your site.
The benefits of this email template
An email like this is highly personal which encourages a relationship. You are distinguishing yourself from the other emails that your contact will receive on a daily basis, and are providing a level of detail that shows you really do like their site and have taken the time to really take a look around.
Link building to gain direct traffic
In summary, if you want to gain direct traffic through link building then follow these steps:
- Target sites that are relevant to your audience
- Target sites with good search engine rankings to maximise potential traffic
- Find the name of a contact and write a professional and personal email
- Negotiate the link positioning – you may be able to get a link on a high traffic page
By the end of this process even if you have not been able to gain a link you have still created a relationship with people in the same field as you.
Don’t consider rejection as a failure – if you have followed the above steps, you have created a brand new relationship which can be just as valuable (if not more so) than a link.
The next article in this series will talk about link building to create and nurture relationships with other web developers and the benefits these bring.
If you would like to see specific issues addressed in this link building series, let me know by leaving a comment.