I get this query quite often from new webmasters and online entrepreneurs - How do I build links to my website? This guide will help you understand what link building strategies webmasters use building links.
This article is really long (over 2000 words), but I am sure you will get your money's worth :D. I'll even share some specifics. If you don't have time to read it now, feel free to bookmark it or print it out for later reading.
Why Link Building?
Link Building is a process of creating more and more inbound links to ones own website. The site or web page that has more incoming links has more authority in Google organic search results than the site or web page that has less incoming links given all other parameters for ranking the pages for a particular keyword remains the same.
In short if you have more incoming good quality links, you have more authority of ranking higher in Google organic search results. Period.
So if you want to rank your site higher in search engine's organic listing you have to work on getting incoming links to your site.
Apart from search engine benefits links offers lot more benefits if done in the right way. It helps in getting quality traffic from relevant sites and help create awareness, visibility and credibility of your site.
So let me try to explain all the method of getting links to your site. Some of them are White hat, some grey hat as well but I have tried to avoid any black hat method of link building in this guide.
So let us begin.
1. Guest Posts
Backlinks from related authority blogs can help new websites get lot of boost in search engines and guest post is the most effective way to get your site linked from authority blogs. Guest posting happens between a blogger and a webmaster (webmaster can be blogger as well promoting his blog instead of a website) where webmaster writes unique content to be published on the blog and this makes him a "guest blogger" on the authority blog. When webmaster writes unique and good articles for free for their blog, blogger's are more than happy to give you a backlink in the by-line in return for the content.
Guest post by guest blogger mutually benefits both aka the blogger and the webmaster. Blogger gets new and unique content for his blog and webmaster in return for his quality content not only generates related links to his own site / blog but also gets exposure of his website to the audience in the same niche.
The idea for guest posting is not confined only to the link and search engine benefits but also the exposure in the niche using the authority of the blog.
What if the best blog in your target niche does not accept guest posts or is not really keen on publishing your content? Many people outsource the process of finding related blogs to publish articles but what I prefer is use services like SEOLinkVine which helps building links to your website by allowing you to submit your articles to related blogs and get thousands of high quality, one-way in content links pointing to your website. Needless to say, SEOLinkVine costs much less than outsourcing option and provides lot more control on the incoming links. It can help you save time and effort needed to finding blogs and getting them published and still maintaining the same quality.
Update 26th March 2012: Blog networks are being de-indexed by Google and so it does not make much sense to be going for services like SEOLinkVine.
3. ReviewMe / LinkWorth
What if you don't prefer writing content for minor niche blogs? One option is you have is to outsource your content generation to other freelancer or the other option is you can ask the blog owner to write content for you and link to your blog. Sites like ReviewMe or Linkworth can help you find niche blogs and ask them to write content and review for you and link to your blog.
There are many advantages of using sites like ReviewMe and Linkworth. One of the advantage is you can get started building links to your site for as low as $5 per link but remember if you try getting links for least possible price level, you may end up getting links from blogs that have no actual readership and are online just to make those $5 per review. Ideally use ReviewMe or Linkworth to find blogs that have good readership and get your site out to the audience along with the link. Don't opt for cheapest links on such sites because that may not help and can even work against you.
4. Link to Authority Sites
Yes you read it rightly. I am talking about linking to authority sites and blogs without asking anything in return from them. The only reason you are linking to authority sites and blogs without anything in return is because you think it will help your site readers and users. As webmaster of the linked site notices in the stats (every webmaster looks at the stats) about your link driving him not only traffic but also giving him search engine benefits, they may return you the same favour any time soon.
5. Article Directories
If you are looking for better links from your content, article directories is the right way. Yes I agree that there are highly spammed directories out there but there are definitely few that are very well moderated and are worth looking for. My favourites are Ezine articles and Go Articles. EzineArticles.com and GoArticles.com have very strict article submission guidelines. For new authors they manually review each article which decreases the spam considerably and so if you submit good content, you can get a great link in return.
I outsource this tasks to freelancer's and I pay them for each article published (reviewed successfully by Ezine) for me under my account.
Many webmasters prefer to replicate the same article to multiple sites and get lot more incoming links instead of just one link but I don't prefer doing that.
6. Buy Links
Google's don't recommend paid links and so buying links is grey hat method of link building.
