Link building is the most important element in high search engine rankings. Search engines count links to your site as a popularity vote. Search engines have grown smarter in recognizing link patterns, linking profiles, deep-linking, one-way and reciprocal linking strategies, etc.
Your links should be inbound one-way links with appropriate anchor text related to your site. They should also come from a site that’s related to the theme and content of your Website, or the link will be devalued. Who you link to matters as well. If your site links out to link farms (sites that’s only purpose is to host a large array of spam links) then you could be penalized for it.
Benefits of link building
Like I’ve said before, if content is king then link building is queen. I’m actually quite convinced that links are king. I’ve seen contentless (is that a word?) sites rank well just based off their link. Consider a link a vote in popularity. They key thing to remember is it’s not about the quantity it’s about the quality. Quality links alone can make your site rank well for your search terms without doing much else.
Consider the Google bomb of ‘Miserable Failure’. For years, up until just recently when Google finally assessed this matter, if you were to type ‘Miserable Failure’ into Google the first page that would come up is Bush’s page on whitehouse.gov. Nowhere on that site does it even mention ‘Miserable Failure’ but some pranksters linked to that site using the anchor text of ‘Miserable Failure’. Sure enough, whitehouse.gov was #1 for that term. Google has started catching on to this method of Google bombing, or mass-linking the exact same anchor text from a large number of multiple sites. This is why it’s important to vary your anchor text of your keywords and keyphrases when getting links from other sites.
Link Building Strategies
Reciprocal linking is pretty much a dying practice, but people still do it and some still swear by it. To do reciprocal linking what you should do is create a page on your site as a directory page to swap links with others. I would refrain from naming it “links” or something that search engines might catch onto really easily. Search engines don’t really condone reciprocal linking, but if you must then read on. You’re probably better off naming it “affiliates” or something similar. On your affiliate page create a directory of sites you’ve traded links with. You must make sure these sites are related to your niche or theme of your Website. Trading links with non-related sites is absolutely worthless. Linking to banned sites or link farms will hurt your TrustRank with Google as well.
To trade links with a Website look for a “links” or “affiliates” page on their Website. Sometimes they will have instructions on their site like how to link to them. Other times, you should just e-mail the Webmaster or owner directly in a professional manner. Do not use an automated program to find links and email the owners. These have a very low return rate of response. Be sure to have linked to them already before e-mailing them regarding a link exchange, and show them exactly where their link is.
To find your competition’s links go to Yahoo.com and type linkdomain:competition.com. All of their backlinks will show. You can then go through these and see what you have to do to get links from some of their best sources.
There are a few good directories to get links from and the rest are pretty much worthless unless they are related to your niche. Some of the better link directories are quite costly. I will share directories in a later post but for now know that directories like DMOZ (free), Yahoo!, Best of the Web, Business.com, and bCentral (currently not accepting new people) are quality directories to stick to. Other directories are generally link farms, and some even require reciprocation. I would highly suggest not doing that and I will explain why in the next section.
Link bait is an overused term basically meaning to offer something that people will want to link to naturally. Some common things to link bait with are informative articles, widgets, web applications, tools, or anything to lure someone in to your site. If others see it as beneficiary to them, then they will link to your site naturally. Informative articles can be bookmarked on social bookmarking or social news sites and spread like wildfire. If you land your article on the front page of Digg you can expect a surge of server-crashing traffic.
Purchasing links…too risky. But if you must, then be very careful about doing so.
Press releases are a great way to get exposure. PRweb.com and PRleap.com are great sites that distribute your press release to many news aggregators including Google. Not only do you get great exposure of your breaking news, but you get tons of incoming one-way links that you put in your press release.
Articles are similar to press release in the sense that you can mass-distribute them to article Web sites and reap the benefit of a large amount of backlinks.
*NOTE: Before submitting any press releases or articles, be sure you post them on your site and let them get indexed first. It’d be a shame to submit your content to someone else and they get the original creator credit for it. If that were to happen you would trigger a duplicate content penalty for hosting the material on your site.
.EDU and .GOV links are the best kind of links to get, not because of their domain extension, but because they are considered great authorities and are have good trust rank. Typically .EDU/.GOV sites have a huge amount of authorative links going to them from other trusted sites. They have great content and only link out to other trusted domains.
The Rate of Inbound links is very important. If your site is new then chances are you’re not going to get a hundred links in one day, and none for the rest of that week. These kinds of patterns set of flags to search engines. Be sure to keep your link profile consistent to avoid appearing like you’re spamming.
Quality not Quantity
Like I mentioned before, it’s all about the quality of the link. The quality of a link is determined by who links to you and how they link to you. Someone that links to you should be related to your site’s theme or niche market. You want to look for several things such as:
- Is there site listed in search engines?
- Do they have a robots.txt file blocking their link page?
- Do they use “NoFollow” on their links?
- Is their meta data telling search engines not to crawl links on that page or cache that page?
- Is their page full of hundreds of other links?
- Do they have a low page rank value?
If you answered “YES” to any of these questions then they most likely aren’t worth getting links from. However, getting links from only high page ranked sites looks unnatural to search engines in your SEO efforts. You want a wide array of page rank values linking to you, but the higher the page rank the better the value in some cases.
You want to get links from sites that:
· Rank well in their own search terms
· Have high traffic volume
· Have good PageRank value
· Have good usability, accessibility, and information architecture
· Are relative to your theme
· Are informative and useful
Some people worry about leaking PageRank when linking so they either refrain from linking or use “NoFollow” techniques. I think that by practicing these methods you endanger the usability and friendliness of your site. PageRank doesn’t hold much value like it used to, and others won’t favor your site if you don’t credit links so my suggestion would be to link freely. My guess is that these are probably factors when Google is determining TrustRank.