The 10 Golden Rules of Link Building
The 10 Golden Rules of Link Building
Today people think of links as the Holy Grail of Search Engine Optimisation, rather like keywords used to be a few years ago. Search engines like Google use the popularity of links and sites to try and rank and evaluate your website. The popularity of links refers to the amount, relevance and quality of inbound links from other sites to yours.
Some people waste a lot of time making links in the wrong way and from the wrong places. The "10 Golden Rules of Link Building" will stop you from wasting time and help you achieve real linking success.
Rule 1: Recognise the value of links
At present and for the foreseeable future, building links and Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are forever 'linked', if you'll excuse the pun. Linking profiles are one of the top ranking factors used by Google, and other search engines like Yahoo! use them. Back in the day, it used to be enough to write lots of keyword-rich content and get the rankings you need. This no longer washes with the likes of Google and Yahoo. This is where links come in.
Rule 2: Link-building begins at home
“What is that supposed to mean? Don't I just ask people to link to ME?”
A classic mistake we see all too often is website owners creating a new site and setting out scrambling for links before they have anything worth linking to! Link building always begins at home, on your own site.
Just take a minute to think. Apart from paid listings and actual directories, who is going to link to a bare-bones site with nothing helpful, unique, interesting, or sticky? If you start looking and asking for links before your site has earned its place on the web, then you're going to have a mountain to climb.
If, on the other hand, you build a website that makes other people, publishers and experts in your specialty or niche say “Blimey, this is a great site and I know some people who would want to know about that” then your link-building will be a walk in the park. It all begins with what you put into your website.
Rule 3: Get the right kind of links
Not all links are the same. We all want lots of links to our site but it's important to put quality before quantity. The site with 10 of the right links is going to get more qualified traffic than the site with 1000 random links. We see it all the time.
A good quality Inbound Link (IBL), the most valuable kind for SEO purposes, is a link that comes from a well-established, content-rich, older site within your specialised area.
Rule 4: Use alternative link text
To make your key phrases more visible and to make your linking profile seem more natural to search engines, try mixing up your link text. For example, instead having a hundred inbound links to our site using the phrase “Powerful Subscription Websites”, we try for broader mix of link text with terms like, “Profit from your knowledge”, and “Online Publishers”.
Rule 5: Find links from everywhere
Links really are all over the place. They are what makes the web a web. Link opportunities are therefore all over the place as well. You can get links by submitting to directories, getting involved in forums, making a blog, publishing articles, sending out RSS feeds ... we could keep going. Your only limit is your imagination, which brings us to the next rule.
Rule 6: Use your imagination
Quick story. We were helping a client with some link building for their site. We thought we had covered everything and had exhausted all options. We had sent out press releases, submitted to directories, published articles, even sent some personalised emails.
We then realised that there were hundreds, maybe even thousands of sites out there looking for exactly the kind of content our client could provide, but not knowing where to look. So we began searching phrases in that particular niche and made a list of websites that provided this content.
Next, we emailed these sites one by one and invited them to use any of the 100+ articles our client had written on the subject. All we asked was that they keep the author's note with a hyperlink. By being proactive with article publishing, we earned more than 25 new and highly relevant links! When you combine premium content or a specialised website with strong imagination, your link opportunities are endless.
Rule 7: Don't waste your time on silly link requests
This better your site, the higher your ranking and the more link requests you'll receive. It's the law of the online jungle. Ignore most of them, as 90% will be just looking to feed off the great rankings you have achieved but will offer nothing in return. In addition, ignore all requests from sites that have nothing to do with your subject area.
Every now and then, however, you will receive a personalised, specific email from another site similar to yours. These will be the 10% worth considering.
Rule 8: Track your progress
If you're serious about SEO, then tracking your progress is vital. There are serious business reasons for this. More importantly, there are morale boosting reasons. You want to know that you are doing the right thing and that your efforts are generating positive results. Keep track of your link building the same way you track your traffic and rankings.
There are a number of online tools that can help you identify links from other websites to yours. Yahoo! Site Explorer is my favourite. You can use Site Explorer (http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com) to quickly and easily find out which websites are linking to yours. You can also export this information into a spreadsheet for further use.
Rule 9: Don't ignore the big picture
Yes, links are a big part of your site's success, but in the same way that Diet Coke will only make you lose weight as part of a calorie-controlled diet, there's a lot more to SEO than just links. In fact, there's a lot more to commercial success online than just links. Make sure you schedule in regular time towards your SEO efforts as a whole and avoid focusing on just one thing. Put aside time for link-building, writing articles, website improvement, development and so on. Don't become so SEO-obsessed, however, that you forget the primary functions and goals.
Rule 10: Sit back, relax and enjoy
The great thing about SEO is it gets easier over time. When you create the right content for the right site up front, you'll be able to increase your visibility with less effort on your part. Most search engines, especially Google, put much emphasis on the age of your domain, your individual pages and the inbound links coming in. Like fine wine and Sean Connery, links get better with age.