As of right now, back links are the most important factor when it comes to the search engines deciding where to rank your website. In the future that may change, but there is no doubt that back links will still continue to be an important factor in the ranking process. Because of this fact, it is important that you steadily build links leading back to your website. In this post I will talk about a few effective ways to accomplish this including creating Link Bait, Blogging, Press Releases and Article Marketing just to name a few. But, I won’t just tell you to use these techniques I will also tell you how to use them correctly and effectively.
Before I start, we want to make clear that I am not concerned about whether a link has been tagged “nofollow” or not. Research by a few independent SEO firms has confirmed that while PageRank is not transferred through “nofollow” links, overall rankings are affected by “nofollow” links in a positive way. I will address this issue and discuss the studies indepth in a future blog, but in the meantime I want to make it clear that some of the link building tips I will discuss include building links from sites that “nofollow” their outbound links and that I believe this is a non-issue. I believe this because Google built their entire algorithm on the fact that back links were the most important ranking factor. I do not believe that Google intended the “nofollow” tag to be used as widely as it is currently is and they would never allow millions of webmasters to ruin all the work they put into their algorithm by tagging every outbound link on their site as “nofollow.” Google may say that “nofollow” links have no impact on rankings, but I simply don’t believe them based on studies I have seen and simple common sense. In our opinion Google continues to say that “nofollow” links have no affect on rankings in order to keep their intended targets of the “nofollow” tag, spammers, in check, but in reality they allow “nofollow” links to have at least some positive effect on rankings.
Link Building Tip 1: Blogging
Blogging is the easiest and most effective way to gain back links. Not only can blogging lead to back links, but it also is a way to consistently add content to your website, and we all know that Google loves sites that consistently add quality content.
The key to gaining back links through blogging is to make sure that you are blogging about topics that are either directly related to your businesses or field of expertise or that provide useful information for your readers. Once you have found your blogging niche the next thing to do is create an RSS feed and submit both your blog URL and RSS feed to as many blog directories as you can find. I have clients that gain hundreds of back links each and every month simply by blogging on a consistent basis. I recommend that you blog at least once a month, but once a week is even better.
Link Building Tip 2: Press Releases
Press releases are a great way for businesses to gain back links to their sites. There are many free press release distribution sites out there to submit your releases to, but using a paid service like PRWeb can result in hundreds of back links from major news organizations with just one press release. Making press releases a regular part of your link building strategy can result in thousands of quality back links over the course of year.
Your press releases can be about anything that you want related to your business. Whether it is about an expansion, the purchase of new expensive equipment, a fundraiser or sponsoring a local event, a press release is a great way to get the word out about your business as well as a way to gain valuable back links which will help your search engine rankings.
Link Building Tip 3: Article Marketing
Article marketing has been declared dead as an SEO and link building technique many times over and it is still alive and kicking. There are rumors of its demise once again floating around out in cyber space because of Google’s new algorithm update that was released on April 25th. I for one won’t believe article marketing is dead until I see it with my own eyes. It is true that many article sites, such as Ezine Articles, took a hit in the rankings when Google’s Panda was released, but the effects were not fatal and Ezine has since taken steps to ensure that the articles posted on their site are of better quality moving forward.
I ran my own SEO test over the last two months and found that article marketing is still alive and well. I took a brand new site and wrote article after article and posted them on Ezine, Articlebase, Articlecity and others. The articles were the only source of back links I actively perused. The results have been astounding so far. Five out of the six keywords phrases I am currently optimizing for are now on the first page of Google, Bing and Yahoo!. I cannot definitively prove that the sole reason for these rankings are the articles and the links contained in them, but the anecdotal evidence is quite strong and the most important thing is that my site has not been penalized or fallen in the rankings over the last two months. Things could change and I will keep an eye on it and report to all of you if they do, but as of right now, article marketing is alive and well and a great way to acquire back links to your website.
The key to good article marketing is creating informative, original and unique articles. Don’t just write one article and post it on 10 different article sites. Instead, write 10 different articles and post them on 10 different sites. Make sure you use mix up the anchor text of your links as well.
If done right article marketing can result in a ton of quality back links and increased rankings.
Link Building Tip 4: Directories and Review Sites
Using business directories and review sites isn’t the most innovative link building strategy, but it is a proven way to gain back links to your site. These back links aren’t the most valuable, but believe it or not, some of these directories actually get a decent amount of traffic and being listed in them can drive traffic to your site. The amount of people who visit your site is taken into account by Google when they decide where to rank you. Google figures that if a lot of people are visiting your site and spending time on it then your site must have valuable or interesting information on it and they will rank your site accordingly.
When listing your site in business directories start with industry specific directories if they exist for your industry. A few years ago I might have suggested that you submit your site with DMOZ, but now I wouldn’t even waste your time. DMOZ doesn’t carry the juice it once did and there are rumors of corruption and “pay-to-list” schemes going on within the organization. I have submitted numerous sites over the years and only a handful have ever been accepted even though I followed their guidelines exactly. After submitting to industry specific listings, submit your site to any and all local business directories in your area. After that pick a few business directories a week and submit to your site. Over the course of time you will find that you have gained a large number of back links. Once again, these aren’t the best kind of back links, but they are not worthless either and they can drive traffic to your site.
There are a few review sites that I recommend creating a listing for. Manta, Yelp and Angie’s List are the ones I always list my sites and my client’s sites in. Don’t be afraid of negative reviews. If you receive a negative review the best thing to do is find out if it is legitimate. If it is legitimate then your best course of action would be to reply to the comment on the review site and try to minimize the damage. If it is not legitimate you can contact the site administrator and ask them to remove it. You will have to prove it is an illegitimate complaint or they won’t take it off their site. The links from these sites can also drive traffic to your website.
Another benefit of listing your website on sites such as Manta, Yelp and Angie’s List, is the improvement of your Google Places listing. Google Places are ranked using a different algorithm than the one used to rank organic listings. Based on independent research, the consensus is that the most influential determinant of whether or not your local listing will appear in the results is mentions or reviews of your business across the net.
Link Building Tip 5: Create “Link Bait”
“Link Bait” is content on your website that makes people want to link to it on their own. There are many forms of link bait you can choose to incorporate onto your site. Below are a few examples.
1. Well written, humorous and/or informative content.
This one is a no-brainer. If you have well written, informative, compelling and or humorous content on your site people are going to link to it.
Creating fun and interactive widgets and tools is a great way to get people to link to your site. I helped a client of ours develop a BMI and calorie counter widget. That widget has resulted in many inbound links since its creation.
Many people and businesses have a YouTube channel. YouTube is great, but why should you push people to your YouTube channel when you can get them to watch your videos right on your site. By imbedding your videos right on your website you will encourage people to link them thereby gaining back links.
These are just five examples of link building techniques. There are others, but these five are the most effective. In the future I will write about some other effective, but less used link building techniques.
Keep in mind that link building can be a long and time consuming process. Patience is the key when it comes to link building. Don’t take the easy way out and take part in some link building scheme or pay for links. These techniques will only hurt your site in the long run.