With no links your practice website will not get very far.
Because links are one of the main ranking factors in search engine optimisation, they can be relatively hard to come by, especially for B2B websites and websites discussing what is perceived to be a “boring” subject.
However, if you see links for what they truly are – a way to drive people to your site – it is possible to overcome these difficulties. The 15 ideas I share below should help you kick start your link building campaign.
It will help, if you apply these ideas, to have a list of keywords handy before you start.
- Check out the competition
Type each keyword from your list in Google, Yahoo and Bing, and write down the website address of the first 20 results. Head to Yahoo Site Explorer, and type each address in the “Explore URL” box, press enter, and then click the inlinks tab.
You should see a table of web addresses that currently link to the site. Decide whether or not these pages would be suitable for a link request and fire them an email asking for the link.
- Hang around forums
Try to find forums that are used by your target audience and become an active and helpful member there (remember people don’t like hard sell). This can help you establish yourself as an authority in your area of expertise and drive many visitors to your site if the forum allows signature links.
How to find forums? Simply ask yourself, does your practice specialise in pubs or nurseries? Do you want to target businesses in and around Manchester? You should be able to find half a dozen forums to get started.
- Join a blogging community
Try to find blogs that are talking about taxes, accounts or any other business related matters and become an active member of that community. Again, be helpful and stick to it for the long run, bloggers do not appreciate drive-by comments and will probably black list you if you spam them. Sign-up for Google Reader or any other web (or desktop) based RSS aggregator to get alerted of new blog posts on these blogs.
- Get your own blog
Webmasters will link more willingly to your main site if you share useful information on a blog attached to it. Having your own blog also helps with the ongoing creation of new content which in turn should generate links. Get it on your own website to spread the benefit of your link acquisition.
- Find perfect linking targets
Create a list of generic blogs that use WordPress plugins such as keywordluv or commentluv. These allow you to get links that have a really targeted anchor text as well as deep links to your latest blog posts or article.
- Write guest blog posts
Guest blogging is when you offer to write an article for more established blogs in order to get your name in front of their readers, as well as a link back to your own blog or site. This can work wonders especially if a really popular blog agrees to publish your work.
- Sign-up for Google Alerts
Google Alerts allow you to receive an email every time one of your target keyword is found on a website. This could help you identify sites that you would have otherwise missed.
- Search established sites for your keywords
Use your favourite search engine “advanced search” to find blogs, forums, and sites that mention the keywords you want to target. They probably won’t show in Google Alerts because they are on older pages.
- Write online press releases
Online press release sites can help spread the word about news or events happening in your practice. PR Web is probably the first one to go to, but if you have been running Google Alerts for a week or two, you should also have an idea of other outlets that regularly appear in them.
- Submit your site to online directories
The internet swarms with online directories, from those that specialise in accountants and tax listings to generic ones. Make sure you target the first group first.
- Submit your site to CSS Galleries
Because CSS Galleries are used by a lot of people (to get design ideas) and because they require a manual review before listing a website, they are fairly well-regarded by search engines. To help you I have created a list of 90+ CSS galleries for your accountancy website.
- Get social
Websites like ecademy, xing, linkedin and off course Twitter are already filled with accountants but it is always possible to get noticed, if you provide insightful help when someone asks for it. These sites encourage to publish a full public profile that can link to your main site. Use them.
- Get local
Most practices have a client base that is local to them. Exchanging links with local sports clubs or charities will not only help your site appear on local search engine listings, but also get you “in front” of the people who visit these sites. Get these links a bit later when your site is established as an accountancy website.
- Buy links
Even though Google frowns upon this, and has penalised websites for doing it, buying links is not in itself dangerous, IF you do so in order to get visitors and not better rankings. Simply make sure that the link you get follows Google guidelines for buying links i.e. that it uses the rel=nofollow.
- Think outside of the box
The previous 14 points are good ways to get links but require quite a lot of effort. If you think creatively, you could generate interest in your site and practice by:
- offering a free excel spreadsheet for mortgage repayments;
- a book keeping spreadsheet for small businesses.
- working for free at a dedicated local charity
All these can help your practice website gain some exposure. This type of link building is called link-baiting, and I will write about some link baiting ideas for accountants in one of my next articles.
Link building is a very time consuming task, but if done right it will make a world of difference to the number of people who visit your website, your search engine rankings and your practice bottom line.