Linking to other websites (specifically blogs) and getting links from other websites (backlinks) is an important part of a successful SEO strategy. This is one in a series of articles I have been writing to lean about Search Engine Optimization. I research the topic, learn a little bit, write about it and share. As part of the learning process, I hope these post will someday help others as well.
To get an overview of this series “SEO for Beginning Bloggers,” check out the first two posts: Learning SEO for Blogging and SEO Strategy – Important Considerations. These present “Big Picture” concepts and some key elements in an SEO strategy. In the last two posts, I explained the importance of writing good content and explored keyword and tags. This post will examine linking and backlinking.
Backlinking Do’s & Don’ts
Linking and backlinking is another area of SEO that I find difficult to master and fully understand. Don’t get me wrong, linking is easy, but what to link to and how to get good backlinks is the challenge. This is also a subject that is talked about frequently on many blog sites. Most will tell you that it is not the number of backlinks that is important but the quality of those links (but in the end, quantity is also important). In other words, are you linking to other sites and getting links from other sites that are related to your site (relevant material)? Are they from sites with high volume? Recently, there has been a lot of chatter on the web about backlinking.
Some are now saying that even good quality backlinks can get you in trouble with Google ranking because the origin of those good backlinks may also have many suspect backlinks associated with it (spamlinks or baitlinks, as some call them). While the debate about all things SEO and Google’s ranking tweaks continue, I still believe that a blog should seek out good, relevant backlinks and not worry too much about the bad ones that seem inevitable. There are many backlinking strategies, some of which are pretty straightforward and others that seem very convoluted (if not outright complicated). Much of the discussion these days centers on “what not to do”. I just read a good post that listed five strategies to avoid and I think they are worth repeating here:
• Paying for Backlinks – this seems to be a sure-fire way to get your site de-listed from Google, plus you have no way of knowing where these links come from.
• Submitting Mass Articles – The problem with this is that the article is a duplicate that gets distributed to a bunch of sites and Google will recognize this and ignore most of the posts.
• Submissions to Directories – Directories are in the business of listing websites and they want you to submit to them. There is nothing wrong with this but the reality is Google doesn’t seem to pay much attention to the ever-expanding number of directory listings. If you have a niche site, let’s say buttons, and there is a blog or website directory devoted to buttons, then by all means list and promote your site on that directory. That may lead to others in your niche and those links would be high quality.
• Mass Profile Links – This method of creating a link back to your site is still very popular but may not be as powerful as it once was. Creating profile links all over the place without any relevance may not bear fruit. If you are participating in a board or chat and are an active, productive member, then link your profile.
• Mass Bookmarking – as the writer of this original article said, anything with “mass” in it is probably not a real credible strategy. If you are going to bookmark, stick to one or two (like Digg).
I want to emphasize, the key word in these questionable strategies to avoid is mass. There was a time when submitting in mass increased a page rank. Everything was based on traffic, regardless of where it came from. But then Google figured out that mass-strategies were being employed for the sole purpose of page rank and “real” people where often not involved. Ever since, Google has been trying to find a way to rank sites by quality and not necessarily quantity (as stated above, successful sites do still need quantity of course).
Backlinking Takes Work
Ideally, a site gets many visitors and lots of links but that are generated by individuals and not by slight-of-hand techniques. People come to and link to a good site because they want to read the great content, learn, communicate, shop. Visitors are active participants. Thus, the marketplace of ideas thrives as we would all like it to. This is what Google is after but it may be proving difficult to police. I have looked at a number of recent posts on the subject of backlinks. Some are good, some are not so good but here is one I liked which talks about techniques for creating backlinks and also some of the pitfalls.
18 Linkbuilding Techniques from Lets Build Websites
Some of the strategies mentioned in the 18 Linkbuilding post include: article marketing, blog commenting, guest blogging and [selective] posting in a number of areas including some mentioned above in the DON’Ts. Once again, the emphasis is on posting in a selective manner and avoiding mass-submissions. All of the reading and researching on this topic has lead me to one conclusion. The lesson may be that there is no fast and easy means to backlinking – it will take a lot of time and effort. To get quality links and avoiding the mass-gimmicks mentioned above requires reaching out to other bloggers and proper linking and that will take time.
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