"The most successful websites may start with an aggressive initial push to obtain links," writes Samantha Wells at the Daily SEO Tip blog, "but afterwards, it is inevitably the case that those sites retain authority because people willingly link to them. The challenge thus becomes to find influencers and readers who are genuinely interested in the information you provide."

So how do you do that? Wells offers advice like this:

Identify and woo influencers. Use Twitter to find brand evangelists with numerous followers. Then follow them, read what they've written at their blogs and websites, retweet them, and initiate positive @reply conversations. Over time, this creates a reciprocal relationship in which they start to take notice of your tweets. "Because you learned what interests them," Wells says, "they will naturally retweet and link to your content when it is on subject."

Ask customers about the social networks they use. Surveys are a great way to find out where they connect with their friends, families and colleagues. "Satisfied customers are usually willing to give you a link back from their websites or profile if you ask for it (or provide incentives for them to do so)," she notes.

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