Popularity contests don’t end in high school. Rather, the importance of being popular stays with us through adulthood. Search engines understand the importance of being popular, and deem those sites more valuable. Link building is an important method to build popularity (and thereby more traffic) for your site. However, in the same way that having 100 nerds like you means nothing whereas 1 friendship with a movie star can make you the most popular kid in school — not all links are created equal, and in the world of link building quality is much more important than quantity.
Black and gray hat SEO methods have influenced search engines and forced them to modify their algorithm about how they view links. Automatic links, such as farm link sites, will not help your site and may actually hinder you if you are penalized. A quality link should be relevant to your site. Likewise, the link should be embedded in relevant content, and the link text should be the keyword you are trying to rank for.
Authority sites such as “.gov” and “.edu” tend to be more worthwhile. Diluted sites with long lists of links are usually not valuable. Nofollow links are links that direct users back to your site, but are not given any credit by the search engines. They are usually used to prevent spammers by sites such as WordPress or Wikipedia. Despite the fact that the link is not credited, Wikipedia is such a popular site that the links still tend to be worthwhile.
Methods to Acquire Links Since search engines try to prevent unnatural link building efforts, it is important to think outside the box for your link building campaign. To begin you link building efforts –
- Post links on directories. Directories that require approval before accepting you tend to be more valuable.
- Use sites such as Digital Point to acquire links from relevant sites.
- Join forums and contribute to them to create targeted direct traffic.
- Create and distribute content that is linked back to you.
- Submit links to social media sites such as Twitter, Digg, and Reddit.
- Distribute press releases when you have something to share. Services such as PR Web charge a fee, but will distribute your release throughout the web, including news sites.
- Research sites to determine their worth by their Page Rank, Alexa rank, number of back links, and date they were founded.
- Check the sites IP address using a tool such as My IP Neighbors if you think sites may be connected, because links will not get “credit” if they are on the same server.
Encourage people to link back to you by creating interesting and useful content with methods such as–
- Post controversial content that can be used as “link bait”.
- Send bloggers or site owners free products that they can review and then link back to your site.
- Find out what is currently trendy by looking at Google Trends or Hotsearches.
- Hold a contest that requires participants and winners to link back to you.
- Sponsor a contest on an authoritative site.
- Create a relevant and useful widget (interactive tool with light coding) that automatically links back to you.
Returning to the metaphor of becoming popular – it is important to take your time when it comes to link building. In the same way that you cannot become popular overnight, link building should occur over an extended time period so that it appears natural. Link building sometimes gets a bad name, but by using these methods, it can be an extremely effective tool to increase traffic to your site.