Link building IV – Creating awareness

by Martin Reed on 31 May 2007 in Articles

This is the concluding article in a series that started on 22 May 2007, with ‘Link building I – Gaining direct traffic‘, and was followed with ‘Link building II – Creating relationships‘ on 24 May 2007 and ‘Link building III – Improving search rankings‘ on 28 May 2007.

In this article I will write about how to use link building in order to create awareness of your website.

Awareness does not mean direct traffic

First, I want to be sure that there is an understanding that creating awareness of your site does not mean immediate, direct traffic.

Awareness is used to build familiarity with your site and your brand – it is used to make people associate your site with certain needs, wants and desires.

For direct traffic, concentrate on part one of this series.

The benefits of creating awareness

Even though people may not click on your links immediately, creating brand awareness gives your site familiarity to those that have not yet visited. The ideal is that when a person needs to satisfy a need, want or desire they remember your site and visit it directly.

When the user visits, they will already feel familiar with your site and are far more likely to register and become a regular contributor and valuable member of your community.

Awareness techniques

To create awareness, you need to focus on ways of getting into the minds of people that come across your links. You want to use strong word associations that will be memorable and unique to your site.

You should also consider graphical banners and buttons instead of text for your links – the human mind is far more capable of recalling familiarity through imagery rather than words.

Identify your target

Before you begin link building to create awareness of your site, you need to determine the associations you want people to identify with your brand. I will use one of my community sites, Soap Forum, here as an example.

I want to market Soap Forum as a place for people who love TV soaps to visit and chat about their favourite soaps and read the latest spoilers. The site is strongly UK focussed, so this also needs to be brought across when creating the awareness through link building.

I can therefore determine that I want the following associations to be made with the site:

  • TV Soap Chat
  • TV Soap Spoilers
  • UK Community

Design your links and ads

Once you have identified the associations you want to target, you can then get to work creating your banners and text links.

You want people to remember and become familiar with your brand and what it represents, therefore it is important to convey your target associations by including them in your ads.

Text Ads

Text ads are less effective at creating awareness, as already mentioned. However, they may be the only route open to you if a site is not willing to display your graphical ads.

Examples of text ads for Soap Forum would include links such as: – TV Soap News, Chat & Spoilers

Chat about your favourite TV soaps at

Read the latest TV soap spoilers at

In each example I am using the URL which will hopefully stick in the minds of people that read the text. In this case, the URL also identifies the UK focus. The text also draws attention to the key associations I want to target for the site.

Graphical Ads

These are the best way of creating awareness of your site. Even if users do not immediately click on your ad, if it is effective they will remember your site and may visit in the future.

Again, it is essential your graphical ad conveys they key associations you want to get across. Here are some examples of the banner ads designed for Soap Forum (click to view the full size animations).

Soap Forum Banner

Soap Forum Banner

Soap Forum Banner

Soap Forum Banner

In each banner you can see how the desired associations have been included:

  • The logo is strong and carries the URL and UK association
  • Attention is drawn to the phrase ‘soap fans’
  • Attention is drawn to the phrase ‘soap chat’
  • Attention is drawn to the phrase ‘soap spoilers’

Once again, because the aim is to increase awareness it is important to draw attention to the URL in an attempt to get it to stick in the minds of viewers.

Placing your links

It is still important to consider the relevance of the sites you want to place links on, although this becomes less important when your aim is solely to build awareness and familiarity.

I would say that it is a good idea to target sites, but with looser relevancy. If I was looking for direct link traffic, I would target other soap forums or soap news websites.

To build awareness, I would also target general TV communities and perhaps websites that cater to women (women make up the largest share of the soap viewing audience).


Creating awareness of your site is not just about attracting direct traffic. It is the process of instilling familiarity of your brand into your potential audience. People may not visit your site as soon as they hear about it, but the more familiar your links and banners become, the more your site’s message will stick in their minds.

Hopefully when they are ready for your site to fulfil their needs, they will drop by. When a visitor who is already familiar with your site comes along, they are a far more ‘valuable’ visitor – one who is more likely to stick around, register and get involved in your community.

Link building series overview

I hope this link building series was of use to you. I really have only scratched the surface of the potential benefits of link building. My overall aim was to show that link building is not solely about gaining direct traffic; it has many other benefits which I have touched upon in this series.

If there are any areas you would like me to go into further detail on in future articles, let me know by leaving a comment. Similarly, any feedback or opinions are also welcomed.

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Search Engine Traffic May 31, 2007 at 7:39 pm

What I found with banner links is that it is most effective to promote your banner links on social networks. You not only gain back links but also traffic and awareness.

Martin Reed May 31, 2007 at 11:02 pm

Thanks for your comment. Sure, if you are promoting a community then social networks would be a good place to advertise.

If your site is one that brings together people with a fascination for chrome kettles and stainless steel wheelchairs though, I am not sure how successful your campaign would be!

It’s all about targeting relevant sites, and targeting sites according to your specific goals and aims.

Chicago 2016 June 1, 2007 at 6:23 am

“First, I want to be sure that there is an understanding that creating awareness of your site does not mean immediate, direct traffic.”

I beg to differ. In my limited experience, I’ve found that these link gimmicks get me immediate hits, improves my Technorati ranking and gets me lots of new comments!


Martin Reed June 1, 2007 at 11:34 am

Hi Daniel. Sure, these links can offer immediate and direct traffic although campaigns based solely on building awareness are not aimed specifically at achieving this.

The way you approach your link building strategy should be different according to your own specific goals and achievements. If you solely want immediate, direct traffic then you should concentrate on the advice I gave in part one of this series.

If your aim is to build awareness, then this article will help you meet that goal – it may well provide some good, direct traffic although that is not the aim of the strategy outlined in this post.

Derrich June 1, 2007 at 5:57 pm

I love banner links…maybe too much. Great post, Martin!

Martin Reed June 1, 2007 at 6:18 pm

Hey Derrich – do you mean you love banners as an advertiser, a publisher, or just as a regular web user?

I think that banners are certainly more inspiring than text ads, but each are effective for different reasons.

John June 5, 2007 at 10:05 pm

I believe you have a great and very straight article here. And the forum example made me understand it better. I never thought of creating awareness before and how important could be.

Martin Reed June 6, 2007 at 11:58 am

Hi John – Thanks for your comment, and welcome to the blog. I am glad the article was useful to you. Good luck with your site :)

Rex June 6, 2008 at 6:25 pm

I wasn’t sure where to post this but one of the best ways of increasing links is to visit other blogs and comment on the articles. It can also be a way of building relationships. A variation of this is commenting on online college newspaper articles. A useful site for finding blogs related to yours is which has a search engine you can use to search for blog articles on particular topics. That’s how I found your site.

Martin Reed - Blog Author June 27, 2008 at 12:04 am

Rex – Commenting on blogs can be a great way of increasing your exposure and developing relationships. Thanks for mentioning – I am sure it will be a useful resource for some readers.

eMarkeking Links June 30, 2008 at 12:32 am

Nice article, thanks for the information. I agree that commenting on blogs is very beneficial not only in link building but establishing a connection between like minded webmasters.

Martin Reed - Blog Author July 17, 2008 at 1:35 am

Links – Networking is a fantastic benefit of writing a blog and commenting on blogs that you read.

David Lewallen January 6, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I have been link building for direct traffic so I usually comment on highly relevant blogs, however building links for awareness is a great approach as well. Thanks for the tip! For more on blog commenting for relationships I wrote a post and I would appreciate some feedback!

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