The algorithms of search engines are constantly changing. The big 3 (Google, Yahoo and MSN) may love your links today and devalue them tomorrow. I think the largest evidence of this is what happened to reciprocal links. At one time they were all you needed to rank very well in Google. Now, though, they have a tiny fraction of their previous value.
The sudden, drastic change in reciprocal linking is evidence that you need to vary your link gathering methods. Putting all of your links in one basket will work for a while, but when it stops working every site you have will suffer greatly.
That's why I recommend a four-legged approach to link building:
- Automated link building.
- Links from article distribution, press releases and blog comments.
- Social bookmarking.
- "Natural" links resulting from great site content.
Let's go over each one of these methods in a little more detail.
Automated Link Building
To stay ahead of your biggest competition, many of whom often have a full time staff working to build links, you need to consider a proven automated linking method. Whether you use a semi-automated approach (such as SEO Elite), or a fully automated method (like 3WayLinks.net, you need to think seriously about the efficiency of automated link building. It helps you to keep pace with those who have a staff, especially if you're a one man (or woman) show.
Links From Article Distribution, Press Releases and Blog Comments
I'm grouping these three methods together because they're all part of what I consider "in-content linking" -- where your links are surrounded by content related to your link and the subjects that you want to rank for. Since all three accomplish this in a similar way, I've put them all together under one "leg."
Gaining backlinks from articles will never go out of style. People have been building their brand and generating sales from article syndication for many, many years. Now, in the age of the Internet, in addition to the direct traffic generated from the links in the articles, you also help your ranking in the search engines.
Articles do more than help boost your ranking through link building. They also build your personal brand, establishing you as a knowledgeable authority in your subject area, and that builds trust that works to drive sales.
Now that articles are also used for search engine optimization, though, it's important that you understand the ins and outs of how best to write articles that are both informative and educational, while also being effective at drawing people to your site without sacrificing their SEO value. A great report that outlines a number of "best practice" methods from a proven article marketer is Josh Spaulding's Article Marketing Domination.
Press releases are less for building authority and more for generating buzz, but they still give you a great way to get a lot of low-cost links into your sites. Have a new product or service available? Create a great new concept or idea? Then write a press release and submit it to the top sites for quick traffic and link building.
Blog comments are a third great way to get high-quality links to your site from pages of content related to your site. Of course, spam commenting won't do. You want to make sure that you read the blog posts that you're going to comment on, and write a thoughtful comment that adds to the post.
A great way to automate your efforts is by using Fast Blog Finder. Click here to download and install the free version. The free version limits how many blogs it will find related to the keywords you provide, but it is not crippled beyond that. If you feel it's as great as I feel it is, you can go to the Help menu and buy the full version that has no limitations.
If I need to get a site crawled and indexed fast, I usually post a few social bookmarks to it. The search engines quickly follow, and within a few days or a week, the site is almost always fully indexed.
But social bookmarking is also great for building backlinks. For automation, I like to use Social Bookmarking Demon. It makes it easy to submit to dozens of social bookmarking sites. Keep in mind, though, that if you submit to a lot of these sites at one time, and your site is pretty new, then Google will probably drop your ranking after a few days. Your ranking will stay down for a week to two weeks before those new links are calculated into Google's algorithm. When that happens, though, I always see a significant boost up from my original ranking.
So for new sites, social bookmarking is a definite must-have on your list of linking techniques.
"Natural" Links Resulting From Great Site Content
I use the word "natural" in quotes because I'm not completely in line with Google's notion of what constitutes a "natural" link -- but that's a post for another day.
Regardless, though, if you want to have an army of people adding links to your pages without you having to pay them a salary to do so, then you need to have outstanding content on your web sites. Outstanding content is link bait! People will link to it like crazy and tout how wonderful your site is to other people, encouraging them to visit.
This works well for you in terms of direct traffic from those pages as well as increasing your link popularity and, thereby, your ranking in the search engines. However, because "natural" links don't always follow Google's prescribed method of including the keywords you want to rank for in the anchor text, it often takes a lot more of these kinds of links to rank well.
Four Legs Makes a Table Sturdy
Using multiple link building techniques can be likened to building a table. You can get a table with one leg to stand up if you're really careful, but any little bump or movement and it'll fall over. Two legs will hold up a little easier, but still, it's precarious. Three legs isn't bad. In fact, many a table is built with three legs. But four legs is by far the most sturdy, able to withstand all kinds of bumps, shoves and movement without falling over.
The same holds true with link building. Today the search engines may value automated links more than links from articles or press releases, or vice versa, but tomorrow that formula may change (and, based on past experience, it's likely to). So if you have your links spread out across many possible categories, your rankings are much more likely to survive the ebb and flow of search engine algorithms.
An added benefit of using techniques such as article writing and press releases is that they have their own innate traffic value. So even if your site disappeared from the rankings completely, if you have thousands content-based links in articles and press releases spread across the web, you won't lose all of your traffic. In fact, I've got one site that I worked hard to get quality links to from related niche sites that actually received 70-75% of its traffic from those links (to the tune of 15,000 visitors per month). Keep that in mind when planning your link building strategy as well.
Please post your thoughts and comments below.