We’ve discussed on-site search engine optimization in great depth – including some of the different adjustments you can make to your webpages to make them more appealing to search engines – but these techniques are only half the battle.
Off-site optimization is just as important in getting your site ranked well in the search engines results. Off-site SEO techniques revolve around the links that point to your site from other webpages. These links back to your site are commonly called backlinks (or external links).
The thing is, if your site has no links pointing back to it from other sites, then it doesn’t look very popular. Google wants the best sites ranking high. They believe very strongly that there’s a direct correlation between popularity and the best sites.
In fact, Google’s entire early algorithm was based on the idea of popularity (which was known as PageRank). Currently, PageRank is only one of many factors incorporated into their algorithm, but it’s still important.
You still need these external links.
Link building is hardly a precise art, as there are a number of factors that the search engines take into account when measuring the strength of the backlinks to your site. These include the number of links, the quality, the anchor text of the links, and all this in comparison with each other.
In addition, search engine algorithms change frequently, so the factors they give weight to now could change without warning. But, it’s definitely safe to say that building backlinks from quality sites is a sound strategy when it comes to search engine optimization, now and in the future.
What links count the most and how can you get them?
Since link building is not the most fun activity around, it’s important to know what’s going to have the biggest impact on your site (now and next year).
Although they’re harder to get, the best links are those given by real webmasters who want to point out a page on your site. The best way to get real webmasters to link to you is by offering something useful and valuable on your page (or pages).
That’s Where Great Content Comes In
I like to call it Magnetic Content, but you can call it great content too.
Great content can come in just about any format, whether it be an image, audio, video, or text-based. It can also be a web application where your page actually does something. All this is possible. The main factor is there should be some usefulness to your content and your pages.
So great content is going to help you out. It’s not enough by itself though, you do need to optimize it for keyphrases people are actually searching for (as shown in our on-site optimization tutorial) and promote it on your own.
Here are just a few types of content when executed well, people find valuable. Creating less content that is more valuable and useful is a better strategy than mass producing low quality content.
- Industry report
- Case studies
How Can You Start Getting Links?
Here I’ve put together several different methods you can choose to jumpstart your link building campaign. Remember you’ll see the best results if you aim for links from quality sites. Any of these tactics can be used in a manipulative way, but Google is getting better at spotting that (and will likely continue to get better as time goes on).
A great way of getting backlinks to your blog/site is to be a guest contributor on a site that is in a related industry . Many blogs that will allow you to write a guest post. And they’ll include something at the beginning or end of the post such as: “This is a guest post written by Your Name. He/she currently has his/her own blog about “Insert Your Link Here.”
By including this link, you can get another backlink to your site to help you with your link building campaigns.
Another benefit of guest posting is the increased traffic. If you’re able to write a great post (all of your link building efforts should be built around providing solid content for your visitors) then you will have people clicking on your link in the introduction or at the end of the post, thereby sending targeted traffic to your website.
Guest posting also helps to increase your authority in a given field. If someone likes what you wrote on a guest post they found, and if they like what you write on your blog/site, they may invite you to guest post on their blog, therefore gaining you more backlinks and even more traffic. It can be a viral effect if you write well and provide something valuable to the readers of your blog and the blog that you guest post on.
And remember, it’s not just blogs that accept articles from guest contributors, many sites, no matter how they’re built offer opportunities for you to send in content.
High Quality Directories
The best directories to get links from are those that don’t accept just anyone’s site. Maybe there’s an industry directory for your market or one that only let’s in the highest quality sites. Here at the Yahoo Directory we can see that you pay a fee just to have your site considered. They aren’t accepting everyone:
Directories like that (that use editorial discretion) are useful for getting links from.
Many sites have small directories on them. These are more like a list of important sites. And it will serve you well to get your site listed on as many of these as possible. Things to look for are pages that only allow exclusive sites (those that are relevant and of high quality) a listing.
Sometimes it’s not even just a list of sites, but a list within an article. If you’re selling tropical fish equipment you’d want to be listed on a page with an article that lists sites selling tropical fish equipment. Often you can email the web owner and tell them about your site and why you think it will benefit their readers if they list you in the article.
Directories or pages that accept anyone are not going to help you out as much at this point. Google doesn’t want to count these types of links in their algorithm as they aren’t an indicator for the ‘real popularity’ of a site.
The best & easiest types of sites to get links from:
- Sites in your industry or market
- Sites linking back to your competitors
- Chamber of commerce or other business and industry sites
- Libraries with links pages
- Schools with links pages
- Articles with lists that you could be included in
Get Out There
The more people who see your site, the more chances you have for them to link to it. This includes:
Forums are an obvious choice, because forums that allow signatures are great and widely used. Just be sure that if you are using a forum signature, that you aren’t spamming with it. Don’t choose the biggest font. Also in forums, in the contact details, sometimes they ask for your homepage, so that is a great place to put your link. Also, “Location:” is another great place. Although “Location:” doesn’t provide any backlinks, it’s just another advertising tool. Also, use your avatar space to have a graphic that has your URL on it.
Is your link on your facebook profile? Is it on your tricked out Twitter page? If not, why not? Show your friends and others your website, and they will go to your site which means more traffic for you.
Although this method doesn’t have any link building benefit, this is a great way to increase traffic. If you are e-mailing and networking with people in your industry, then they will see your link in the e-mail and go to your site.
Ask your email list or newsletter (if you have one). Follow up with your list. Keep letting them know about useful stuff you put on your site. Some of them may link to you for it.
Wherever Else You Have an Online Presence
Just think of the places that you visit, and while you’re there, think if you have a way to add your link (whether you get a dofollow link from them or not).
Further articles in the SEO Tutorial: