In the world of search engine optimization quality links are the deciding factor between success and failure. How do you get them?
To paraphrase an old adage: Nothing worth having comes for free. This does not mean that every link should be paid for but rather that finding the best links takes time, effort and sometimes obtaining them takes money.
We have all seen the numerous directory submission sites which will - for a small fee - add your site to hundreds of web directories thereby supplying you with “valuable” back links. The truth is they are a waste of your time and money. Typically, the directories that they submit to have no credibility with search engines. Since the value of the link is a percentage of page rank (which is often 0) divided by the number of links on the page you can easily deduce that these are not worth much (if anything). I have also noted that many of these directories are simply used as lead lists for foreign companies – meaning that once your site is submitted they use the contact information to aggressively spam you. Oftentimes, in an attempt to show you “value” and try to up sell you, they repeatedly visit you site. This way when you check the listing you see it has been viewed “x” number of times – indicating that the directory users are interested in what you are offering. The truth is that these clicks actually hurt your site because the visits are almost always bounces (recent research has shown that Google seems to be using bounce rate as a factor in determining placement).
The first thing every links builder learns is that DMOZ and Yahoo directory listings are golden albeit, DMOZ is not known for expeditious the handling of requests. Yahoo, on the other hand is quick and efficient but, at $300 it is sometimes hard to convince clients of it’s value. I recently read a SEO blog where the blogger indicated that if you don’t have $300 for a Yahoo listing you have no business having a website. Although I do not totally agree with this statement, I do agree that the Yahoo listing is worth the price.
After DMOZ and Yahoo the most valuable sites would be Wikipedia, .edu domains and .gov domains.
Some local government websites offer business listings and it is worth researching if they are available in your area. I have found that a phone call to the local government offices is sometimes an easier way of finding these directories.
Wikipedia has very strict submission rules but, if you have something to add and can follow their guidelines your site will definitely enjoy a boost.
Education (.edu) domains can often be acquired by donating time, resources or items to universities. In addition, some universities regularly update their list of inbound links and provide links back.
To find directories worth submitting to you can visit DMOZ and look at the listed Directory sites. The sites already listed on DMOZ will enjoy higher PR and have already been vetted by DMOZ itself.
Once you are satisfied that you have exhausted the above resources it is time to look at article submissions. There are hundreds of credible article submission sites online – start with about.com, EzineArticles.com and articleinsider.com. Write clear concise articles that are of value to your potential customers. Be sure to have at least one person edit the article before you submit – people will notice spelling and grammatical errors and they will reflect negatively on you. Title the articles using key search phrase like “How to”, or “Easy way to…”, or “Ten Steps” and provide follow up information as it becomes available. Article submissions help web sites build both links and traffic.
Use social bookmarking as much as possible. Sites like Digg, Del.icio.us Popular List, Reddit, Propeller, Stumble Upon offer unique opportunities for links. If you can make the front page on Digg it is almost assured that you will get links from some of the readers. Optimize your submissions in the title phrase and ensure that each submission is of value to the end users not just an opportunity to build a link. Today’s readers are sophisticated and will know the difference.
Link building is an ongoing process. It is meant to show a consistent progression over time. Be patient and you will see the results and, most importantly, continue the process even after the results are obvious.
There are many other techniques used to build valuable links some of which I will present in upcoming articles.