Many people believe that the purpose of getting external links is to drive traffic directly from site to site. While this possibility shouldn’t be overlooked, it’s also important to understand that search engines look to the number of links pointing to a site as an indicator of how much “authority” or “trust” they should give the site.
Link popularity helps search engines determine the relevance of your site. They look at not only the number of incoming links you have but also the quality of those links. Just one link from a highly trusted source can be more valuable than 100 links from questionable or low quality sources.
You might have heard about Page Rank; this is Google’s way of assigning a value to the number and quality of incoming links a site has. A higher page rank doesn’t guarantee that you’ll be at the top of the search engine results but it’s higher numbers are a good indicator that your site has been deemed trustworthy and relevant. When looking for links, all other factors being equal, it’s better to be linked from a site with a higher Page Rank.
1. Submit your site to the major directories. A link from one of the key or major directories will give you a big boost in your ranking. These directories are lists of websites organized by category and are maintained by human editors so they have much more weigh with the search engines.
The Open Directory Project (dmoz) is free, however the editors have an enormous backlog and it can take several months for your site to be included. A link from dmoz carries a lot of weight however there is no guarantee that your site will be included.
The Yahoo Directory is another important directory; however it costs $299 to submit a listing with a recurring $299 fee every subsequent year to keep the listing. Being listed in this directory can be a major boost for your site and as there is a 7 day turnaround on submissions, it might be worth it for you to pay the fee to get your site listed in a major directory without delay.
2. Submit your site to other directories focused on your industry or niche. Do a search for organizations and sites related to your field or niche and ask to be included on their member directories. Sometimes this will incur a charge or a membership fee so carefully weigh the potential boost against the cost. Do not pay for an upgraded or premium listing unless you know that the directory is widely used as often they aren’t and the free link is sufficient to get you noticed by the search engines.
3. Ask for reciprocal links from related sites. You’ll want to be careful about this strategy, it works best when you request links from sites that are in a similar niche and have similar traffic and page ranks. Larger sites most likely won’t want to bother and you will give more than you gain from smaller sites.
When asking for the link, be polite and professional and don’t be offended if your request is ignored or declined. Think carefully about where you’ll put the links, you don’t want to send your visitors away from your own site. A good option is to make a page for “resources” or “related sites” and stick your reciprocal links there.
Only request and accept links from sites that are logically related to your own. The search engines will determine your relevance by the kinds of sites that are linking to you as well as the kinds of sites you are link out to, so be picky. Getting reciprocal links can be time consuming and tedious but the results will pay off in time.
4. Write articles or guest posts for other sites. Article marketing is a time honored way of getting attention and links to your site. You can either go with an established articles site such as ezine articles or approach individual site/blog owners and offer them free, relevant content for their sites in exchange for a link to your site including a description of what you do (Myblogguest is the most convenient and effective way to do this). It’s best to place articles with a variety of sources as the search engines prefer a variety of links rather than several from just one source.
Providing content to other sites not only provides you with valuable backlinks but will also increase your visibility and authority within your niche.
5. Send out press releases. News releases aren’t just a good way to send out information about what is going on with your business; it’s also a good way to get links. Your news story will remain in online databases for several months, complete with your link. There is also the possibility that other sites will write about your release, providing another link. There are several online press release services such as PR Web that can distribute your release online and help you get those backlinks.
6. Use social bookmarking sites. While many bookmarking sites use a no-follow attribute to try and keep the levels of spam down, it’s still a worth your while to encourage your visitors to bookmark your pages if they find them useful or entertaining. The more votes your page receives; the more people will check it out and increase its popularity. On some sites, the no-follow attribute is removed from your link after it’s reached a certain number of upvotes.
The more your page is viewed, the more chances you have that somebody will link it on another site such as a blog or mention it on a social networking site.
7. Develop a free resource. A great way to encourage people to organically link to your page is to provide a free, useful resource. It can take time and money to develop a resource like an eBook or calculator but you’ll be paid back with an increase in traffic and links. Your resource should be relevant to the purpose of your site and you should be sure to make it easy for visitors to explore other areas of your site from the resource page. It’s no good giving away free resources if there is no way to gain conversions from it.
It’s important to remember that linking strategies take time. In fact, getting too many links too fast is a warning sign to most search engines and they might delay indexing your site for awhile if they get suspicious that you’re engaging in fishy behavior. Slow and steady link building will give you better results in the long term so be patient and don’t try to do too much all at once.