inbound marketing

Free Inbound Marketing Strategies: The Brass Tax – Part 3

It’s time for part 3 in our 4 part series on Free Inbound Marketing Strategies. We’ve covered online content and it’s many uses in Part 1 and the ever changing world of social media in Part 2. Now that we’ve had our appetizers, it’s time to get to the meat and potatoes of our inbound marketing series.

Linking and Authority: The Other White(hat) Meat

There are a lot of ways to build web authority to lead people towards your site and content, but none are more direct than some healthy backlinking and participation in forums and Q&A sites.

Let’s dive in and analyse the many ways in which we can love our businesses and build up our online presence.

Backlinking Ain’t Easy! But it’s 100% Worth it

The most obvious and widely recognized way to increase your web authority is through backlinks. Fortunately these backlinks double as a new route or electronic pathway back to your site and its content.

Getting healthy and valuable backlinks is much easier if you have a plan.

First and foremost comes content. Having stellar content is far more important than simply getting something down on electronic paper. We’re talking about quantity over quality. Producing one piece of content each week that is widely shared is far more valuable than 5 pieces a week of content that don’t deliver useful info.

Here’s a few ways to gather the backlinks you need to increase your authority and visibility on the web:

  • Backlinks From Existing Partners – If you do business with someone and they have a website there is a possibility for a backlink partnership.
  • Backlinks From Customers – The same goes for your customers. Especially for B2C businesses. If you have some sort of review process after transactions are completed feel free to ask for a link (if they have a site) or to review you through Google+.
  • Backlinks From Good Content – We already said it but this is so important we’re also adding it to the list. Produce good content and people will link to it!
  • Backlinks From Local Business Organizations – These can cost money by way of membership fees but some local business development offices, often government run and managed, can offer free backlinks on their sites. Check your local directories and contact them directly. There’s no harm in asking.
  • Just Ask – Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Search for related sites and blogs and simply ask if they would be willing to give you a backlink. Prepare an email template that is easy to modify and send to cut down on your time expenditures.

Fortunately we’ve already covered this topic in more detail. Click to read our Backlinks blog post and start pushing your business to the top of the online pack.

Tip: Backlinking takes time and effort but it’s worth it. Do a search for related sites and info and start keeping a spreadsheet list to keep them organized. Asking twice or too often can negatively affect your close rate. Make sure to add any contacts, business or otherwise, to the list if you think there’s an opportunity and follow up in due time.

Internal Links: Reduce, Reuse and Recycle… Your Readers

Internal links don’t have any added value in terms of external web authority but they do help keep your site visitors engaged and clicking through from one piece of valuable content to the next. Again, and we can’t stress this enough, producing quality content is your main weapon against being sucked down in the undertow of internet obscurity.

Each time you draft a piece of content for your blog or site pages keep your eyes peeled for internal link opportunities. Over time you will invariably mention or discuss topics you’ve already produced content for. Each one is a chance to internally link to previous content.

Having this network of internal links in place increases the chances of your readers staying on your site longer and potentially making contact for something they need.

Here’s a few examples of some internal links which lead to other content from Canopy Media:

Insert internal links whenever it’s prudent and keep your site visitors in the cycle.

Tip: Keep a list of the content you produce and each piece’s corresponding keyword and URL in order to cut down on internal linking time. Having a comprehensive list lets you take control of your website and build effective paths for your readers to travel along.

Commenting, Commenting and More Commenting

Does your blog posts have the option for readers to leave comments? Is it deactivated because you are worried about negative feedback?

If you produce stellar content and provide and even better service or product then there is very little to worry about and it works both ways. Many other blogs and websites have the option for open comments, and sometimes those comment sections allow for the insertion of links.

It’s important to comment like a real person in these cases and not to produce a robotic response. Make sure to actually read the related post and try not to jump directly to the blog comment section.

This allows to you comment intelligently and appear as an industry leader as well as pack in a valuable backlink to your site or content.

Here’s some random examples of websites with comment systems:

Tip: If you’re concerned about having an open comment system where anyone can post a link to anything, then set up a screening system where comment posts aren’t published to your site until after you review them. This keeps you protected and the comments flowing. Just remember to check and verify comments regularly. If users see their comments online they are much more likely to make more comments in the future.

Forums and Q&A sites: Business Chit-Chat

Another excellent way to increase your authority on the web, and increase awareness of your business at the same time, is through forums and Q&A sites. Finding active forums is as easy as Google-ing your keyword or term and adding the word ‘forum’ to the end of that search.

Your results will show you a few options. Take a look at each forum and choose where you want to spend your time and effort. Your decision should be based on how related the content and discussions are to you business and how large the forum community is.

Q&A sites work in much the same way but operate on a slightly different set of expectations. Industry leaders usually take the role of answering the questions asked by the inquisitive community. If you provide concise, helpful and regular feedback and answers you’ll gain brand awareness and additional online authority.

Chances are you’ll eventually be able to lead an inquiring mind to your goods and services. Just remember to not be pushy about it. Self-promotion has a time and place and Q&A sites aren’t always the best place for those kinds of marketing pushes.

No list this time. There are more forums that you can shake a stick at but Linkedin’s Q&A section is one of the best B2B and B2C forums on the web. Take a look.

Tip: Make yourself a calendar item that repeats every week and designate 30 mins or more to signing into your forums of choice and answering some questions. Keep at it and before long you’ll get a following and even some direct questions.

And there you have it! We know we said backlinking ain’t easy but it should be simpler now that you have some ideas and a little direction. Time to get some valuable backlinks. Chop chop.

If you want to jump back to part 1 or part 2 and start from scratch follow the links. And stay tuned for part 4, coming next week. We’ll help you build a strong backbone for your site with some in depth coverage of SEO and WPO and whatever else we can think of in terms of free inbound marketing strategies. Ta-ta!

This article is part of the Free Inbound Marketing Strategies series of articles.