Link building I – Gaining direct traffic

by Martin Reed on 22 May 2007 in Articles

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:

  1. Link building to gain direct traffic
  2. Link building to create relationships with other web developers
  3. Link building to improve search engine rankings
  4. 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:

Hi James

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.


Martin Reed

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.

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Chicago 2016 May 22, 2007 at 3:07 pm

Good things to know, seeing as I just started my own site. I find that just posting on as many blogs as possible and branding the heck out of my content was a good thing to do, thanks to Tim Spangler’s advice.

Martin Reed May 23, 2007 at 12:35 pm

I agree Daniel – branding is very important and is a topic I think I should cover in a future article.

Chicago 2016 May 23, 2007 at 1:43 pm

You should host a conference over by you! I’m sure there are some interesting community-builders overseas. Maybe the Pirate Bay people could even attend.

Martin Reed May 23, 2007 at 7:26 pm

A conference, eh? I wonder how much I could charge! Who are the ‘Pirate Bay’ people?

Vista Geek May 24, 2007 at 1:40 am

Can’t wait for the article on nurturing relationships. Link requests are going great but I am having difficulty keeping in touch with other webmasters.

Smiley May 24, 2007 at 11:08 am

It’s very hard getting a new community off the ground. It’s a vicious cycle. You need new people to grow but new people won’t stay if people aren’t already there!

We have links floating around in directories etc, working on getting one in DMOZ at the moment.

I’ve e-mailed several sites with the same keywords as I have – with little success. Not many successful sites want to lend a hand to new communities!

Martin Reed May 24, 2007 at 12:13 pm

Vista Geek – thanks for your comment. I hope the next link building article will be of use to you.

Smiley: Sure, it is really hard to get the more established sites to open up and give you a chance if you are a new community.

This is when you really need to sell yourself and your site in the email you write when initially approaching them

Explain how they will benefit from a link exchange – keep things personal and professional.

Good luck!

Directory Submission Utility November 26, 2007 at 3:44 pm

The most effective way to get backlinks is to submit the site to web directories. By submitting the site to web directories you get one-way links to your site. And search engines consider one-way links to be more valuable than reciprocal links.

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 27, 2007 at 1:29 pm

Directory Submission – I agree that submitting to web directories can be beneficial, although this article was looking more at link building through the use of link exchanges.

Directory Submission November 27, 2007 at 5:46 pm

I agree. Building links is a challenging process, and reciprocal links are often the easiest ones to acquire, especially for new brand sites. From the other hand, keep in mind that reciprocal links are now considered less valuable than one way links. So, you should not count on them much.

Smiley November 27, 2007 at 6:29 pm

It’s important to be weary of directory sites that require you to pay to be listed, though. Most often than not, these sites will have no or little effect on your search engine rankings whatsoever.

There are plenty of free directories out there that will have much bigger effects, have been around a lot longer, and have a lot more credibility.

Most paid-for directories are new, have a tiny page rank number themselves, and are only in it to make a quick buck.

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 29, 2007 at 1:46 pm

Directory Submission – You’re right, although in this article I wasn’t talking about the value of such links in the eyes of the search engines, merely about using them to gain direct traffic from people clicking on the links.

I would argue that a link on a well targeted website will always see more people click on your link compared to a web directory that has hundreds of categories and thousands of listed websites.

Smiley – I couldn’t agree more. I have never paid to submit any of my websites to a directory, and doubt that I ever will.

Smiley November 29, 2007 at 2:27 pm

Unfortunately, I fell for the paid listing trap once. A website used the name ‘Firefox’ in a rather unethical way, it mislead me to believe that my favourite browser, Firefox, owned the directory.

So I know from experience paid directories are not worth half a penny. I check my stats every night to see how much the visitor number has grown by (it puts me in a good mood for bed time!) and after search engines, my biggest referrer is a FREE directory… I don’t think I’ve seen ONE referral from the “Firefox directory”.

Martin Reed - Blog Author December 1, 2007 at 2:36 pm

Smiley – Paying for a directory submission definitely demands a good amount of research beforehand; the last thing you want to do is throw money at a listing that will bring your site absolutely no benefits!

Bacis SEO Information December 15, 2007 at 12:01 pm

Direct traffic is more relable and more benefitial for any site. i always go for social media submission for my site to get good relevant traffic.