Contact webmasters and ask them if they want to have your site link place on their page for a payment. You can always have few paid links from great domains and authority sites to your boost your link building efforts but make sure you don't over do with paid links as it is one of the non-recommended things by Google.
7. Online Profiles
Many social networking websites like Twitter / Digg / LinkedIn allows adding link(s) to your site from your profile. You can create new profile for each of your site, link to your own site and generate few extra links.
I am not suggesting you to spam those sites with fake profiles with a link but what I am suggesting is - you can always create a new profile for each of your site like I have twitter profile for each of my site - For MBAGuys.net, For Go4Expert.com, For CodeItWell.com ...
8. Forum Signature
Majority of forums including Go4Expert.com allows you to add signature to your posts. Signature is small piece of information that you want to include at the bottom of all your posts. Many forums allow you to include pictures and links to your site(s). Each post that you contribute in forum adds a backlink to your site.
I know many people would argue that the forum posts pages have too many signature links which actually dilutes the benefits from forum signature link. I agree with that but if you are really helpful in forums you not only get links to your site from signature but you also drive lot of good quality traffic to your site. See the stats for my friend's blog. He is active member on one of my forum and that forum drives him really good quality traffic.
9. Blog Comments
There is a lot of misconception about blog commenting, nofollow and dofollow blogs.
A nofollow blogs are those which add a rel=nofollow to the commenter's website links and Google don't follow the rel=nofollow links. This means Google does not transfer PageRank (not the toolbar PR) or anchor text benefits across these links.
So people prefer to comment on blogs that don't add the rel=nofollow to the comment links. Those blogs are termed as dofollow blogs.
In general blog comments (nofollow or dofollow) can help you build good number of links to your website but you should understand that if your blog is about health and fitness and if you are commenting on web development dofollow blogs, obviously the amount of traffic will be very little but link benefits will be close to nothing. The most important aspect of blog commenting is to find authority blogs in your niche and be active on the blog. The authority blog in the niche will always be nofollow blog so the idea is to comment on authority blogs and not find dofollow blogs.
10. 3 Way Link Exchange
Google does not recommend link exchanges i.e. link to me and I'll link back to you but if you make link exchanges such that you create two sites. Site A and Site B. If anyone links to your Site A, you link them back from Site B. This way Google can never detect your link exchanges provided you use a different hosting for both of your sites. Link exchanges worked in 2005 but are a very outdated technique that search engines are well aware of but 3 way link exchange is a work around for link exchange.
Note: When doing link exchanges try to vary your anchor text as well as the url based on the profile of the website that is linking back to you. As an example if I want to do a link exchange for my MBA Forum I would ask the webmaster to link to the part of the website that is most relevant to his site. For example if the site linking to me is a CAT Exam site I may ask them to link to my CAT Exam forum instead of home page.
Apart from that I will not insist too much on the anchor text for each exchange but would prefer to have the link live. All links help your rankings in general, so don't be afraid to get links that looks like http://imtips.co/
11. Free Websites
There are many sites like Blogger, Hubpages etc that give you options to create pages online. You can sign-up with those type of sites, write whatever you feel like, and link to your main site.
I use DevHub (See my Devhub Review) to host my extra domains and add links to main site. See http://shabbirbhimani.com/ where I drag dropped my twitter and RSS feeds along with ways to contact me but the most important part is linkroll i.e. sites I own. This looks very natural to Google.
You can write honest reviews about a product and you can end up being linked from the product website itself. As an example I Reviewed BuySellAds from a publisher point of view and see how I got featured on BuySellAds Blog
The above examples may give you the feeling that positive reviews can generate lot of links but that is absolutely not true. See my ShareKhan PMS review (Financial Portfolio Management Service review of a top Indian share market broking house) generated lots of links from fellow bloggers like Manshu of OneMint or Manish of JagoInvestor and many others.
If you interview fellow bloggers and publish the interview on your site, there are very high chances that the blogger would link to your site. On the contrary if you are approached by any blogger to be interviewed you should positively respond to it because it can get your blog not only good traffic from the other blog but also valuable links. See how DailyBlogTips has my link on his blog for answering few questions about my Adsense experience.
14. Create Great Resource
Last but not the least is to have
good great content which builds link naturally to your site. I am sure you liked this post or else you may not read to this length. So why not link to this post from your blog or site and share the link with us.
Avoid building links too fast using spammy resources. You can't control who links to you, but make sure you avoid getting yourself linked from spammy sites. Share your feedback about the article in comments below.