February 10, 2011

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Legitimate Links for Better Rankings

If you’ve been running a website long enough, chances are you’ve had an email that reads something like this: “I just visited your website and think your content is excellent. I feel a link exchange between our websites would be mutually beneficial.”

It all sounds convincing at first, but on closer inspection you find the request is from a website that has no connection to real estate whatsoever. So why on earth are these people getting in touch? Chances are, they’re still convinced that link volume is the key to great search engine rankings.

In a way, they’re right. It’s generally agreed that the higher the number of legitimate links to your website, the higher it will rank in search engine results. But the key word these days is “legitimate”. As searchenginewatch.com pointed out back in 2002, search engines have evolved to recognise artificial link building strategies.

Today, good link building means you need to plan rather than spam. Some tried and tested strategies - recommended by SEO experts time and again - include:

1. Great content. In a perfect world, your website would be so interesting and informative that other people would have no choice but to link to it. In this case, all you’ve done is put the effort into making great content, which we’ve discussed in depth here.

2. Guest posts. Ok, so perhaps your website isn’t so perfect that you can simply sit back and let the links roll in. But another way to get relevant websites to link back to you is to offer to write guest posts. As long as what you’re offering is relevant and well written, this should be a win-win situation: less work for them, more links for you.

3. Ask, but do it with care. The link exchange request described above is a bad example of a reasonable strategy. So how do make it work? Rather than sending the same hopeful email to a hundred websites, start by doing your research and find those that at least have a section dedicated to links.

Next, place a link to that website on your links page (as long as it’s actually relevant to your readership). Once you’ve done that, contact the webmaster to let them know you’ve already linked to them, and explain exactly where you’d like your link to be placed. You can even go as far as providing them with the html, making their job as simple as cutting and pasting.

Needless to say, those three tips only scratch the surface of link building. If you’re keen to dive deeper into the topic, we suggest you start with searchengineland.com’s Link Week series, which offers plenty of wisdom and a bit of tough love to those in the link building business.


Related posts:

  1. Simple Ways to Attract More Links
  2. Link Building Tips from Google
  3. Why Do Internal Links Matter for SEO?
  4. How to Track Your Links with bit.ly

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