This post is part of a serie on SEO for web designers, make sure you don’t miss any update by subscribing to the RSS feed.

Now that you have built your website and optimized it, the hardest is still to come: you have to get people to link to it. Getting links is hard work, whether you do it by writing awesome content or by submitting your site to directories. It is also a work that you’ll do on the long term, so get a strategy ready.

Submit your site to directories

Submit your website to directories. It is better and quicker to be included in a few good directories (you may have to pay for those) than to be linked from a thousand garbage directories. If you don’t want to waste your time, hire people to do it for you.

If your site has a RSS feed (which I recommend), submit it to feed directories and ping sites that let you ping them (Feedburner has an option for that). You can use this list of websites to ping if you use WordPress.

Use social media sites wisely

Twitter, Facebook and StumbleUpon have become weapons of mass traffic. They can also be very powerful tools for link building. If your article is popular on Twitter or Facebook, you will of course get some links from these two sites, but also on the blogs of people that discovered your content through these sources.

Best way to get social media traffic? Write compelling content that people want to share. In the design community: tutorials, freebies and list posts are the best way to get links and traffic from social media sites.

Another good reason to be active on social media sites is that Google and search engines start to use it for its results. This article on SEOmoz should convince you of the importance of social media for SEO.

Freebies & giveaways

Giving away some freebies like Photoshop brushes, textures, icons or WordPress themes is a great way to get backlinks. People who use those freebies will be likely to pay you by linking to your site or by recommending your stuff to their friends. Freebies also get bookmarked often, nobody wants to forget where the free stuff is right?

WordPress themes (or templates in general) are excellent for link building. Include a signature in the footer, some people will remove it but not all. Of course these links do not pass as much PR juice as in-post links, but they still contribute to your link building.

Related sites community news

Many design-related websites let you submit your articles through some form, then if they like it they’ll publish it as community news. If you write regular content, this can be a great source of relevant links.

1stwebdesigner has a long list of websites where you can submit your community news if you run a design-related website.

Start guest posting

Guest posting is time-consuming, but it is a good way to build your brand as a blogger and to get some back links. Many blogs will accept your content if you send them quality article, usually they’ll add a short presentation of the guest blogger with one or two links.

Send out press releases

If you are launching a website, product or service, you can try to send out some press releases on the internet. There are many free websites to do so, but also paid ones. You’ll gain some exposure and get a few backlinks from those sites, but also from the sites that’ll eventually write about your press release.

Social bookmarking sites

Digg, Reddit and Yahoo Buzz are a bit out of reach for the ordinary blogger. You can try submit your best content on those sites anyway, and try to be an active user and get some influence there.

You may have more chances with niche-related social bookmarking sites. For graphic and web design, my favorites are Designbump, Designfloat and The WebBlend. It is easier to reach the front page there, and those pass some link juice and decent traffic (don’t expect huge spikes though).

Exchange links

Send out emails to blogs and websites in your niche when you feel that they could be interested by a link exchange. Try to go for blogs that have the same kind of traffic as yours, sending link exchange requests to A-list bloggers if you have a small blog will probably be useless.