The most important thing you must do in your online endeavors is get people to read what you write. You can have the absolute best product, most compelling content, or most valuable information available, but if you don't have traffic, you won't be successful.
Let me define “successful” for a moment. Success is your objective. It's whatever you want it to be. It might be quitting your day job and running your own online business. It may be supplementing your income. Or it may be becoming famous.
Or it might just be getting 100 RSS subscribers. Or a 1000.
“Success” means whatever you want it to mean.
However, none of that will occur without getting people to your site. Of course, you could buy a bunch of traffic with Pay-Per-Click ads, but that traffic may not be well-targeted and it will most likely be short-lived.
One of the tried-and-true traffic-building tactics is to build your “backlinks.” A backlink is a link back to your site from another site. It's a referral, so to speak. If somebody puts a link to one of your posts on her site, then she's, in effect, endorsing it.
The search engines give a lot of weight to backlinks. Not only the number but the relevance. However, the number means a lot. In short, comparing two similar blogs side-by-side, we'll see the blog with the higher number of backlinks rank higher in the search engines for a given search term.
So, you want to build your backlinks. But how? There are a few ways:
- Ask. Generally, if you propose to a webmaster a “link exchange,” most will comply. It's tit-for-tat: You put up my link and I'll put up yours. This tactic used to be very successful, but nowadays it seems to have a little less effect than a true one-way endorsement. By the way, this link exchange is also known as a reciprocal link.
- Comment. If you make a comment on a blog and you get the opportunity to fill in a “web site information” field in the comments form, do so! Comments are generally moderated by the web owner or administrator so the search engines view a posted comment as a (weak, but effective) endorsement by the site. Commenting on blogs is highly effective.
- Write articles for Article Directories like ezinearticles, goarticles, or SearchWarp. In these articles, you write compelling “useful but incomplete” (thanks, Jimmy Brown) information with a link to your web site or a specific web page (your subscribe page is ideal — you can build your email list this way). This serves as a valid backlink. Plus, since your article is syndicated, web publishers can re-publish your article in dozens, even hundreds or thousands, of places. This can directly drive a lot of traffic to your site, especially if your article is picked up by a big site.
- You can comment in forums, too. Just be careful. Forums became big SPAM sites, so many forum moderators will not only delete your posts if they consider them “too SPAMMY,” but they might also ban you from the forum! However, do some “lurking” in the forum you wish to post to beforehand to see what is acceptable. Read the Terms, too! Finally, ask questions and get involved before you make your “pitch.”
- Finally, there are “backlink building” tools and resources available that either automate some or all of the above (and more) or they give you sites where dropping a link back to your site is relatively easy.
Angela's Easy Backlink Builder is a good example of the latter. Each month, her service provides you with 30 high Page Rank (a Google term) sites on which you can post your link back to your site (remember, link back to your subscribe page or to a page you want to get out there WITH a subscribe form on the page itself — you want to build your email list, too).
It can be difficult to process all 30 sites in one month.
Here's a trick: Automate it (as much as possible) using a “form filler” like RoboForm or LastPass. Both of these utilities are known as password keepers, but they have excellent form-filling capabilities.
For example, typing in all the information to register at a site and then filling in your backlink information MANUALLY can take anywhere from 5-10 minutes. With RoboForm (the tool I use), it takes about 30 seconds. Angela sends each month's backlinks in 4-6 packets. I do one packet at a time. In a few days, I can get the whole thing done.
Now, it's a $5 a month service. First packet is free. The big question is, how many backlinks do you need?
I'd say 30 from a month's worth of packets is a great start. Using the other methods listed above in conjunction with “backlink building,” you can get a ton of quality links back to your site in a couple of months. Your rankings in the search engines should rise pretty rapidly.
Build in quality, original content, and you've got a winning recipe for getting readers to your site. Next step, of course, is building relationships with your readers. How do you do that? That's a topic for another story!