Whatever your industry, there’s bound to be a blog out there that specialises in it, and these can be incredibly valuable sources of inbound links to your site.

For anyone reading this who’s new to search engine optimisation (SEO), natural inbound links to your website from authoritative blogs will do wonders for your position in the search engine results pages. Google and the rest look at these links to assess the importance of your pages for certain keywords and phrases.

So, that makes top bloggers hugely important to your optimisation efforts. Once you’ve worked out which are the most relevant and powerful online journals, how can you encourage them to link to your pages?

Here are my thoughts, please add your own.

Deal delicately

Successful bloggers tend to be extremely proud of their efforts so you may have to tread very carefully.

If you get in touch and offer the writer money to promote your product, you could well end up with a scathing attack on you for cynicism.

To be honest, a blog that will accept money to promote a product will probably not be that powerful or respected a resource anyway. Lots of blogs accept money to promote goods and services but only a few manage to retain their trusting audience once they do so.

When you’re dealing with a blogger, a negative discussion or debate could result in bad publicity on the very blog you’re trying to gain exposure and links through.

Meet people

If it’s possible, meet your target blogger in person. Whether it’s at a conference or networking event, or your company actually taking the writer out for a drink or meal, meeting someone in person is always a far better starting point than an unsolicited email.

Offer guest posts

Although many blogs won’t want to risk their integrity by promoting your product or service, that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t agree to host a guest blog post.

This could be anything from a regular column like mine in Econsultancy, or a one-off contribution. Of course, it’s important that such posts are interesting in their own right and not just sales pitches – when you’re trying to reach out via the blogosphere, you need value-adding articles and guides rather than brochures.

Send freebies

How much confidence do you have in what you sell? Although many bloggers will reject requests for positive coverage, many of them will happily accept products to review – especially if they can keep the gadget afterwards.

If you offer a service rather than a product, invite them along to experience it. As long as it’s relevant to their blogging topic, most writers will happily run a review – everyone likes a freebie.

The only danger is that you do open yourself up to criticism if the blogger doesn’t think you’re quite up to scratch.

Blog yourself

The blogosphere is based on conversations and the best way to get involved in these is to start your own.

If you want inbound links from other industry blogs, then posting your own thoughtful articles on your own website is perhaps the best way to get coverage.

Having said that, although it may be the best way, it is far from the easiest. Your posts will need to be articulate, informative and valuable – so be aware that a blog takes time. Done well, though, it will be invaluable to your SEO efforts.