Martin Reed - Blog Author December 15, 2007 at 5:09 pm

SEO – Using social bookmarking is something I haven’t yet covered. I should write an article about this in the future.

kashif February 13, 2008 at 12:55 pm

Leaving comments on blogs that are “doFollow” helps you a lot in link building specially if they come from relevant sources.

Martin Reed - Blog Author February 15, 2008 at 3:22 pm

Kashif – I agree, but you should always ensure your comments contain useful information or opinion – otherwise they could be interpreted as spam and be deleted!

Link Building April 25, 2008 at 4:49 am

as per my experience link building is more helpful in gaining search ranking rather than search traffic but indirectly it boost traffic tooo. nice information, thanks for sharing

Martin Reed - Blog Author April 25, 2008 at 4:30 pm

Link building – Sure, link building can also help search engine rankings and I covered this in the third article of my link building series:

Exchange links to improve search engine rankings

search engine ranking May 3, 2008 at 8:34 am

What i think its better to work on your keywords in order to rank them high in search engine ranking in order to get traffic. Now doubt there are some other ways, but for adoption of those ways you have to invest consistently. I am totally agree with this that traffic can be get through communities, directory submission and other ways as well.

Professional Link Building May 5, 2008 at 1:13 pm

It can also save a lot of searching time to use a good link exchange directory

Martin Reed - Blog Author May 5, 2008 at 3:57 pm

Search – Keywords and anchor text is important, and I covered them in another article. This post was solely about using link exchanges to gain direct traffic from the site(s) you have exchanged links with.

Professional – I have never tried link exchange directories; they may be helpful but I think I would still prefer to hunt out appropriate sites myself.

kouji September 24, 2008 at 10:58 am

tricky though. i get a bit creeped out by the idea of a stranger addressing me by name. then again, i guess that’s because i try to remain anonymous online.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 6, 2008 at 8:28 pm

Kouji – Well, if you are anonymous and don’t use your name online, it is unlikely that someone who emails you requesting a link exchange will use it (they won’t be able to find it)! If you do use your name online though, I think most people feel more comfortable being personally addressed by it.

John October 15, 2008 at 9:52 pm

I agree with most of the comments here, getting a community site off the ground is very VERY hard and needs tons of work by promoting and advertising about it.

Good Luck.

Smiley October 16, 2008 at 5:52 pm

Agreed, Martin.

I go by ‘Smiley’ as my username as it’s grown on me, but at the bottom of my forum signature, e-mail signatures and the “Real Name” field in my chat client profile all says Tom.

I find it makes users feel more important somehow to call me by my real name.

Martin Reed - Blog Author October 23, 2008 at 9:40 pm

John – Thanks for your comment, I am glad you enjoyed the article.

Smiley – Nothing wrong with nicknames; just as long as you are identifiable with a name, it doesn’t matter what that name is (within reason!).

William November 5, 2008 at 3:50 pm

Well what i think we need to select keywords with decent traffic and the domain name if you could get with the same name of keyword, than it would be more easier to rank.

Eric Johnson November 10, 2008 at 2:12 pm

I have some points to consider to get traffice and i am also applying these points

1- select keywords getting direct traffic
2- try to get the domain name with that keyword
3- write good quality researched content including that keywords

i hope to get more traffic to adopt these points

Leonardo Medina November 13, 2008 at 11:45 pm

Submitting the site to web directories and link exchanges are effective ways to get backlinks. No doubts.

But i think writting articles and submit it to article directories is a better and easier way. Most web directory owners take a long time to review a website. While article directories can review and approve your article within 3-7 days, in most times in 1 day.

Martin Reed - Blog Author November 17, 2008 at 8:20 pm

William – Yes, I think it definitely helps to have your desired keywords in your domain name and I covered this issue in my article Building a new community: Choosing a domain name.

Eric – All good points; thanks for your comment.

Leonardo – I don’t agree that article marketing is a better promotion method than ensuring you are in relevant web directories and linked to from popular, relevant sites. Article marketing gets you backlinks – they aren’t always relevant, and they aren’t always from popular, authoritative sites. Both strategies complement one another, I wouldn’t categorically state that one is better than the other.

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