131 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies

By Robin Nobles, Eric Ward, and John Alexander, Guest Writers

This article is excerpted from 131 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies available on the Search Engine Watch web site.

In search engine optimization (SEO), "off page" factors have become more and more important as they relate to rankings. In particular, solid link popularity can literally make or break a site with the search engines.

However, one of the most difficult areas of SEO is building link popularity. Why? Because the engines don't want "artificially created" (or useless) links, so there are no easy ways to build link popularity. The days of link farms and huge link exchange programs are over.

The Purpose of this Article

Because building link popularity is one of the most difficult and time consuming aspects of search engine marketing, we decided to join forces to create a list of legitimate ways you can build link popularity for your site.

What we hoped to do was come up with a list of 101 ideas. Instead, we came up with a list of 131.

Here you'll find a brief excerpt of the article here. Use the link provided at the end of the article to view the entire article online.

Start with the Basics

Here's the simple means to find those good links. Go to the major search engines. Search for your target keywords. Look at the pages that appear in the top results. Now visit those pages and ask the site owners if they will link to you. Not everyone will, especially sites that are extremely competitive with you. However, there will be non-competitive sites that will link to you -- especially if you offer to link back. Why is this system good? By searching for your target keywords, you'll find the pages that the search engines themselves are telling you are good, as evidenced by the fact that they rank well. Hence, links from these pages are more important -- and important for the terms you are interested in -- than links from other pages. (Danny Sullivan with Search Engine Watch) SEARCHDAY NOTE: Search Engine Watch members have access to a long article by Danny explaining both link analysis and appropriate link building in depth.

Who Should You Target?

Go after authoritative sites. Look for vertical engines and directories in your topic areas. Look for popular sites. One or two authoritative sites linking back to you will do you more good than 1,000 irrelevant links. Visit Search Engine Guide and Beaucoup for a listing of vertical engines and directories. (Robin Nobles of the Academy of Web Specialists and Search Engine Workshops)

Work on building rapport with other Webmasters. By building up a "working rapport" with other local Webmasters or affiliates, there are lots of ways that you can mutually benefit by trading links with several similarly themed sites, which are non-competing. Once you start working with other Webmasters, it's surprising what synergies may develop. Remember to give your very best to your fellow Webmasters as these relationships are win/win. (John Alexander with Beyond-SEO.com and Search Engine Workshops)

Become a Content Provider

The bottom line is the easiest most obvious answer. It's also the toughest to do. Give people a reason to link to you. Think about it. Sites get linked to for a reason: usually if they provide the most information or the best resources on a particular topic. Is there any reason WHY people should link to your site? (Michael Campbell with Internet Marketing Secrets)

A very effective strategy to gain quality links as well as traffic is to license content from your site for free in exchange for a link back to you. For example, we encourage anyone to post individual articles or the entire MarketPosition newsletter on their own Web sites so long as they properly credit us for the material and link back to our sites. (Brent Winters with First Place Software)

Be Creative and Visible!

One of our most successful methods for increasing link popularity is to offer "awards" (a gif that links back to our site). We create a strong incentive for the awardee to place the award on their site because the awardee perceives a benefit - he gets to tell the world that another site recognized his site as a quality site. One way we do this at NetMechanic is to offer "Star Performer" awards to Web sites that get 4 or more stars on their site when they run our validator tool over their site.(Chris Churchill of NetMechanic)

Especially for B2B Sites:

A few suggestions to increase external link popularity to B2B sites: Incorporate the requirement to link to your site in all contracts with:

- resellers
- partners
- subcontractors
- vendors

Remember to ask them to put the link on a page that is accessible to search engine robots (not behind password control). It should appear on a page already showing up in results. (Barbara Coll with WebMama.com)

Off the Net Ideas

Make News! Draft a brief press release about something newsworthy at your company. It can be the announcement of a new location, landing a big new contract, speaking at a prestigious conference, or even just announcing a new hire. Then fax or email your press release to all relevant newspapers, to the attention of the Business Editor. You can do a free search at www.gebbieinc.com for the contact information of the newspapers in your region and/or industry. Most newspapers today have a companion Web site and your article will often end up online, adding another new link to your site each time a press release is published. (Susan J. O'Neil with @Web Site Publicity, Inc.)

Extra Tips and Notes

Most search engines index only content in the top two levels of your site. They have no idea that links exist beyond the secondary level simply because they don't search beyond the secondary level. Let's say you have links built to your site from other sites. If these links exist beyond the spiders' allowable depth of travel, they will NEVER be counted. In other words, if you have 5,000 links pointing at your site, but all of them exist on pages beyond the second directory level, a search engine will determine that your site has zero links. This doesn't mean those 5,000 links are useless. Quite the contrary. It just shows that you don't need to obsess over links from a search engine perspective. Links are their own virtue whether a search engine knows about them or not. (Eric Ward, President, NetPOST and URLwire)

Robin Nobles is Director of Training for the Academy of Web Specialists. Her latest books, Web Site Analysis and Reporting and Streetwise Maximize Web Site Traffic, can be ordered through Amazon. Eric Ward founded the Web's first service for announcing and linking Web sites back in 1994, and he still offers those services today. John Alexander is a professional Internet Consultant, SEO and educator who owns and operates Beyond-SEO.com.

This article is excerpted from 131 (Legitimate) Link Building Strategies available on the Search Engine Watch web site.

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