"You can't outsource 100 percent of your link building or website promotion to a third-party and expect to get the same results you'd get if you had someone doing it in-house. You need someone in-house who really knows your industry," Ward says, since that will give link campaign strategies both context and focus.
Every site, Ward adds, "was designed with a specific and potentially unique audience in mind, specific objectives for that audience and specific subject matter. Doesn't it make sense that every site is going to require a specific approach to link building and content publicity? You can't cookie-cutter the process."
4. Begin by examining the links on your own site.
Unlike most inbound links, the links on your site are entirely within your control. Take a close look at how you're linking to your own content on your site. Are you using keyword-rich anchor text to point to relevant content elsewhere on the site? (Anchor text is a hyperlinked phrase, such as click here, that links to content that typically exists on another web page.) If anchor text is not keyword-rich, revise it, Fasser says. This can help the content that's being linked to with anchor text get a boost in search engine relevancy.
5. Create a baseline of existing inbound links.
Use a tool such as SEOMoz's Open Site Explorer to see which sites are currently linking to yours as well as the anchor text used in those inbound links, Fasser advises. This provides a snapshot of your complete inbound link profile, which is useful for tracking progress.
Open Site Explorer can help you improve your link-building strategy by providing a quick look at your inbound links--and the ones your competitors have.
Open Site Explorer data can be exported in CSV format. The basic tool is free. Additional features are included in subscription plans that start at $99 monthly.
6. Study your competitors' links.
You can also use tools such as Open Site Explorer to investigate the links your competitors have, Fasser says. This can provide ideas for directories and other sites to pursue.
7. Go after links your competitors don't have.
It's not enough to simply find out which links your competitors are getting and go after them. At best, that will simply put you on an equal footing with them. You should also pursue inbound links your competitors dont have, Ward says.
8. Focus on link quality, not quantity.
Relevant links from a few high-quality, trusted, authoritative sites are worth more in SEO terms than a ton of links from low-quality sites, Mastaler says.
9. Develop a list of top-priority keywords and use them in your online content.