Gaining backlinks… Not my favorite pass-time. BUT…
Google’s ranking algorithm places an enormous amount of importance on how a web page is linked to from other topically related pages on the internet. Factors of importance that prompt Google to attribute ‘authority’ to a web page as a relevant, usable and topical resource for inclusion to their directory based on external links include;
- Number of relevant pages linking to the backlink page (high is good)
- PageRank of backlink pages (high is good)
- Age of backlink pages (older is better)
- Length of root domain registration (longer is better)
- Topical relevance of backlink pages
- TLD (top level domain i.e. .com, .ca, .org etc – .edu & .gov pages are *usually* very high quality backlinks)
- Number of visitors to and average length of stay on backlink page (more and longer are better)
- Number of outbound links on the backlink page (fewer is better)
- Number of links or backlink pages (if the number of backlinks is combined with quality that is ideal)
I recommend reading some of Melanie Nathan’s stuff on backlinks here for more intro on the subject if you’re still not sure.
There are a number of ways you can attempt to gain backlinks of quality. We will address 5 primary methods in this document:
- Directories (paid and free)
- Backlink Request
- Paid Links
- Blogs and Forums
Both paid and free directories vary in their authority and importance from Google’s perspective.
Possibly the most important free, human-edited directory from Google’s perspective is the Open Directory project (ODP) also known as the Mozilla Directory (DMOZ). We strongly encourage you to attempt to get a listing from DMOZ.com. Make sure you choose the most granular and appropriate category for your website, and that your description is completely objective. DMOZ is notorious for excluding listings that have any self-promotional content whatsoever.
It is probable that the most important paid directory from the search engines stand point is the Yahoo! Directory. This costs in the region of $299.00 per annum, automatically renewed and can be applied for here.
ALWAYS CHECK EACH DIRECTORY before you submit if you are unfamiliar with it. You don’t want bad neighborhoods or banned sites linking to your site in any kind of pattern or volume ever. You also need to make sure that the directory is still indexed and maintained.
There are numerous other directories. Some portal sites (just searching on Google very randomly) include:
Mix of Paid and Free
2. BACKLINK REQUEST
To clarify some terminology prior to explaining the approach I need to explain what a one-way link is and what a reciprocal link is:
- A one-way link is when you ask a website owner or webmaster to link to your website as you feel your content may be of interest to their users, and the webmaster simply links to you, no questions asked. Depending on your industry and the sites you approach, a positive conversion rate (acquisition of a one-way link) will probably lie within the range of 1-5% of all contacts.
- A reciprocal link is when you ask a webmaster to link to your page, and they reply in the affirmative, but with the caveat that you link back to a page of their choice. Again, depending on the industry and the sites you approach, an acceptable conversion rate should lie within 10-25% of all contacts.
This takes time, but it’s worth it in the end. And it has to be done unless you can shell out to a pro-link builder.
Take your core keywords and phrases and search for them on Google making use of ‘advanced search’ selecting up to 100 results
Copy and paste every primary URL within the top 500-1000 (5-10 pages). You can make it easier by simply copying and pasting the entire Google SERP page and deleting listings as you make contact.
Go to each URL and find the contact details wherever possible for the webmaster. In some cases looking up the who.is information will yield a technical contact if one cannot be found by any other means.
Send a personalized email to the webmaster. See Eric Ward’s latest article here.
Keep an excel spreadsheet of – at a minimum – the specific URL requested, when you requested it, what the reply was (if any), contact name and email. Follow up.
4. PAID LINKS
There is lot of bad press in the SEO community about gaining paid links.
Paid links are basically one-way links you pay for that are not in directories. If you pay for a link that is registered by the search engines as being paid, your site is not penalized; the site that is linking to you with the paid link may be if detected. The cost might range between $100 and $500 per month.
Things to consider:
- Do you only want the link for traffic, or do you want it for SEO
- If for SEO, is the page indexed and does it have a decent PageRank (4+… or 3 at a push)
Two of the best paid links website to trial are:
4. BLOGS & FORUMS
Finding blogs and forums that relate to your offering is vital to create and maintain a social reputation as well as to target relevant target markets.
Commenting on blogs by making a positive contribution and answering or querying forums to incite discussions are equally valid. Do not commit blog comment spam please.
5. WIDGETS (GADGETS)
There are numerous widgets that can be employed to boost your online exposure as well as interest in your site.
In most cases gadgets work best for full blown ecommerce sites. In some instances, using innovate gadgets for specific market needs can be effectively achieved; (sucking my thumb for an example…)…
- if you’re a hairdresser; MAYBE geotarget a gadget campaign and ask people to tick their 4 fave celeb hairstyles off a drop down menu. Take them from there to a free trial to upload an image of themselves and see the hairstyles of their favourite stars on their picture. Include the gadget on the home page and market it through other channels (online and off).
This post is not exhaustive, but it should hopefully be of help!
Checking Backlinks – that’s for the next post….
Good linking everyone!