Gaining backlinks is the most important factor that will increase your website’s rankings. In fact, the leading SEO experts agree that 70% of SEO efforts should be geared toward building backlinks. So focus less on tweaking title tags or page rank sculpting and direct resources to where you’ll get the most bang for your buck – building backlinks!
Link Directories: Easy, Bottom Of the Barrel Links
The easiest links to get are from link directories. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of these link directories provide little value when it comes to boosting your rankings. The only time where these links tend to carry weight is if the directory is locally focused.
Buying Links: Easy, Very Risky
Buying links violates Google’s webmaster guidelines, and could earn you a Google slap which manifests in a sudden rankings drop or delisting if you’re caught. With that said, there’s a thriving industry for buying links. If you have the stomach to defy the search engine gods, here’s an excellent link buying guide.
Article Directories: Low-to-Medium Value
Submitting articles is still a great way to gain backlinks! There are two schools of thought when it comes to article submission.
- Go for volume, less on substance. You churn out vacuous articles, and submit to as many directories as possible. The end goal is the author byline link in each article.
- Go for substance, less volume. You deliberate, and write fewer articles that contain fresh ideas, or a unique perspective. The end goal is for this content to be picked up and syndicated on other websites, hopefully with the byline intact!
I might catch some flak for saying this, but I prefer the volume approach. There are better options for exceptionally crafted content – examples in the next heading.
One last note on article submissions: The essential element to submitting articles is the author byline. Often byline links are not no-followed, meaning they will provide some rank juice . It’s important that these backlinks include your keyword phrase in the actual link text (a.k.a. anchor text).
Guest Articles & Blogging: Medium-to-High Value
This link building tactic is more difficult than article directory submission. Content at this stage requires more effort, not only must it be unique it should rival journalistic writing. Your article will be vetted by a blogger or an editorial staff who are keen to provide high caliber content for their readers.
Links produced by these efforts tend to carry more weight. This is because you’re hitting the holy link trinity – relevance, context and neighborhood.
- Relevance of the page to the topic in the anchor text.
- The surrounding text gives the link contextual meaning.
- The link is coming from a website in the same neighborhood. This provides additional context to the link, giving it more weight.
Additional tips for guest blogging. While some bloggers openly accept guest posts, the vast majority do not. If you find a relevant blogger in your niche who doesn’t accept guest posts, start building a relationship by commenting on their blog. Broach the idea of a guest post after you’ve built trust.
Create A Widget: Medium Value
People love to add widgets to their websites. Again you could take the volume versus relevance approach with widgets. When you create a highly relevant widget (Web MD widget example) it’s bound to end up on contextually relevant, but fewer websites.
The downside to widgets is that some webmasters may remove the link. One way to relieve their angst about sending traffic to your site is making the link open in a new tab using the target=_blank” attribute.
Creative Commons License For Content – Medium Value
People love to share and repurpose content on the web. With a creative commons license you can state how you’d like to be attributed when people remix your original work.
All content, including video and pictures is fair game. I’ve had success providing old catalog photography to the Flickr community under a CC license. The pictures have been used in a number blog posts, and Photoshop tutorials.
Social Bookmarking: Low to Medium Value
Primarily, social bookmarking sites are better used for traffic generation, which requires an active base of followers. However, a number of these sites are do follow which make them good candidates for backlinks.
Do-follow social bookmarking sites:
Create Something Unique To Your Site – High Value
Link Building Conclusion
Link building is critical to the success of an SEO campaign. Gaining the necessary backlinks is only limited by your imagination. As I test out new ideas I’ll keep adding additional link building tips to this list. In the meantime, let me know what’s worked for you in the comments section!