Link building has long been the staple dietary topic for SEO and Internet marketing experts, but with good reason. This is hardly ground breaking news but having a powerful link profile will help you to rank well in the search engines.
Having an especially powerful link profile will also drive traffic directly to your website.
As the webmaster of a new site, there are several things you must do. First, you need to create a genuinely useful website filled with equally useful and informative content. You need to ready yourself to add fresh content on a frequent basis, in order to retain existing site visitors and to attract the search engine spiders.
You also need to start building links – a good link profile takes time to develop so it is essential that you start as soon as possible. Below are some of the more and less effective methods of building quality inbound links to your new website.
Create quality content
OK, we've already mentioned this in passing, but it's important. Linkable content will get linked to (eventually). You may not have the traffic base to command links organically in this way yet, but you will do soon. Unique, informative, and even controversial content will ultimately see other sites willing to link to your own.
Video marketing has become especially popular because of its viral nature. You can create a good video clip, embed it into a page of your site and include "email to a friend" links. Also ensure that it is well branded so that everybody knows where the video first came from.
Free directory submissions
You should submit your site to a lot of web directories over time. If your domain is brand new then you should attempt to limit the amount of submissions you make in the first month. Google is believed to penalize sites that build too many links too quickly in this way. However, free directories can take days, weeks, or even months before they get round to accepting your submission so do start early.
As well as general category directories for your search engine link profile, you should research industry specific directories. These will also help your search engine ranking, but they can drive excellent levels of targeted traffic to your site. Consider paying some of the bigger and more influential directories for an annual submission.
Paid directory submissions
Free directories typically only allow you to link to the main page of your website, but most also allow you to choose the title of your link. This gives you the opportunity to build your links according to your keywords, which is an essential component of link building for search engine rankings. Paid directories, on the other hand, also usually allow deep linking to individual pages of your website.
Consider paying for one or two annual subscriptions to the better directories. Yahoo is perhaps the most expensive at $299 per annum but it commands a lot of respect and a lot of traffic. Business.com isn't much cheaper ($199) but is almost on an equal footing. Less expensive directories include Best Of The Web and Uncover The Net.
Join forums and post relevant comments
Forums are, in reality, becoming less popular. The advent of the oft discussed web 2.0 means that the forum is seen as something of a dying trend. However, a lot of people do still use them and they do offer the opportunity to garner your website with some traffic and provide you with signature links.
Join forums that are relevant to your industry, create a signature link using your more important keywords and then browse. Find topics that genuinely interest you, or areas where you can offer assistance. Post comments, without linking to your site, and rely on your signature link to do the rest. If you provide genuine, helpful information then you may find that you pick up some very interested leads along the way.
You don't get anything if you don't ask. Find relevant websites, though not in direct competition to your own site, and request a link. Point out a particularly useful section of your website content that is easily linkable and offer the HTML code to provide a link.
This isn't, in all honesty, the best way to spend your linking time. It can take many attempts with various websites before you get an acceptance and a link to your site. Webmasters will usually link to sites they have genuinely found themselves, or else sell their advertising spaces. Alternatively, they may only link to other sites within their own network.
Tagging and social bookmarking
So, you've read all about social bookmarking and tagging, but don't know how it can help your site? Well, the principle is fairly simple – join the social bookmarking sites, create a list of useful sites including one or two of your own, and then publish them. Some search engines are known to be particularly fond of using links found in this way. Also, if your list is genuinely useful then you should find some traffic diverts to your own site as a result.
Find blogs that are relevant to your industry and your site and sign up. Most blogs provide the opportunity to link to your site via your name so pick a name that includes relevant keywords. Like forums, only post relevant content and comments. Answers like "me too" do not count. If you don't have something valuable to add, then don't add anything, and move on to the next link building venture, please!
Write articles, or have them written for you, and submit them to syndication websites. GoArticles and EzineArticles are among the more popular syndication sites and the article pages typically rank well. You have the opportunity to include two biographical links with most article directories, and these should point to the relevant pages on your site and include keywords as the anchor text.
Article syndication is a very good method of building links, but only if you can create article content that is appealing to visitors and to webmasters. However, one good article could generate many links and hundreds or even thousands of visitors to your website.
Offer content to other sites
This is similar, although more specific, than article syndication. Contact webmasters of websites that operate in the same industry as you. Offer unique content in exchange for a link or links to your website. Again, if you can write well, then you shouldn't find it too difficult to find an avenue for publication of your work.
A lot of sites actively look for submissions in this way, so keep an eye out when you are next browsing the web.
Press release submissions
Press releases have been around a long time, and are still going fairly strong online. Again, press releases offer the opportunity to drive interested traffic to your website and some PR wires allow authors to include links to their website. PRLeap and PRWeb are among two of the more popular and beneficial sites to submit your PR to.
I find myself sitting on the fence when it comes to reciprocal links. Once upon a time, a reciprocal link campaign was the most popular way of building links. You exchange links with another website and you both benefit. They do still have their place, if you can negotiate a well placed link on a relevant website with a lot of traffic. However, in terms of SEO, reciprocal links are known to have been devalued by the search engines. Consider every reciprocal link opportunity based on its own merit and, in most cases, ignoring the search engine optimization possibilities.
Don't spam blogs and forums
Above, we have detailed a couple of link building methods that include posting on forums and blogs. Please, don't spam. Spam is the scourge of the online world and something that every site owner could do without. Spamming will make you unpopular, may get your site delisted, and it sure won't make you any friends.
Don't use FFA link farms
A FFA (Free For All) website enables any website owner to place their link on a web page. Don't do it. Search engines despise this practice and you will not gain any benefit in any way from the use of this kind of site.
Avoid any dubious link building practice
If you see a link building opportunity that looks dodgy, ignore it. At best you will waste your time, but at worst your site could be penalized and you may never be able to recover. If it looks too good to be true... you know the rest.