So, you’ve spent the last few weeks building your first website, either from scratch or using a Wordpress template. You’ve even gone so far as to have done some work on keyword research and optimized your site for certain phrases you know are relevant. Yet you’re still not showing up on the search engines. Your site is optimized, your keywords are correct and in the right place, you’ve organized your headers and tags, and you’re writing some awesome content. But no one is reading it. What now?
The next step on your SEO journey is to delve into the murky world of link building. For those of you who have been reading up on search engine optimization you will almost certainly have come across the term ‘backlink’ but might have wondered what exactly it meant. Well now is the time to roll your sleeves up and get to grips with backlinks, because when it comes to SEO the backlink is king.
Backlinks are essentially like friends. The more of them you have, the more popular you are (although some of them are actually no good for you and can get you in trouble.) Also referred to as inbound links (IBL’s) they refer to other websites that link to your site. They are crucial for SEO purposes because many search engines, including Google, will allocate more credit to a site when indexing if it has a decent number of quality (the important word here) backlinks and therefore place it higher up the search engine results. However, the days when you could simply farm out link building to a link farm or link building company are over. As with all things SEO, too much abuse by webmasters has made it far harder to game the system now. Google has only recently adjusted their algorithm to ensure that link building and backlinks are about quality and not quantity. With this in mind, for those just starting out, here are a few tips on correctly building links to your site:
(1) Do Your Research – If you’re putting together a backlink strategy the first thing you should do is head to the sites of your competitors to see where their backlinks are coming from. If someone is willing to link to your competitors then their site will probably be of relevance to yours too, so they will probably be open to linking to you. Once you have established this, it is simply a case of offering better content than your competitor and approaching their website for a link. An easy way to do this back link research is to get hold of one of the many free tools out there such as SEO Spyglass or SEO Back Link Analyzer.
(2) Guest Posting – The easiest way to get quality back links. Find sites with a good reputation and high PR and who are open to guest posting. Then write an article which is of relevance and interest to their readers and submit it. In return they will normally give you a brief ‘author’s box’ in which you can have one link. Link to your site.
(3) Use Only Quality Backlinks – Quality not quantity is your mantra. Try to only go for quality backlinks, as they will bring much better link value to your site. If possible, stick to sites with a PR rating of 2+, that are a few years old and are genuine sites, not link farms, article farms or any other kind of farm. Similarly, make sure you link on a search phrase that is relevant to your site rather than having your anchor text as something like ‘click here.’ If possible, pick sites where they have very few other links on the page as these can dilute the strength of your ‘link juice.’
(4) Submit Your Site to Directories – less important than in previous years but there are still advantages to be had from submitting your site to as many directories as you can get your hands on. With many directory submission services out there you can delegate this job to someone else, although if you want to get in the highest quality and most reputable directories you’ll need to do it yourself – they don’t accept automatic submissions.
(5) Write Quality Content – This is along the lines of ‘build it and they will come.’ Google are changing their algorithm every few months to push higher quality content further up the search results. Good quality writing should always be the first aim of any site. Not only will it rank better, it will also attract people who actually want to read the stuff. They will recommend it to other people and hey presto, you’ve got natural links and some buzz about your article and site.
Alex Simmonds is a freelance journalist and copywriter. He currently writes a blog for the Bedouin Group on freelancing and the contracting sector, covering everything from taxation to umbrella companies.SEO For