In this tutorial, my aim is to cover everything you need to know about SEO link building, including ways to build backlinks and common questions you may have.
Before I begin, let’s me quickly go through some fundamentals.
– Link building is about building links FROM other websites to YOUR website, not from YOUR website to OTHER websites. You may laugh, but many newbies can’t even get this idea right.
– Next fundamental. In the SEO world, we often use the word backlink, which refers to links from OTHER websites TO your website. If you link to other websites, that’s NOT a backlink to you.
– Last fundamental. SEO link building is not just about building backlinks. It’s about building SEO backlinks. (Read this article on the difference between a backlink and an SEO backlink.)
Once you are clear on the fundamentals, let’s move on to the exciting part……
Ways To Build Backlinks
1) Google’s answer to link building
Officially, Google wants you to create great contents and/or services in your website, so that people can see the value in your website and link to you.
If you strictly follow this strategy, it may take you a long time before you can see any result.
But there are ways to accelerate the process and I shall list them below:
– Create link bait. For example, write an article on 101 ways to do something or a long list of resources. This kind of article will usually arouse people’s interest within your niche and thus link to that article. If you have a blog, put your link bait article in the Popular Article listing. The idea is to get more people to read that article and link to it.
– Provide a useful online application on your website, so that people will naturally link to you in their blogs or forums.
– Distribute free templates or scripts of any kind, such as WordPress theme, website template, free script, free plugin etc, with a backlink to website. When people use them, they will have to link to you.
The rest of the methods are not recommended by Google. But they are proven to work and are very likely to continue working for many years to come.
2) Effective textbook ways to build backlinks
Just pick up any SEO ebook and you’ll see these link building strategies:
– Distribute articles to article directories, aka article marketing.
– Post comments in blogs.
– Post in forums.
– Create pages in Blogspot, Squidoo, Hubpages and other social networking sites.
– Adding stories to Digg, Propeller and other social bookmarking sites.
– Press release.
– Submit your link to non-reciprocal link directories.
– Exchange links with friends or other webmasters, through article exchange or blogroll exchange. Though Google doesn’t like reciprocal links, reciprocal links still count. Just don’t over do it. What Google frowns is EXCESSIVE reciprocal links.
3) Other seldom-mentioned but effective ways to build backlinks
– Create accounts in social networking sites and membership sites that show your profile in public (there are thousands of them out there, with high PR) and include backlinks in your profile. You can create as many accounts as you like. (This method is extremely spammy, but it works.)
– Create your own linking network within your domains. This is applicable to those with lots of domains. You can divide your domains into groups and cross link them. Just make sure that they are not reciprocal links. (This method can be very powerful!)
– Create a simple software and submit it to hundreds of software directories, with a backlink to your website. Most software directories have high PR. These are great backlinks for you.
4) Buy links
Although Google says “do not buy links”, buying links still work. If you want backlinks from high PR web pages (not website), buying links seems to be the only option for most people.
But use it at your own risk. I doubt Google has an algorithm to catch you. In most cases, websites are caught because someone reports it to Google.
5) Participate in link building systems
– Link exchange networks
This is the earliest form of link building system, where webmasters create a link directory on their websites and link to one another. Such links are categorized under reciprocal links (i.e. I link to you, you link to me).
This kind of link building system is infamous and Google hates it because it doesn’t provide any value other than boosting search engine ranking.
There are rumours that Google ignores exchanged links (or reciprocal links). I doubt it. Google may discount reciprocal links, but it doesn’t ignore such links.
Honestly, I am not a fan of link exchange and have never tried any. My advice is stay away from such networks because there are better and safer linking systems out there.
– 3-way link networks
Instead of “I link to you, you link to me”, 3-way link networks work by linking A to B, B to C and C back to A. To Google, these are not reciprocal links.
This is my preferred link building network and I have used it for years. The only downside is such a linking network can only build backlinks to the homepage. If you want to build backlinks to internal pages, aka deep linking, you’ll have to resort to the 3rd option.
– Content syndication system
In such a system, you will post articles to a network of blogs or websites within the system. You can view this as another form of article marketing, except that the submission process is much simplified since you are doing it through a centralized system. This is my favorite link building strategies because I can build unlimited backlinks to unlimited web pages.
Common Questions About Link Building
1) Do nofollow links count?
No. Here’s what Matt Cutts, head of Google’s Webspam team, wrote “The essential thing you need to know is that nofollow links don’t help sites rank higher in Google’s search results.”
So when you build links, make sure that that link is not a nofollow link. You can easily identify nofollow links using Firefox plugins such as SearchStatus.
2) Do links from PR 0 sites count?
Yes. There is a myth going around saying that links from PR 0 sites don’t count. It’s a myth. What doesn’t count is if that link is from a web page that is NOT indexed by Google. If a web page is indexed by Google, it doesn’t matter whether the web page has PR 0 or PR 10. They will all help in your search engine ranking, but to different degrees of course.
Some experts say you should only post articles to popular article directories. I say NO. Distribute your articles to as many article directories as possible. I’ve gotten websites into top search results solely through article marketing alone. All links count, even if they have no PR.
3) Do links from unrelated contents count?
Yes. This is another common myth. Links from related content MAY score better, but links from unrelated links definitely counts.
4) Do links from duplicated contents count?
Yes. Links from unique contents MAY score better, but links from duplicated contents definitely count.
The only concern here is because the content is duplicated, Google may not index that the web page. As I said, links from un-indexed pages do not count.
“Kenneth, are you trying to say Google penalizes duplicated contents?”
I wouldn’t say Google penalize duplicated contents. What happen is when Google indexes many web pages with the same content, it will only show some of the web pages and keep the rest in its sandbox. The priority usually goes to those websites with high PR. So let’s say you distribute an article to 300 article directories, probably only 200 of them are indexed. The other 100 may not be indexed and thus those links are not counted.
5) What is the relationship between PageRank and link building?
Technically, PageRank (PR) is like a vote. If a web page with high PR links to your web page, that link will carry more votes and thus add more to the PR of your web page. 0 PR doesn’t mean that web page carries no vote, it just carries lesser votes.
One thing to note is PageRank is web page specific. A PR 8 website doesn’t mean all its web pages have PR 8. So if you happen to buy links, make sure you pay for links from web pages with high PR, not just websites with high PR.
6) When submitting to link directories, can I go for reciprocal link option?
If you have done submissions to link directories, you will know that there are 3 options, free, reciprocal and paid. Don’t go for the reciprocal option. This is because over time, some of these directories may close down and you may end up having lots of bad links on your website, which can harm you SEO ranking and even get your website delisted.
I think I have more or less covered all you need to know about SEO link building. If you have other question about link building, just post your question below.