In this guide, I shall cover the following topics
- The importance of backlinks (Hint: It is not Google alone)
- Links can get you penalized. Things to keep in mind while building links
- Not all links are equal: What determines the importance of a backlink
- Types of links
- How to get free backlinks from
- Pages that allow you to submit links
- Dofollow blogs
- Dofollow social bookmarking site
- Dofollow Forum
- Dofollow social bookmarking
- Directory Submissions
- Article Marketing
- CSS Gallery/ Wallpaper Gallery etc
- Blog Review site
- How to get more value from your existing links
- Link Baiting: How to write posts that will get links on their own
- Link Tracking: Find who links to you and to your competitor
- Some blackhat and greyhat methods for building links
The importance of backlinks – Trust, Traffic, Reputation and even more links
If you read SEO blogs, then there is a good chance that you have formed an opinion that backlinks are important for ranking well on Google alone. That is a misconception and that is the reason why we see many newbies trying to spam rather than build links that will be appreciated by everyone. Relevant Backlinks have helped me to
- Build trust quickly: There are a number of blogs out there. It becomes really difficult to know which one to trust. Recently Niharsworld linked to one of my posts about keyword difficulty analysis. I am sure people who visited my blog through Nihar’s blog, would have found it much easier to trust what I was saying.
- Get direct Traffic: My blog post about the top 250 Indian blogs was linked from several high traffic blogs including DevilsWorkShop, Abhisays and Indiblogger. Those links brought in a lot of traffic to me.
- Build a reputation: I have been a frequent poster at the Indiblogger forum. While answering many questions, I have linked to my posts. However more importantly I have developed a really good reputation with many regular visitors there. I will not trade that trust for any amount of search engine traffic.
- Get even more links: That is right. Links get you even more links. You may write really interesting posts. But if noone reads it, then noone can link to it. Also remember that when someone links to you, he is recommending you to his readers. He will never do it unless he is sure that you can be trusted. So Trust, Traffic and Reputation are not some nice but useless medal but they are the primary requirement to get links.
Links can get you in trouble – Things to look out for while building links – Diversity and Velocity
After reading this post, you may get tempted to go out and get 100 PR5 links with the exact anchor text of “make money online”. You are confident to get a pagerank 9 and rank at the top for the highly competitive word. Only to realize that your pagerank has gone down to 0 and your blog is no where to be found on Google!!!!!!!You have been penalized by Google.
Please understand that Google is trying to identify great content by counting the links. You building 1000s of links says nothing about quality of your post. You are confusing Google and hence Google hits back by throwing you out of its index. Does it mean you should not create links for your own blog? Hell No. Build links by all means (that is why you are reading this post neways) but do so in a manner that looks natural.
There are 2 important signals to identify artificial link creation – 1. Velocity of link acquisition and 2. Diversity of your links
Velocity of link acquisition: How does a normal good quality blog get its links. It always starts with a single link, then in sometime someone else finds it and gives him a link. As more and more people discover your great content, you start getting more and more links. What if some 5 months old blog gets 100 links over 7 days? Either it has done something very spectacular or something fishy. It is more likely that the blogger has gone around dropping his links on all the forums, social bookmarking sites and blog comments or someone buying links. Try to build links so that it looks as natural as possible. Start slow and Gradually build up the speed.
Diversity Natural links differ. They differ in the pagerank of the linking page and the anchor text used. If you produce a great article, some bloggers with PR 1 and some others will write about it. Some will link to it with anchor text of “click here”, some others will use your blog name and some will use “make money online”
What happens if you get hold of 100s of dofollow blogs, sorted by pagerank? You select the highest pagerank blogs and start commenting with the “make money online” as the keyword. This lack of diversity can tell Google that there is something not natural there and your site can get penalized.
To summarize, take it slow and mix up your link. Get some PR 0 links and some PR 5 links. Use click here in some links, your blog name in some other and the keyword in some of them. If you have to go with one learning from this post then it should be “build links that look as natural as possible”.
Not all links are equal: What determines the importance of a backlink
Dofollow or nofollow: This is the most important factor since nofollow links count for nothing.
Strength of the page (PR) on which link is present: The PR is one of the most important factors affecting the value of the link. However many people make the mistake of overrating the importance of this factor. I have seen many examples where 2 properly designed PR3 links have given a higher ranking boost compared to a PR5 link. So try to get high PR links but do not obsess over pagerank
Anchor Text of the link: This is one of the most underestimated part of a link. A proper anchor text is absolutely important especially if you are targeting a particular keyword to rank for.
Total number of links on the linking page: If the linking page has 100 outgoing links, then the value to each page goes down. Hence you should prefer to get links from pages with not many outgoing links on them.
Age of the link: To discourage spammers, Google does not give 100% benefit of a link to the target page immediately. The value of a link increases over a period of time and reaches maximum value anywhere between 3 to 6 months after the links was first discovered.
Contextual relevance of the page to the Target page: I had talked about my attempt to rank for keywords related to sample resumes. Now if I place a link to my freshers sample resumes page from this page about link building, then google will give lower importance to the link than if I had written a complete post about sample resumes and then from there linked to sample resumes site
Contextual relevance of text around the link: If you see the example above, I have atleast talked about sample resumes in the paragraph surrounding the links to the sample resumes site. In my experience that trick alone gives a decent boost to the power of the link.
