Setting clear goals enables you to focus your efforts on influencing search rank, your market's media (including social), or both. Consider these link building goals as you go about setting your own:

Examples of Clear Link Building Goals:

1) Increase conversions through targeted search traffic 2) Increase conversions through targeted referral traffic 3) Increase positive mentions from influential media

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The data produced by large-scale link building research can provide invaluable content strategy insight. By identifying and targeting agenda-based segments within your link prospect list you can drastically improve your link acquisition rates. Further, you set the stage for long term conversation-based relationships with these segments that provide value far beyond influencing the search rankings.

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When qualifying link prospects you inevitably find a segment of people who influence purchase decisions as well as the search engine rankings. Their ability to sway opinions - and search rankings - within your market makes them a highly valuable link target. Simply writing an acquisition email that makes a link offer leaves a great deal of value on the table in B2B and B2C markets with long and research-intensive buy cycles.

Influencing the Purchase Influencer Link Prospect Segment Ideally you ally with this influencer segment and provide them with ongoing data, research and expertise access that aids their agenda and educates them about your products and services. You do this in the effort to influence their recommendations and build a sales referral stream, as well as a feedback channel for new business directions.

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Once you've gathered and qualified your list of link prospects you must segment them according to the offers of exchange you'll make. For some of your link prospects these offers will be quite simple - an attractive badge, a tshirt or a discount coupon. For other segments of your link prospect list you'll have to expend more resources.

This list of 12 link exchange offers provides a starting point for strategically aligning your offers with the segments you'll find in your link prospect list. It's ordered by our assessment of resource expenditure, from least to greatest.

1) Offer Visually Appealing Link Badges Sometimes the offer of an attractive, appealing logo badge will be enough for your link prospects to add your link to their site. Include the badge in an html email, as well as on a page of your site. Ideally this is a unique badge you can offer exclusively to the people in your outreach campaign.

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During the acquisition phase of your link building project you will receive many rejections. Because the majority of your rejections will occur through non-response, it's vital that you grow any written "no" you receive by email into an opportunity to educate yourself. These written rejections represent an opportunity for you to improve your site's content, your future link building efforts and to better connect yourself to your media space influencers.

In the process of uncovering their main objections you will find yourself building a relationship that will help you in earning links in the future...

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In many cases your cold link request email is an unsolicited criticism of your link prospect's website.

How so?

It's unsolicited because your link prospects didn't seek you out and ask you how to improve the value of a page on their websites.

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Customer acquisition costs more than maintaining and growing business with customers you've already won. The same goes for your link acquisition efforts and expenses.

It's helpful - and ultimately more profitable - to see any new link acquisitions as the beginning of a relationship rather than the end. Remember - by linking to you they have acknowledged that your site is valuable to their visitors. Exactly how you grow the initial link relationship will depend on how you bring value to the community.

1) Send A "Thank You for Linking" Email Always send a "thank you for linking" email. Avoid smothering your new linker - a few lines are plenty. Do ask if they can think of any ways that your two sites could benefit each other. Also, consider asking this linker to connect with you on Twitter, LinkedIn, FaceBook, etc if you operate profiles on these social media sites.

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Q1: Why does your link prospect operate a website?

A: He's providing value to his site visitors either for his profit, his passion or both. Q2: Why should your link prospect STOP his current task - obviously related to providing value to his visitors - and add your link to a page on his site?

A: Because by including your URL on his page he INCREASES that page's value to his visitors.

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Here at ontolo, we have been working for the past several months to solve one of the largest difficulties in search engine marketing and online marketing in general: Link Building.  Some of you know that I have been brainstorming this service for over 5 years and was hoping to one day be able to put something like this together.

Today, after spending the last six months designing and developing this solution, we are making this service publicly available.

This link building service is a large-scale market research tool that crawls the internet based on keywords and industries.  It assigns value to those pages based on the value, relevance, and potential.  It then categorizes approximately 75% of the web pages it finds as blogs, social networks, forums, press releases, etc...any number of over 50 web page classifications.  This makes it not only a link building tool, but also a PR, outreach, news, and social media research tool.

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Hundreds of thousands of people create new links every day to explain, illustrate and share the ideas that are important to them. Links remain a central measurement that search engines use to make decisions about how websites should rank for search terms because people continue to use them to lead others to valuable information. On every web page (URL) with links there are many measurable data points that help search engines decide how much influence that URL's link should have on the rankings.

We have assembled a sampling of some of the URL data points that we have found to influence the link value search engines assign. This is by no means a comprehensive list of factors, but for those engaged in link acquisition it provides a framework for analyzing the link value your site is likely to receive from a target link prospect.

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