Funny how link building has changed since 2005. Back then SEO link building was very easy and anybody could do it and be successful at it. Strategies revolved around a fill-in-the-blanks style of SEO—directory submissions, press releases, E-Mail marketing, article marketing and text link purchases. Back then, these strategies made sense and they were highly effective at the time. But today, SEO is a very different game than it was just a short five years ago and so has developing inbound links to your site.
Now in 2011, link building has changed significantly as many of the so called cookie-cutter approaches to link building no longer produce the same high level of results and now link building relies on strategies more commonly associated with traditional marketing, networking and public relations.
Search engine marketing professionals need to be very creative in producing content that people feel compelled to link to. Ultimately the success of your link building efforts depends on being able to promote that content in such a way that gets it noticed by those who have self-interest in telling others about it with the ultimate gift of appreciation for your content, a quality link back to your site. This means that any search engine marketer must focus on building relationships with the people who manage authoritative sites and have the power to link to you.
This is the goal of my post and hopefully you will be so kind to link back to me from your site but it should be the goal of your site and any site you perform search engine optimization for as well. But before we start, let’s lay down some foundational principles of effective link building for 2010.
Successful link building strategy can be segmented into three categories:
- Authoritative/On-Topic links — Getting incoming links from authoritative sites is a good thing as it tell search engines your site is important, trusted and deserves to rank highly but to get them from on-topic sites such as another SEO site is much better. I would estimate that it is about 4 times better to get a link from an on-topic site than a non on-topic site. The more links you get from authoritative and relevant sites the better.
- Keyword anchor text links — I can’t stress enough how important this is. Do a search for “leave” on Google. Out of 542 MILLION pages in the index Yahoo and Google are in the top 10. Know why? Most adult sites ask if you are of legal age and under the “no” button usually is a text link that says “leave” and a lot of those links that say “leave” point to Yahoo or Google. This is the power of the keywords in the anchor text. It isn’t always necessary that they (links) come from authoritative sites but it helps and if they do come from less-important sites you’ll also need those authoritative links to complement these second class links you’re utilizing for keyword-rich anchor text.
- Diverse IP links — These are links coming from a wide range of sites spread out over a diverse set of IP addresses. It is important to understand that diverse IP addresses are addresses that do not reside on the same “class C” (the first three sets of numbers in an IP address). Example – IP address 126.96.36.199 and 188.8.131.52 reside on the same “set” or “class” of IP addresses. It is OK to have some links from sites that reside on the same class C but to many links from the same class C and the search engines will think you are up to no good and your site will pay the price. Believe me! For the old SEO dogs out there all I need to say is “Florida Update” and they know what I mean. For all you post 11/16/03 SEOs, the Florida Update was an update that Google did to their ranking algorithm that went after link builders who had multiple websites that all linked back to each other in a mini-net or mini-web. 99.9% of all webmasters who had multiple sites used the same hosting company and thus each of those websites resided on the same class C IP addresses. Now link them all to each other and wham, you were ready to be smacked by the Florida update. What we now call cross linking was the “in” thing to do back then and it whacked all of us out there. In a blink of an eye I saw a 50% decrease in Google organic traffic. Man, did that hurt! It was tough love for sure! Anyhow, diverse IP links help make your overall link profile look more natural and they also help establish your authority by showing the search engines there are many sites that feel your site is valuable enough to link to.
- Locate the authority sites within your niche and get links from them to build your own site’s authority.
- Find blogs and other sites that you can write content for. These are sites that are willing to link back to you in exchange for your contribution. This is a great way to get targeted anchor text links.
- Finally, create some link bait and promote it via the top social media sites in order to get links from a wide range of IP addresses.
I am not going to lie to you, it will not be easy but by integrating and consistently implementing these three complimentary strategies, you’re all-but-guaranteed higher rankings over time. Now what do I mean over time? Well, could be a little as a few weeks or as long as a year. Really, it depends on how competitive the terms you are trying to rank for and the quality of links you get.
So you are all charged up and your ready to get that million links in a day! Uh, no. When building links, it’s important to avoid sudden large inbound link count increases. This can look suspicious to search engines. A general rule is to add links at a rate of no more than 10-15% of your overall incoming links per month.
For example, if your site currently has 400 incoming links, you’ll want to limit the number of links you add in a month to roughly 40-60. Certainly there’s some flexibility in that number. What’s really important is that you present a steady natural-looking link growth rate to the search engines.
Consider also the rate at which a site has traditionally added links. New sites can get away with adding links faster, since they haven’t yet established a pattern of link growth. Likewise, sites that have already been adding links at a fast pace can continue to do so. However, an established site which has traditionally added links slowly should strive to stay within that 10-15% per month rule.
Now let’s build some links!
Directory submission has faded in importance over the years, but there is still great links in top directories. It will cost you around $800.00 to do this and the majority of them will have reoccurring annual fees but you still can’t beat the bang for the buck. If you haven’t already done so, submit your site to DMOZ (www.dmoz.org), Yahoo (www.yahoo.com), Business.com (www.bussiness.com), Best of The Web (www.bestoftheweb.com), GoGuides (www.goguides.com) and JoAnt (www.joant.com).
