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Link Building, Still Important After All These Years

Google may have taken its PageRank away from us, but you can be sure that it’s still in use internally. PageRank, or something similar, is still being used to determine the importance of your site, as compared to that of your competitors in whatever search terms are in use.

For the foreseeable future at least, links are going to play a significant part in this, as they have in the past. Although you won’t know what your PageRank is, I’m sure you hope that you do rank and, while you might be able to attain a PageRank as high as two, or possibly three, on the strength of your content alone, you will need back-links in order to move further than that. Whether you can see it or not, it can be important. It’s not as important as having solid content, but you don’t want to ignore it, and link building is a significant step in achieving it.A Link is a Link is a Link

Once people learned that links were important, an entire industry was born, and not an entirely clean one. Rather than creating content that other people wanted to link to, people began looking for ways to beat the system.

We saw link farms, free-for-all-link sites, hidden links, reciprocal link networks, and automated software that posted thousands of links all over the Internet.

Some people participated in these scams using web directory software, taking the place of the free-for-all sites after they lost their authority and usefulness, accepting automated submissions and publishing them on their directory pages without human intervention.

Few, if any, of the real directories moved over to the dark side, however. Although they may use similar software, most reputable web directories will not accept automated submissions, and none of them will publish this junk onto their directory pages without human intervention.

In response to such scams, search engines no longer consider all links to be of equal value, and some types of links may be discounted altogether. In short, the math may have changed but links are still important.

If you can manage to get your link on a website that uses a .gov or .edu extension, terrific. However, if you reject the idea of hiring a hacker to put it there, that may not be a realistic goal.

The best links are those that are relevant to the topic of your site. In other words, if your site is about pediatric education, a link from an authority site on that topic would be better for you than one on a site about raising poodles. This doesn’t necessarily mean that any harm will befall you if your friend with the poodle site wants to link to you but if you have a lot of irrelevant links, a search engine might flag them as being unnatural. At any rate, a relevant link will benefit you more.

The term “link juice” refers to the amount of benefit that a site may receive when another site links to it. A link from one site to another is considered a vote for that site and, and a number of variables are involved in deterring the strength of that vote.

While many people pretend to know more than that do, no one outside of Google knows the formula involved in making this determination. However, from statements that have been made by Google spokespeople over the years, you should look for links from pages that are relevant to the content of your site. This would include the content of the text around the link to your site, as well as other outgoing links that are on the same page.

In your quest to find such links, you can contact people who have sites whose content complements your own, but people may be hesitant to link to sites that they consider to be competition, or they may ask for a reciprocal link or the payment of a fee.

When two sites with similar content link to one another, there is nothing wrong with that, but it is believed that when link juice flows in both direction equally, the results are a draw, so the value of a two-way link is less than the value of a one-way link.

The payment of a fee could be problematic in that this is one of the things that Google spokespeople have specifically spoken against.

If you were to create great content, you might find that people would be willing to link to your site for free, but people have to find your site before they can even begin to evaluate its worthiness.

An option that has been available for more than fifteen years involves web directories and as long as you pay attention to which web directories you submit your site to, this option is as valuable now as it has ever been.

Not every site that is build on the back of a web directory script is a web directory. A web directory is maintained by human beings, who organize sites by topic into categories and subcategories. Not every submitted site is accepted by the staff of a real web directory, and not every listed site has been submitted.

There are two ways in which sites may be listed in a web directory. Some listings have been submitted to the directory by a website owner, while others are added for free by directory staff.

When a website owner submits his site for consideration, this may or may not involve the payment of a fee. Web directory staff will then consider the submission in order to determine whether the site would be a useful addition to the directory; to do this, they would visit the submitted site.

If the site is deemed acceptable, according to the directory’s standards, the editors would then evaluate the title and description in order to ascertain whether they are appropriately descriptive, and in accordance with submission guidelines. If not, the submission may be denied; alternatively, the directory staff may simply edit the title and/or description.

Lastly, the directory staff will decide whether the category that the site was submitted to is the most appropriate category. If not, most directory staff will simply move it to a more appropriate category, but others may deny the submission.

In either event, paid submissions are more likely to be corrected than denied, as long as the site itself is acceptable.

Some sites using directory software will accept every paid submission, adding them to whichever category they are submitted to, and without human intervention. These are not valid web directories, and any fees paid are not submission fees, but paid links.

A valid directory may charge a submission fee in order to pay the salaries of staff members who review sites, making changes to submitted sites as necessary, and perform other tasks in the maintenance of the directory.

One of these tasks involves adding sites for free. In some of the better directories, as little as two percent of the listed sites have been submitted to the directory, with ninety-eight percent of them being added for free by directory staff.

When you submit your site to a valid web directory, this is not a paid link, but a submission fee. If your site is accepted, this can provide a valuable link to your site.

We’ve already learned that the best links that you can have are on pages whose content relates to that of your own site, and in which any other outgoing links are also relevant to your site.

Keeping this in mind, if your site is listed in an appropriate category of a well-organized web directory, this purpose would be served, particularly if the category that your site is listed in were to include textual content relating to the topic of your site, which could be a well written category description.

Directories have been around for a long time, and directory submission continues to be a valid strategy to gaining back-links for your site. Remember to submit your site only to valid web directories, created and organized for human eyes, not search engines, and to submit your site to the most appropriate category. This is something that you can, and should, do for yourself.

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Jim Veradyne is the author of several websites portraying small North Dakota cities and townships.

'Link Building, Still Important After All These Years' have 4 comments

  1. January 17, 2015 @ 10:08 am Neil

    With the increasing prominence of social media / networking websites in recent years I can’t help but wonder how much value Google will eventually give to links from these types of sites in the foreseeable future, although there are already plenty of sellers on sites like Fiverr.com that offer services that produce thousands of backlinks or “social signals” from these types of sites, so who knows where things will go from hereon. I guess one of the most important things to consider as part of a long-term link building strategy is diversifying your backlinks.


    • February 1, 2015 @ 8:29 pm WDD-Admin

      Like with any other type of site, I think it will depend upon the quality and relevancy of the link. We’ve already reached the point where quality means more than quantity, when it comes to backlinks, although both are important. In the end, Google doesn’t know whether you’ve paid for a link or whether it’s there because someone felt your site was worthy of a link. When a link is not relevant to the site or to the page on which it resides, there is every reason to suspect that it might be a paid link, and Google’s algorithm may well assume that it is. Otherwise, I think that there will always be a place for sites linking to other sites, since that has always been the basis of the Internet.


  2. February 1, 2015 @ 2:51 am Web Directory Digest / 10 Simple Link Building Tips - Web Directory Digest

    […] Link Building, Still Important After All These Years […]


  3. May 8, 2015 @ 4:27 pm dano

    It is no longer the quantity of links that you receive but the quality. That is the direction that Google is moving towards in the future. They are becoming better at telling the difference between human and software driven content and are more swift in handling out punishment in the form of penalties. Get high quality backlinks and stop focusing getting large numbers.


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