Inbound link building is an activity that’s often left as an afterthought as a business implements its inbound marketing strategy. In part businesses pay little initial attention to link building because, well, there has to be content to link to before you can build inbound links. So the focus is on the volume of content. Gotta fill that website. But darker reasons perpetuate inbound link building procrastination…

Link building is often ignored long after linkable content fills your blog and website simply because it requires us marketers to leave the comfort of our on page SEO and websites and venture out on the web, engaging authorities who may find our content interesting. At the precise time when link building could propel our marketing from good to great, we tend to behave like online introverts, our marketing energy waning with the thought of engaging other bloggers, content syndicators and social media communities. Big mistake.

Here are 5 expert techniques we use at Innovative Marketing Resources to overcome the introverted attitude and focus our energies on inbound link building:

1. Strive for Outstanding Content

Content volume is important, but long gone are the days of random and out-of-context link exchanges as a method to improve website ranking. Your content must be a resource worthy to be a reference for others. Experts, those you want to emulate, don’t merely write content with high quality, they make it interesting and engaging. As a discerning reader, you’ll choose to consume content that you perceive as valuable. This is the type of content others will link to, or share with others.

2. Make Content Linkable This is the most important step of all. Make sure that once you’ve enchanted your reader, perhaps even inspired them to comment, that they can easily share or link to your posts. Make sure social network buttons are visible along with your content post. In this way you are letting your readers do the SEO for you.

3. Connect with the Right Audience Begin building your reputation around your niche the day you get online. It takes time to build your reputation and expose your brand to the public. One effective way to accelerate the process is promoting your content to those who have already established themselves as experts in your niche. Befriend experts within your industry, and do so with compelling content.

Go niche and dominate…your efforts will be far more successful if you become the authority in a smaller niche, rather than one among many in a broader topic.” – Aviva Directory

How do you find and get to know these authorities? Three tactics. One, visit their blog or follow them in social media and engage them with comments; the type that generate a response. Build relationships with them spontaneously by sharing their content in your own social networks. Two, promote your blog comments with tools like Commentluv, Disqus & Keywordluv. All this builds relevant traffic to your site and organic SEO. Third, promote your own content on relevant content syndication sources, such as business2community.com and socialmediatoday.com.

4. Publicize it in the Social Content Community Lastly, we advise clients to leverage the best social content voting and publishing tools to promote their content and generate high-value inbound links. Sites like Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon, and reddit all hold high page rank value. This makes them authoritative and extremely valuable for link building. Write outstanding content, optimize it with the appropriate key words and tag it in the right categories, and people who search for authentic, authoritative information will find your work via these sites. The better your content, the more organic linking will occur between social publishing sites, readers and reader’s blogs.

“The adoption of social media widgets – including tools used for social networking, micro-blogging, bookmarking, and photo sharing – grew 80% from 2009 to 2010. Widget adoption specifically related to Facebook and Twitter almost doubled, growing from 6.96% to 11.86%.” – Lijit

In the end, good link-building practice is part science, part art. And as SEOmoz writes, link building is one of the most difficult activities to measure, particularly from an SEO perspective. While search engines have a precise way of measuring the value of a link, it’s difficult for the marketer to easily to the same. Use analytics like Hubspot’s Sources Report and Link Grader tool to determine whether you’re seeing increases in organic search traffic via increases in referring link traffic. Those are the indicators that you’ve broken free of your introverted ways and are taking your content from good to great with an effective, well-managed, SEO campaign.