There is no quick and easy way to build links. If something is quick and easy, it’s almost guaranteed to be worthless. Building links is no different. Before going any further, you should understand the difference between FOLLOW and NOFOLLOW links. If you’re unsure, “What are DoFollow links? What is NoFollow? Remove the mystery” should help you understand.
Unless you are using a Firefox plugin – such as SearchStatus or SEO For Firefox, you would never know that many of the links you click on during your time online are NOFOLLOW links. Just because a link is NOFOLLOW doesn’t mean it holds no value. NOFOLLOW links from sources like StumbleUpon, Digg and Twitter still hold a great deal of value due to their potential to drive traffic. They aren’t, however, useful for increasing a site’s inbound link count.
Directories – Easy to Get, but Low Value
Keep in mind that the easier a link is to get, the less value it will hold in the grand scheme of things. What do I mean by that? Online directories are a great example. There are thousands of directories and a decent percentage of them offer free submission. It can take several weeks for a link to appear as a result of a free submission, but they’re not hard links to obtain.
Many directories also offer a few paid options, typically ranging from a few bucks up to about $20 for a basic link. You’re not paying for the link – you’re simply paying to jump to the front of the line and have your link added to the directory faster. So, the moral of the story – if the link is easy to get, it’s on the low end of the totem pole of value.
Social Media – Great Traffic Sources, and Some Link Popularity Too
The popularity of social networking has led to the development of a seemingly endless number of sites with a social focus. While many of these, like Digg and StumbleUpon, employ NOFOLLOW links, some – like Reddit – don’t use exclusively NOFOLLOW links. That said, not only do links from these sources have the potential to drive visitors directly from the sites themselves, but links from them also count toward your site’s overall inbound link count.
Keep in mind that it is not only the sites themselves that can provide you with much needed inbound links. The profiles you set up on them often include links to your website that have FOLLOW links. BrightKite, Technorati, and Identi.ca profiles, for instance, all provide FOLLOW links.
Blogs – Become Part of Your Industry’s Online Community
As long as inbound links and PageRank play such a significant role in ranking, building links back to your site or to individual posts on your blog is essential. Laying the ground work for future link building possibilities and enticing others to link to you of their own accord is all about building relationships.
Don’t underestimate the value to being active within the blogs and forums that cater to your industry or complimentary industries. While many blog comment sections incorporate NOFOLLOW links by default, many do not. Even the NOFOLLOW comment links hold value – particularly if you’re commenting on a highly trafficked blog – but only blogs that use FOLLOW links in the comments sections will increase your site’s number of inbound links.
There are plenty of blogs and forums that use FOLLOW links. Monty’s Mega Marketing, JR’s Internet Marketing Strategies, Court’s Internet Marketing School, Life Learning Today, and Tucson SEO Solutions each provide lists of FOLLOW blogs and forums that you can use to get started.
Here’s a tip – don’t be a tool. If you do nothing but drop links to your site without contributing something useful and worthwhile to the community as a whole, you’ll soon be dismissed as a spammer. Yes, the comments you leave on a blog or forum using FOLLOW links may still help with link popularity, but wouldn’t it be nice if those comments actually encourage people to visit your site or blog, as well.
Remember, building links isn’t just about building links – it is about building relationships and exposing your site to as many potential visitors as possible, then providing those visitors with something of value upon their arrival.
Link Baiting – Enticing Other Sites to Link to You
These are the most difficult links to get. Unlike directory listings, blog comments and social media profiles, you have no real control over these links. You may be able to influence their decision in a variety of ways, including coming right out and asking for the link, but the decision is ultimately in someone else’s hands entirely.
Here are some tips that will help your keep a visitor’s attention and entice others to link to it:
- Make a good first impression. We’ve all heard that before, but the adage holds true online, too. You’ve got a few seconds to make a good impression and that’s it. Problems like broken links and images that don’t load quickly lead to frustration and reduce the chance of someone wanting to link to your site.
- Give people a reason to come back. If your site is made up of five static pages that tell about your business and your products, visitors have no reason to come back or link to you. Provide something of value on a regular basis – like a useful blog post – and people are more likely to come back, as well as link to you.
- Be YOU! Whether you’re a one-person operation or there are 10,000 members on your team, the website should have a personality. People are tired of the same old corporate line of bull, which is why Social Media has taken off like a rocket. People want to deal with people – not corporate entities. Give visitors a glimpse into who you are and they’re much more likely to find something of value worth linking to.
- Don’t be afraid of controversy, but understand the difference between controversial and offensive. You don’t want to shy away from controversial topics because controversy breeds traffic and encourages other sites to link to you. You do, however, want to avoid alienating huge groups of people. Tackling a controversial topic can backfire – approach it carefully and with a clear purpose.