Image via Flickr by Jonathan_W

We’ve reached the sixth day of marketing, which means we’re halfway done with the twelve-day merry marketing extravaganza! And while six geese-a-laying may reduce your grocery costs, we’re betting today’s gift will be far more useful for your business.  So ditch the fertile poultry and get those links-a-building with today’s expert, Debra Mastaler of Alliance-Link and Link Spiel.

Want customers to find you online? You’ll need a good search ranking. Sorry, folks, no one’s going to dig through 30 pages of search results just to find your business.

Want a good search ranking? You’ll need a solid SEO strategy– and a huge part of that is reassuring the search engines that you’re the real deal: you’re an authority in your field, a trustworthy source, a well-established site, and not a Nigerian prince asking customers to take a trip to Western Union.

So how do you reassure the search engines that you’re an upstanding member of the Internet community? You start a link-building campaign– and no one knows link building better than Link Spiel blogger Debra Mastaler.

Today we’ll be discussing ways to generate traffic, budget-friendly ways to build links, and some good old-fashioned Link Building 101. Whether you’re a link building newbie or a grizzled SEO veteran, you definitely don’t want to miss what Debra has to say.

Image via

Featured Blogger: Debra Mastaler

Blog: Link Spiel

Debra Mastaler is the owner of Alliance-Link, a marketing company with a specialty in link training. She’s also the resident blogger over at Link Spiel, a blog focused on link marketing. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SEO firms located all around the globe. Debra was voted one of the Top SEO Women of 2011 in addition to being listed as #17 on the Top 100 Most Influential Marketers of 2009.

1. Why is link building so important?

Link building is an important part of SEO. If you want to rank well and build algorithmic trust, you need to continually attract links to your web pages.

Link marketing is equally important. Here you are building links for traffic and to build a brand. You need both types of linking, working together, to be successful online.

2. What is the first step to link building for a new site?

It’s important we highlight the word “new” because there is a difference in the way I would secure links for a new site versus one that’s been around a while.

If you have a decent-sized marketing budget, the most efficient way to build links is through concentrated content development and promotion.  I’m not a fan of sending content away from a site as a link attraction method, I prefer to keep the good content at home and promote it for links.

You can also develop promotional elements like widgets, contests and sponsorships.  Some of these techniques can be a little pricey to get going, but once they are launched, they can be used and reused long-term and in viral promotions.  Most paid options have free versions, so don’t shy away from a widget promotion because you think it comes with a large development price tag.

If you don’t have a big marketing budget, no worries. Basic link building tactics such as blog commenting, forum signatures, directory submissions and media promotion via the free press release submission sites work very well (you just have to do more of it).  Many of the paid options such as widget creation or directory submissions have free versions, read through their sites carefully and take advantage of what you find.

3. You’ve mentioned “algorithmic trust” twice now, can you elaborate on that and tell us what “community linking” means?

Sure! Algorithmic trust is associated with search engine optimization (SEO), which is the process of improving key components on and around a web page so the page ranks well in the search results. For example, if  you want to rank well for the term “running shoes” you will need to optimize your pages for this term and secure inbound links using the phrase as your anchor text.

Algorithmic trust, or more technically, “link popularity,” is passed through links from pages the link sits on.  Your goal as a webmaster is to get a large number of links using keyword anchors to point to pages optimized for those terms.  Any link, provided it’s not broken, will pass some sort of link popularity, even those using an attribute such as no follow.

Community linking is different. This type of linking is focused on driving traffic and social media signals, not reinforcing an ongoing SEO campaign.  In this case, I don’t care where my link sits as long as it’s being clicked!

My job as a link builder is to point links to a site so traffic and algorithmic trust continually flows.  While social media signals do indirectly (supposedly) help with SEO, I’m more concerned with exposure and people clicking links in this case.  The more people see your content and website, the higher the probability they’ll link to it and have it become top of mind when they search for your products.

4. Since we’re talking about traffic, what is the most effective way to generate traffic to a site?

By using a targeted email list.  When people opt in it means they want to hear from you and will click links you send them. Collect email addresses from your customers and visitors or buy lists from industry associations and create a monster list you can use and reuse as needed.

5. What is the most common mistake people make during the link building process?

The most common link building mistake I see involves a lack of basic SEO support.  If you point keyword anchor text links to pages optimized for the same keyword phrase, you support ongoing SEO efforts which in turn will boost your rankings. It’s fine to point basic links to any page on your site and those links will help your SEO overall, but pointing keyword anchors to optimized pages really helps!

Have your anchors use keywords found in your title, filenames, headers, and body content.  Your pages should be optimized for multiple keywords, use all of them and increase your chances to rank well for multiple terms.

Get social with Debra on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

More from the 12 Days of Marketing

Quick Writing Tips

More Calling Cards

Free Sales Leads

Search Engine Love

A Lesson in Content Strategy

Don’t forget to come back tomorrow for the gift of 7 Ways of Sharing featuring Brent Csutoras of HUA Marketing to learn how proper social media practices can generate more traffic for your Web contentCheck out our 12 Days of Marketing calendar to see the entire series schedule. On day twelve we will have something you don’t want to miss – the CopyPress team singing along to the song of “The 12 Days of Marketing”.