You should get between 5 to 30+ links from these directories overall and they’ll be nicely spread out over many unique domains, with most coming from Yahoo’s international subdomains. Most importantly, these links will be considered authoritative from the search engine’s point of view. Although it’s true this link building step isn’t free, it’s an affordable and worthwhile investment for any business looking to lay a solid foundation for an online future.
Next, submit your site to niche directories. These are directories that specialize in your specific industry or niche. Unlike many general directories, niche directories have not faded in importance and still provide valuable links because:
- They’re topically relevant which is a huge advantage and they give search engines a clear picture of what your site is about and how it relates to the other sites in your niche.
- They are often trusted and authoritative resources with great backlinks of their own.
- They are typically overlooked by many of your competitors and this is a great way to gain a leg up on them.
The key to finding great niche directories is to use advanced searches on the search engines such as: “keyword” directory or “keyword” search engine. So for me I would use the following:
“link building” search engine or “link building” directories. You will need to evaluate these sites as not all of them will be worth submitting to but it is a great place to start. A nice place to start looking for these directories is the Internet Search Engine Database (http://www.isedb.com/html/Web_Directories/Specialty_Directories/).
Let’s move on shall we? Google is great for your top keyword discovery and observing who’s ranking in the top 100. The goal is to get as many links from these top 100 sites as possible. The higher PageRank and more topically-related, the better—but go with what you can get. Look at the top sites that are listed and do an advanced link search on Google for each by using the command “link:www.competitorsite.com” (do this without the quotes) or use Yahoo’s Site Explorer (http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/) . Why? Because the sites that link to the sites that are ranked well for your keywords are frequently good authoritative sites to get links from. If these sites have a ‘links’ or ‘resources’ page that is accepting suggestions for sites to list, go ahead and ask them if they’ll add your site to that page. If not, see if they have a blog or a section with articles or tutorials on their site. Then contact them and see if you can contribute an article or blog post to their site. This is often referred to as guest blogging, and many sites are open to it if you can provide them with good content. I bet you can guess how to find guest blogging opportunities but do a search on Google for “keywords” “guest blogger” and you will find what your looking for.
So what can you expect? About one link per article or blog post you contribute to another site. You may be able to embed several links to yourself within the content of that article if it’s fine with the site publishing your content. You’ll have to see what they’re comfortable with. Don’t push the SEO angle too heavily. Just provide them with great content and let the rest take care of itself. Just remember when guest blogging, don’t just republish existing content from your own site. Write something unique instead, and keep the content on your site separate from the content you create for other sites. You don’t want the same content appearing on multiple sites, because all but one copy will get filtered from the search results because of duplicate content and you won’t get credit for links embedded in that filtered content.
Creating a blog on your domain and submitting it to the top blog directories is a nice way to get the links flowing. Not only can creating and promoting a blog be a great way to build links to your site, it also allows you to get listed in directories you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. Make sure you have the blog up and running for a few weeks with regular posts before submitting to the blog directories. This will minimize the chances of it being rejected. I recommend setting up your blog on a subdirectory of your site (franksgolfworld.com/blog) instead of on a subdomain or a separate domain as the incoming links are less likely to benefit your main site. I would also recommend using WordPress as your blogging software and using the very SEO friendly “Thesis” theme from DIYThemes (http://diythemes.com/). Shoot for at least 3 posts per week published. If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas for blog posts, set up Google Alerts (http://www.google.com/alerts) for your top keyword phrases and use published articles (please give a link back to the original author) and add your comments or view points.
Expect around 6-10 links if you just submit to blog directories but if you’ve got a great blog, the sky’s the limit, as you’ll find many people will link to your content if it’s good.
Last but not least, creating “linkbait” articles (link this one) and publish it on your site. Then submit it to each of the top social media sites such as Facebook, Myspace, Linkedin, and Twitter. Some of the easiest content to produce are articles formatted as lists. Articles like “Top 7 SEO Tips” or “26Search Engine Optimization Tools You Must Have” are good examples of this.
The key to succeeding in social media is to build a large Friends network that you can use to help promote your content. I know plenty of ”SEO” companies that have near zero organic placement but do a very good job on social media marketing and thrive! If you can do a good job on social marketing your link building results will be so effective it’s likely to relegate your other link building strategies to the back burner.
Now you’ll just cycle through the process of creating linkbait articles, publishing them to your blog, promoting your content through social media, guest blogging and writing articles for other sites in exchange for links, and finding other ways to build relationships with the top ranking sites for your keywords so that they’ll link to you.
It’s extremely likely you could gain several thousand links before long using this process—primarily dependent on the quality of the articles you publish on your own site and on other people’s sites, and your ability to get those articles seen by the right people.
So we have come to the end and I hope this link building post lays the foundation for all of your future success. Your next step is to build a solid business atop of this foundation while integrating and incorporating all of the link building tools, techniques, and strategies at your disposal. Work hard and enjoy! I hope you have enjoyed this post and welcome your comments!