Written by: Lewis Waller (member of WealthyAffiliate.com)
I’ve always had one golden rule when it comes to work:
Quality Content + Maximum Exposure = Long Term Success!
It’s a formula that works every time. And to me, long term success and financial security are a lot more important than short term success.
So how do I put my equation into play?
I always start off with the best content I can. I look at my competitors and ask myself what I need to to do to better them. If you have the best content then you deserve the top spot. If your content is average your success will be harder to maintain. When it comes to SEO, you may be able to link build and article market your way to the top of the rankings, but if your content isn’t the best it won’t stay there naturally. People won’t link to it on their own and the ‘long term’ part of your success will be a lot more difficult.
So first critical and maybe non-apparent aspect of attracting backlinks is to have Quality Content.
Now for maximum exposure, which in my eyes is the harder part…
If you want to have a top site in your niche you need to be at the top of the search engine rankings. This leads to traffic and traffic leads to revenue. So, after the content writing and the web designing, the article marketing and the video creation it boils down to one simple thing – link building.
I still believe article writing and submitting to top ranked directories to be one of the best methods for getting traffic and links to your website. It’s easy, simple and free.
In saying this, I am finding more and more that “on-site” SEO is the most surefire way to get free traffic to your site. So today I’m not going to talk about article marketing. I’m not saying don’t do it! Not at all. I am going to be focusing on “getting website backlinks”, which is different subject. What I am going to talk about is a few free methods I’ve learnt along the way that I hope will make your day to day link building that much easier.
So How Do I Approach Backlinking?
I think of getting back links as an investment. Each one you get adds a little bit more value to your site – that’s my motivation for going and finding them. Yes, link building can be extremely boring and time consuming, but every link you get can be an incremental push towards getting higher Search Engine rankings.
Another motivation I have is to have a goal. Look at your competitors links and have a number in your head of what you want to aim for in say a week, a month, 2 months, etc. A good tool that I use is Yahoo’s site explorer. It allows me to analyse your own and your competitors links (Note: You need to register for a Yahoo account before you use it).
I’ve read countless articles about which back links are ‘relevant’ and which you should be avoiding and everyone has something slightly different to say. I’m going to give my opinion here that is based on my experience. There’s no exact rules so you can use my techniques in paralell with some of your backlinking techniques.
So what exactly should you look for when building links:
- A link from a page that is relevant to yours is worth WAY MORE than a link that isn’t relevant. For example, if you have a dieting site your backlinks should be coming from other dieting sites.
- Page Rank is a factor when getting links. But remember this, Page rank is only good if your backlinks are coming from relevant sites within relevant content.
- In-content links with targeted anchor text are taken in high regard compared to links in footers etc.
- Reciprocal links are almost worthless
- Paid links are worthless. Several Fortune 500 companies have been “red flagged” in Google and lost all of their rankings for buying irrelevant backlinks.
- Nofollow links are NOT worthless (CONTROVERSY)
I know, I know – that last one may be a bit controversial but it’s what I believe. I look at it this way; Google wants to see a steady influx of natural, varied links. KEY: Natural and Varied.
To me that means that hardly any links are worthless (apart from the afore mentioned), I want to see a mixture of links pointing to my site. Low page rank, high page rank, do-follow, no-follow, mostly relevant, some not. Mix it up! If Google saw that you had only links from PR8 websites or only links from article directories it would look unnatural right? So that’s the key for me – Natural and Varied.
You should also consider the number of backlinks that you are getting to your site. If you have too many, it can also make your incoming links look suspicious to Google and thus cause them to red flag your site and in some cases delist. For this I recommend that you follow a page to link ratio. For every page on your site, have a maximum of 2 backlinks. So if you have a 10 page website, get 20 backlinks. As your site grows, you can increase you ratio, but when starting out you want to make sure you are very careful or you will get slammed by Google.
What About Social Media for the Purpose of SEO Rankings?
I’m also going to briefly mention the importance of social media. Twitter, Facebook & Google + are all platforms that you should be taking advantage of and focusing on. Tweets, Retweets, +1’s and Likes are all powerful sharing tools, and when you have a large, loyal following every article, blog post or page that you create on your site will have some serious “share power”. This can lead to links from people who like and want to share your content and these sorts of natural, real links are exactly what you are looking for in your backlinking campaigns.
So make sure you have these plug-ins on all the pages and posts within your site. These are becoming more and more important. If you are using WordPress, I suggest you check out the Tweet, LIke, Google +1 and Share plug-in.