Type of link: Type of link is so important to the power of link that I have discussed it in detail in the entire section below.
Donace has done a great job of explaining the importance of different factors of a link.
Types of Links
As you go through the various methods for building links, you will realize that some methods like blog commenting, social bookmarking are way too easy while a method like link-baiting is 1000s time more difficult. Then why do people bother with creating link-baits? The answer lies in the type of link that you end up getting through the different methods.
- Dofollow/ Nofollow links: Nofollow links are the ones where the webmaster is effectively saying to the search engine that they are not vouching for the quality of the target page. These links are found in the comments of the blogs, forum signature etc. They contribute the least or nothing at all to your ranking. We shall be talking about dofollow links in the rest of this article.
- Internal Links/ External Links: Internal links are links from pages on the same domain and External links are links from some other website. So if I link to an article on Binaryday from this post then it will be an internal link, whereas if I link to an article from DollarShower, that will be an external link. Many articles about link building talk about external links. While external links are important for improving the Google’s trust on your site, internal links can help particular pages on your site. (I shall cover more about internal links in my article about pagerank sculpting)
- Editorial links: These are the links that are provided to you from within the body of the article. So articles that I link from this article will be editorial links. They are the most valuable links as people link to only the best articles from their content. However such links normally suffer from non relevant anchor text as the person linking to is not worrying about your ranking and hence ends up using click here or your blog name as the anchor text.
- Sitewide links: These are the links that are present on each page of the blog/ site. Think of the links from blogroll or footer of a blog. While such links increase the quantity of links to your site, search engines generally put very less value on such links. Given a choice I will always opt for a single editorial link from a site rather than 1000s of sitewide links.
- Links not in control of bloggers: There are many places from which you can get dofollow links. However the links are not given by the webmaster but rather it is given by the person who is getting linked. Continuing with the example of Nihar’s link to me, the link in the body of the post is an editorial link. However the link to my blog post that I have provided in the comment is not an editorial link. Even if it were a dofollow link, it will not add as much value as an editorial links.
So the answer to the question that I asked at the top of this section i.e “why people worry with link-baits while it is possible to get equal quantity of links through other methods like commenting on blogs or social bookmarking” is that “link-baits typically get you editorial links whereas other methods give you sitewide links or links outside editorial control”. As I said, I will swap 100 links for a single editorial link.
Methods to get free and relevant backlinks
1. Try the following search on google to get pages that allow you to add your links. Replace keyword with your keyword
“keyword” “Add link” OR “Add site” OR “Submit Site” OR “Add URL” OR “add a site” OR “add your site” OR “add a URL” OR “add your URL” OR “suggest a site” OR “suggest a URL”.
2. Dofollow blogs, social bookmarking sites and forums: Everyone advises us to comment on dofollow blogs to get free backlinks. However how do I find dofollow blogs? Simple. Just search for “dofollow blog search” to find a number of search engines based on dofollow blogs. However not all of these blogs continue to be dofollow. Hence do check manually before you start to comment.
Bonus tip: I always prefer to comment on dofollow blogs that have commentluv and top-commentator plugins installled. That way I end up getting 3 links for a single comment!!!
3. Get a free backlink from delicious http://raven-seo-tools.com/blog/311/creating-dofollow-links-on-delicious
4. Use Twitter to get a free PR 4 backlink http://www.dailyseoblog.com/2009/02/twitter-can-help-you-get-backlinks-yes/
Get more out of existing backlinks
I am constantly surprised by how little attention bloggers pay to the existing links. If your blog has been around for more than a year, then you will be surprised by the increase in ranking, that you can get by simply optimizing the already existing backlinks.
5. Change the anchor text of your existing link to something more relevant: Many people link to your pages with your name or the name of your website. There have been number of times when people mention my blog as via binaryday, binaryday said etc. Since anchor text is one of the most important determinant of the value of a link, you will do well to find out all those pages and then try to contact the webmaster and ask him to change the anchor text to something more relevant. Here is a simple google query that gets me all the pages that are linking to binaryday with binaryday in the anchor text. “allinanchor: binaryday -site:binaryday.com”. Once I have identified these pages, I need to find out ways to contact the owners and ask them to change it to a keyword of my choice.
6. Sometimes people mention your blog or your name without a link to your blog. It is easier to convert these mentions into a link to your blog. To find pages where people have mentioned binaryday without linking to the blog, I use the following search query on Google “binaryday -allinanchor: binaryday -site:binaryday.com”
7. Convert 404 errors into valid backlinks: How dare I speak on a topic, once Matt Cuts has discussed a topic related to SEO? So here is the article from the master about how to convert 404 error pages into free backlinks
8. Add strengths to page linking to you: This is the only original idea of mine. It is difficult to get links from high pagerank pages with tons of links. So I try to get links from low pagerank pages and then use my knowledge of SEO to improve the strength of the page. Simply get it a bunch of free links from dofollow blogs, forums or social networks. Digg it, stunble it or twit it, thereby increasing the chance that the page will pick up some additional backlinks.
P.S: I am going to be updating this post with details over the next 15 days. Let me know if you will want me to cover any other topic related to link building here.