There are two sides of a coin when considering how to market your site on the internet. Firstly, concentrate on the site itself: write regularly updated quality content and optimize the site for search engines. Secondly, by concentrating off the site: getting quality sites to link to yours.
As I’ve said before in this series, there is no way to cheat the system. Employ these link building methods in an honest and respectful way. There is no quick and easy solution to link building and SEO. It takes time to do and time to see the results.
Why get links? Simply, more links = more traffic.
But also, Google (and other search engines) counts a link as a “vote” for your site. The more votes for your site, the higher your site will feature in their search results. But it is important what sort of page is linking to your site.
Here is what Google says about links:
Links help our crawlers find your site and can give your site greater visibility in our search results. When returning results for a search, Google combines PageRank (our view of a page’s importance) with sophisticated text-matching techniques to display pages that are both important and relevant to each search. Google counts the number of votes a page receives as part of its PageRank assessment, interpreting a link from page A to page B as a vote by page A for page B. Votes cast by pages that are themselves “important” weigh more heavily and help to make other pages “important.”
Download the Google toolbar for Firefox and it will show you the PageRank of every page in the internet. If you get links to your site from pages that have a PR of 7 or more you’re laughing!
But the relevance of the inbound link is also important. Get links from sites that are in a similar area of business to yours.
Here’s a great little trick of doing this. Find a site of a company or individual who does what you do but is more established, has a higher PageRank – basically find a website that you want to emulate. Check out the links to their site. Google “links:www.their-site.com” and you will see who links to them. Try to get these sites to link to you!
Here are some tried and tested ways of getting good relevant inbound links to your site. (Apart from having quality content!!!)
Write articles for other sites and guest posting
Write original material for other websites, blogs, articles site and industry news sites that are relevant to your field. Of course, sometimes you will write an article for someone else and then think to yourself “oh that’s quite good, I should use that on my own site!” But, be generous with your content and write as good an article as you can for other quality sites in your niche.
Here are some general articles sites but you should also look for articles sites and blogs that deal with your area of expertise.
Your article or press release will sit on these sites for months and years to come with a link back to your site.
Comment on other blogs
If you read a good article on a blog, why not spend a few minutes writing to say what you liked about the post and see if you can add anything to the discussion? People may follow the link from the comment to your site.
These comment links back to your site may not provide you with any link juice.
The thorny nofollow/dofollow issue and an explanation of “Link Juice”
Link Juice is the name given to the PageRank (and other things) passed from one page to another via a link. Because a lot of blogs, forums, social bookmarking sites and even some directories are “nofollow” you will not get any link juice from links from these sites.
What is a “nofollow” link?
rel="nofollow"is a piece of HTML that is used to instruct search engines that the link should not influence the target’s ranking. In other words, a nofollow link sends traffic but not PageRank.
Some webmasters and blog owners actually want to reward commenters with a bit of link juice and remove the rel=”nofollow” tag. So if you comment on these blogs your PageRank and, ultimately, your place in the search engine rankings will improve. Lists of “dofollow” or “nonofollow” blogs do exist but I would exercise caution here.
Commenting on these blogs with a few words such as “nice post, dude” and entering your keywords instead of your name will not help you. Comments such as these will be deleted immediately (they may not even make it on to the page) and will serve only to make you unpopular with the very people you need to get on with. As always with SEO, act honestly.
I used to be a “dofollow” blog but I stopped because of too much comment spam.
Social bookmarking sites
People submit links of content they like on the web to social bookmarking sites such as Digg, del.icio.us, StumbleUpon, Technorati (more of a blog search engine) and, new-ish kid on the block, Twitter.
You can create a page of your own favorite links and include a few back to your site. If your links are considered a good resource by others they will follow them, including the ones to your site, and you may get more links from them.
Social bookmarking is a great way to promote your site, network with other people in your area of expertise and find new ideas and information to help you develop your site. But don’t over-submit your own content or you will be penalized. As always with SEO adopt the “white hat” approach. If you’re offering something valuable you will reap rewards. If you don’t, you won’t!
Link to other sites
Link to sites as you would like sites to link to you.
If you find some valuable information or resource related to your field then link to it from your site. But do this in the correct way. Write good anchor text for the link. The anchor text or link label is the visible, clickable text in a hyperlink. The words contained in the anchor text is weighted highly by search engines. So when you are linking to some other page say what it is (and maybe something nice!).
So do this:
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page">Wikipedia, is amazing multilingual, web-based, free-content encyclopedia </a>
but not this:
<a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Main_Page">Click here</a> for Wikipedia
The webmaster or blog owner will see this lovely inbound link with good anchor text and may return the favor one day.
Also certain blogs will automatically publish a trackback to your site when you link to it. These trackbacks can produce traffic and, in a minority of cases, link juice – but, again, don’t abuse!
Submit to directories
It’s tedious and depressing and should only be done for 10-15 minutes at a time with some musical accompaniment but here’s a list of 50 free directories with good Google PageRank with no reciprocal link needed.
Reciprocal links and three way link exchanges
Reciprocal links are the “I’ll scratch your back” method of SEO. You link to them if they link to you. The benefit of doing this is considered to be extremely limited.
What may be slightly better is a three way link exchange where site A links to site B and site C links to site A. This creates the illusion of a one way link in the eyes of the search engines. When partaking in this form of linking I would be cautious of link building companies. Regularly check to see if their link to you stays there as many will delete these links a few weeks after they are set up. And try keep them relevant to your site’s subject matter. Here is my links page if you want to do a three way link exchange get in touch.
Question: So, what’s the best method of ensuring good in-bound links from sites of high Google PageRank?
Answer: content. If you haven’t got anything anybody wants, not many people will link to you. But you knew that, didn’t you.
Another interesting point is that the two reasons for linking – traffic and link juice – usually go hand in hand: my best links in terms of PageRank are actually the best links in terms of traffic.
Go about the above techniques with respect for other sites and for the subject matter – keep it real and honest. And, in my opinion, limit these link building activities to less than an hour a week. You’ll go mad otherwise and it’ll make sure you’re not diverted from the main goal – quality content!