So you want to rank high on Google and other search engines? Of course, you have to build a high quality website with the right content, but that is not enough when it comes to SEO.
Google became the world's number one search engine, because they invented a system that can rank websites by their relevance and quality. The Google's ranking system is greatly based on the following principle: If many relevant, high quality websites link to a particular site then this site must be high quality as well.
Here is how it works: If many other websites have links to your site, for Google it means that your website is valuable, because many independent sources "vote" for your site by linking to your content. And the opposite is true - if there are no links to a website, then it is most likely not very worthy.
So how do you get these links and make your website "worthy" for high search engine rankings?
What kind of links do you need?
All links are not equal. Stuffing your website's link in just some random other websites will not help.
Here are the link types that you should focus on:
- Links from websites that are relevant to your topic and industry
- Links from popular and established websites that already rank high on search engines
- Links that contain relevant keywords in anchor text (e.g. if you sell better mousetraps, then instead of "click here", the link on the other wesite is called "check these better mousetraps")
Of course you can not always get these link types, and will have to settle for other link types as well and it is ok because even links on less popular and less relevant sites count. It is just that one high quality link may be 1000 times more powerful than one low quality link.
So how do you get links form other sites
Here is a list of possible sources and methods.
Your other websites
If you run other websites, place a link to your new site. Of course it is best if your other websites are popular and relevant to the subject.
Ask suppliers, distributors and customers
If you have partners that supply something, buy from you or are in other ways related, ask them to place link to your website on their sites. Probably they have a section for their top customers or partners. Maybe you can write them a testimonial and ask them to publish it with a backlink to your site?
Links form partner websites can be very valuable as usually such websites are related to your industry, so such backlinks are highly relevant and valuable for SEO.
Ask friends, family and employees
If you have friends, family or employees who run good websites or interesting blogs, ask them to place a link or write about your new site. Such links might not be the most relevant or valuable, but they can be a quick way to get you started.
Directories and communities
Almost every industry has its online directories and communities. Some of them allow you to create a profile or page with your company info and link to your website. Sometimes these links are worth something, sometimes not, but it can pay off.
How to find such directories? Well, do a web search! Researching these directories and creating profiles on them can take some time, but it may be worth it.
Similarly like with directories, there are many industry-related or topic-related online communities. Some online communities allow you to post articles or respond to questions.
For example, if you sell die-cast model cars, you can register in all of the most popular die-cast model enthusiast forums, offer forum members a discount or publish reviews with beautiful pictures of the latest model cars you have in stock.
Just make sure you are genuinely contributing to the community. If you provide no value and just publish your links, you will most likely be banned for spamming.
You can find communities relevant to your industry by performing a simple web search. For example "digital art community".
Linkbait by content marketing
Content marketing is one of the most effective methods of modern online marketing. It works like this - you create and publish on your website content that is so good, valuable and interesting that many people just want to link to it naturally. This is called "linkbait" and it is a good thing.
This can be educational articles, professional advice, interesting videos, amazing photos, entertaining content etc. The main thing for such content is to provide high value without trying to sell something.
Remember, the better content you offer for free, the more people will just want to link to your site.
You could write an article with a review, professional advice or educational value and then ask some popular blog or media website if they would be willing to publish this article. Or you could create a cool video or a set of great pictures that somebody might be interested in publishing. Of course article would include link to author's website.
Be aware, however, that in order for you to be considered as guest author, you should offer publisher a very valuable piece of content and in case of textual articles also exclusivity, so that this article does not appear anywhere else on the web. Search engines does not like duplicate content and in some cases may consider same copy of an article in multiple sources as a spam attempt.
Although links posted on social networks are not counted by search engines and they are often perceived as worthless for SEO, many experts believe that there might be some benefit or some positive signals sent to search engines after all.
Besides, situation may change in the future, so it is good to have active social network profiles with your link that share content that includes links to your website time after time.
Find out who links to your competitors
Want to be as successful on search engines as your competitors? Discover who links to their websites and where they get their best backlinks from. Maybe you can get your website linked from the same places as well?
To see where your competitors got their backlins, you can use any of these tools:
These tools should provide you with a list of websites, directories, online communities etc. where they got their links. And then you can try to "copy" their strategy.
Here are some other resources:
- Create some relevant YouTube videos with your links
- Create and share some relevant Slideshare presentations with your links
What not to do
With link building there are some strategies that may seem like an easy shortcut or a smart trick, but usually this will either not work or, even worse, get your website punished and banned by search engines. So here is a list of what not to do.
Never ever buy links
There are some services that allow you to simply get links for money. Don't do this. This is against Google policies and can get you heavily punished. There is also a form where anybody can complain about sites which buy links.
Never ever use automated link generating software or services
Do not use any service or software that promises to publish your link on many websites. These tools usually generate a lot of poor quality, suspicious-looking links that may harm your SEO. These tools never get you any quality links.
Reciprocal linking does not work
Some time a go it was a popular practice to exchange links in hopes that both sites get a benefit. This is true no more. While this technique will most likely do no harm, there is no benefit either.
Mass guest blogging or link-rich PR releases do not work
Some time ago it was a popular technique to create a single article and then submit it to press release websites and to many bloggers as a guest article. This strategy does not work anymore, as duplicated content (same article on many sites) is ignored by search engines and links in press releases are automatically rendered as "nofollow" (to be ignored by search engines).
Do not create an unnatural link profile
Google's automated systems can punish you for "unnatural link profile". This means it can punish your website for for following reasons:
- Too many links with similar keywords (e.g. a lot of your links have same text, e.g. "click here for best mousetrap")
- Too many links from the same type of websites (e.g almost all links come from online directories and communities)
- Too many links appeared in a very short period of time (e.g. almost all of your links appeared within a few days)
- You have a huge number of low quality links (e.g. you have 100 low quality links and no high quality links at all, this is suspicous)
- Your link appears on multiple websites that have been just created (this is what spammers and cheaters do, they create many websites and then place a link to their main site in an effort to generate links, this is easily detected by search engines and heavily punished)
So, any type of cheating or a "smart scheme" that lets you get links without providing real value and without creating high quality content will not work.
Link building involves some effort and will take time, there is no quick solution and you can not (should not) cheat Google, however, when done right it is the single most effective SEO technique, because all major search engines heavily rely on your back-link portfolio.
The best strategy in a single sentence? Create great, valuable content and invest your time in getting this content seen and linked to.
Good luck! Your questions are welcome in comments.