There are those who will tell you that link building is no longer an effective way of improving your search engine ranking, especially after the latest Google algorithm update, which threatened to wipe out low quality websites with spam links attached to them. But it’s not true. Link building isn’t dead yet. Link building is still useful and, according to Google spokespeople, probably will be for a long time to come. What has changed is that the way you build links needs to be based on natural linking strategies.
Search engines like Google can spot unnatural links from miles away, or so they would like us to believe. Although there are plenty of low quality sites that are enjoying Google’s good graces yet, when they do spot unnatural link patterns pointing to your site, there is always the chance that they will penalize it, or discount those links, reducing your position in search engine result pages.
Having your site flagged by Google is something that every webmaster wants to avoid. Since Google is the largest feeder of traffic to most websites, you could lose a lot of business that way.
Every webmaster should begin the task of establishing a natural link profile for their websites, especially in a time when sophisticated algorithms are employed at the core of each search engine platform, making it more difficult for sites to cheat the search engines in order to obtain an undeserved high position in the SERPs. Here are a few of the ways that you might establish a natural link profile.
Seek a Balance Between DoFollow and NoFollow Links
In order to get a technicality out of the way, let’s be clear that there is no such thing as a DoFollow link. However, the term is used to denote a link that does not employ a NoFollow tag, and that’s the way that I’ll use it here.
When another website offers a DoFollow link to your website, it means that they are telling the search engine that your website has value for them, or they are casting their vote for your site.
On the other hand, when another site provides a link to your site but employs a NoFollow tagt o it, the implication is that they are linking to your site because it may be of interest to their readers but it tells the search engines that your website is not particularly valuable to them, and they are not vouching for it. In a sense, it’s a disclaimer.
In that sense, the search engines will give more credence to a DoFollow link than to a NoFollow link, but this doesn’t mean that NoFollow links are useless. For one thing, you may receive direct traffic from the link. Perhaps even more importantly, NoFollow links will help you establish a balance between DoFollow and NoFollow links.
Although I can’t personally tell you why anyone would naturally add a “nofollow” tag to a link, the folks at Google apparently believe that a natural link profile would include all sorts of links.
Vary Anchor Texts Across Many Platforms
Look at it this way. If you have a website about skin care products, it would be good to spread out your incoming links through a variety of websites that are relevant to your site’s topic.
These might include skin care forums, beauty blogs, medical websites related to skin treatments, niche directories focusing on related topics, and relevant categories of general directories. It will also help to have some links from blogs and forums, where the topics relate to your site.
You should also consider the anchor text that you are using for each link as well. Truly natural links will be provided by someone other than yourself, and they will use whatever anchor text they wish.
If you are trying to help the process along by soliciting links as we all do, through guest blogging, or through directory submissions, you should use different types of anchor texts whenever possible. Most often, in directory submissions, you will have to use your brand name as an anchor text, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but for other links you might use generic anchor texts, such as “click here,” long-tail keywords that are related to your site, your URL itself, or even image links.
Social Activity and Following
Many people today use the internet mostly to communicate with their friends and family members via social networking websites. Not only that, they also use social networks to communicate with the brands that they like, as well as to discuss about what they like.
For instance, if someone loves the game of golf, they will use social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, to communicate with other golf enthusiasts, and to keep up with some of the well-known golf brands, perhaps even asking questions or commenting on their Facebook page.
If you want to establish a healthy link profile, don’t ignore the social networks. The precise effect that the social networks might have on your site’s position in the SERPs is not yet known, but Google does spider the social networks. Besides, you will receive direct traffic.
On the other hand, some people make too much of the importance of social networking, to the point where they spend to much of their time with it, including time that might be better used in other pursuits. Don’t put all your eggs in the social network basket, but don’t ignore them either.
Link Quality and Authority
In order for them to benefit your site to the maximum, the links that lead to your site need to be from good quality sites, ones that have authority and are considered reputable. Don’t scorn a link from a new site that hasn’t yet earned authority in the search engines, as long as it is well maintained and of good quality, but don’t solicit links from low quality sites.
Gaining links from top quality websites within your niche will help to strengthen your link profile, and the more authority the linking sites have, the better it will be for your own site.
Again, you should strive to strike a balance. While you certainly want to have some strong links from authority sites, you will also need links from weaker sites. For that matter a few links from low quality sites won’t do you any harm, but you will probably get low-quality links without seeking them out.
The best links are one-way links, as opposed to two-way links. A two-way link is one in which someone agrees to link to your site if you link the theirs. As this occurs naturally in sites in the same niche, it doesn’t hurt to have some two-way links, but one-way links will be stronger.
A Long-Term Strategy of Link Building
Don’t try to build your entire link profile in a week. This needs to be a long-term project, one that should never end as long as that site is one that you want to promote.
Link building is not a shortcut to traffic, but a long-term investment of time and money in your website’s future. Build your links gradually and steadily and, as your site begins to gain authority and a good position in the SERPs, you will find that it gets easier.
Eventually, people will want to link to your site. Before you get to that point, however, you may have to help it along.
Web Directories Are a Good Start
When your site is new, whatever its quality, you will probably have trouble finding people to link to it. Within your niche, you may be viewed as a potential competitor. Plus, there is the unavoidable fact that, until you can gain a good position in the SERPs, many of the people who might be willing to link to your site won’t even know it’s there.
Web directories are ideal for new sites and, as long as you submit to relevant categories of good quality directories, there is no danger in this.
Do not submit to junk directories, and do not respond to one of those ads promising to submit your site to “x” number of directories for “x” number of dollars, for they will submit your site to the junk directories you don’t want to be associated with.
Niche directories within your niche are ideal. Although they can be pricey, this might be a good investment. Reputable general or topical directories are also a good choice, but only if you submit to a category that is relevant to your site’s topic.
Prices for directory submissions can range from free to $300 a year, so do your homework. You might begin with this publication, as you’ll find articles here that will help you choose the right directory.
Other choices may include Web Directory Reviews Org or Web Directory Forum, where you can ask questions or participate in discussions, both of which are part of the same network as Web Directory Digest.
Don’t discount the value of a good web directories. Not only are they a good start for a new site, but they should be a part of your continued link building strategy. Don’t depend entirely on web directories for links, but they can help you in your efforts at establishing a natural link profile. Good web directories are good SEO.