Ok, I know its nothing new but social bookmarking will get you some easy backlinks and speed up the Google indexing process. Different techniques work for different people but I always make sure I submit to at least a couple of social bookmarking sites for every page on my site (link directly to it).
Here’s a good list of Social Bookmarking sites that gets updated regularly:
Of course, you can use automation tools to submit to multiple social bookmarking sites at once. A few of my favourites (everything I mention here will be free) are:
Onlywire’s free service allows you to submit 300 times per month, and once you’ve put in your details for each site you can submit with a couple of clicks at any time. Social Marker works a bit differently but allows you to go through social bookmarking sites one at a time. I prefer Onlywire.
SocialADR is a reasonably new site which has a great idea. You bookmark other peoples sites and they bookmark yours. That way you can get hundreds of people to bookmark your links leading to more exposure on the bookmarking sites.
Social Monkee’s free service allows you to submit your link to 25 social sites in one go. You can do this once a day – very handy!
Using Google To Find Link Opportunities
I use Google to help me find a whole variety of links – Blog comments, Forum discussions and Website directories to name a few. These sorts of links are easily found if you know a few tricks. One of my tricks is using fishforlinks.com.
Fish For Links is a brilliantly simple site that allows you to search Google using a set of predefined queries. All you do is enter your keyword and choose the type of links you want to search for. You can search for blog comments on WordPress, BlogEngine & ExpressionEngine, as well as Squidoo, directory and forum links. An example of one the searches Fish For Links performs would be:
site:.edu inurl:blog “post comment” -“comments closed” -“you must be logged in” “Your Keyword”
This above search will find WordPress blogs that allow comments, will search based on a specific keyword, and is on a .edu site. If you don’t know, relevant backlinks from education sites can give your site a big boost in the search engines.
This is one of my favourite ways of getting a quick link whenever you have a spare few minutes. Some of the searches are better than others and sometimes you’ll have to broaden your search term if your not getting any results. You should also remember that when posting links you should always post ethically – never spam!
There is a set of rules that I have when getting back-links from forums, blogs, and directories:
(1) When Blog Commenting always read the post and always think of something helpful, positive or interesting to say. Remember that a lot of the time your comment will have to be moderated so you’ll just be wasting your time if you post a poor comment.
(2) When Posting In Forums use the same approach. Never just post your link and never just write something like ‘Very interesting, you should check out…’. Add value to the thread and only place a link if its relevant. Forum posting is a touchy subject and a lot of the time your links may be removed. That being said, when it’s done right it does pay off as Forum links can sometimes bring you a lot traffic as well as the link juice. Also utilize your forum profile to drop your website link. This is a good way to get a backlink.
(3) When submitting to Website Directories avoid reciprocal links! I find the sort of niche directories you need are sometimes hard to find, I also find it hard to believe the amount of reciprocal link offers there still are on the net. When searching for directories I sometimes add a few extra parameters to the search query. Remember you can use the ‘-‘ (minus) symbol to add a keyword that you don’t want to appear on the page. I like to take advantage of that by adding words like:
An example of a directory search query would be (more on Fish For Links):
“Your Keyword” intitle:add site -reciprocal -exchange
Using Google Alerts for Backlinks
Another handy tool I like to use is the ‘Google Alerts‘ tool. Google Alerts is a very underused service that you can use to be alerted to new or active discussions related to your keyword – usually forum discussions or blog posts. All you have to do is go to Google Alerts and enter the keywords you want to be alerted about and your email address. Two minutes work for a ton of link opportunities delivered straight to your inbox!
As you can see below, I have set-up alerts for discussions related to “weight loss”. Every day I will be delivered new backlinking opportunities related to the weight loss niche without having to perform any research on my own. A big time saver!
Taking advantage of these free methods will easily help you to get a few extra links everyday, but always remember that golden rule – take action! A little bit everyday will go a long way towards the future of your site. It may be a long haul and it may be hard work but if you keep focused on the end game then you will get there.
I use daily link building tasks to compliment any other promotional work that I’m doing. That is, it’s always going on in the background, even when I’m working on something else. Sometimes I’m a bit slack with it, sometimes I’m on fire! But it’s always part of the strategy. Even getting a new link every day is better than nothing and it takes no time at all to find that link using the techniques I have outlined within this post.
Hope I have helped you all out and if you have any comments or like to add any backlinking techniques that you use, I would love to hear about them.