There’s no denying it, link building has become more difficult. Most of the old tricks have lost effectiveness as the Search Engines have become more sophisticated. Within the last year, purchasing links in general directories has also become considerably less valuable.
The idea, of course, is to make the Search Engine Results Pages more relevant and less manipulated. Ultimately, this approach is good for the Internet as a whole, but it does require a much more creative and long term approach to link building. In the lodging industry, I advocate Linkbuilding with Locals.
Hotels, inns, lodges, bed and breakfasts, resorts, vacation rental companies and other lodging properties are at the front line of the tourism industry. They serve as the home base for travelers who then embark for the day and evening to eat, shop, scuba dive, ski, tour, drink, dance, and generally dump large amounts of revenue into the local economy.
How does this tie into link building?
It is in the best interest of any hospitality website to offer significant travel information to their guests. Visitors booking accommodations online often have voracious appetites for local information-they want to know where to go, how to get there, what to do, where to eat, and more. When a hotel or resort invests the time to create a helpful directory of the community for tourists, it’s not unreasonable to ask for links from local businesses in exchange for those referrals. This simple technique results in a win-win-win situation. Tourists get good local information, local businesses receive valuable customer referrals, and the hospitality website gets a boost in Search Engine rankings from more good links. The only real loser in this arrangement is the competition.
Some suggestions for moving forward:
- Don’t solicit links through email. It is a notorious spammer’s technique. Speak to the business owner in person for the best response.
- Try to get a direct link from a good page on the other business’ site (preferably the Homepage).
- Try to get a link that uses good, relevant link text. A link that reads “click here” or is simply the lodging property’s name or URL is of less value than a link that reads Miami Hotel or Destin Vacation Rentals, etc.
- Never stop trying to get good local links. In most communities there are countless small businesses that you can partner with in this manner.
- Don’t just refer guests to these local businesses via the website. Your front desk and concierge can help cement these relationships, as well.
- For the truly entrepreneurial, as the relationship is solidified and a business recognizes the value of the referrals sent, renegotiation for special packages and profit sharing or commissions are very possible.
WARNING: make sure that the businesses you are creating these relationships with are among the best your community has to offer. Pointing your guests to a terrible dining experience in exchange for a link isn’t good business.
Done properly, this sort of link building could be one of your most productive techniques for achieving high rankings in the Search Engines.