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9 Most Common Link Building Strategies

As a webmaster, you have already been told that backlinks from external sources are paramount to high rankings in search engines. Unfortunately, many online marketers fail to separate the good from the bad  when it comes to pursuing links.

The following is a detailed breakdown of all link major link buildingstrategies , accompanied by an analysis of return on time investment in addition to the possibility of incurring a penalty (boo) from a search engine like Google or Yahoo!.

1. Internal Links

Internal links occur within the website itself and offer Search Engine Optimisers two major advantages:

- The ability to help search engine robots (spiders) find new content.
- The ability to pass PageRank (the juice!) and develop silos of authority within the hierarchy of a website.

    Cost/Benefit: Internal links are the low hanging fruit of link building and this tactic is frequently overlooked by Search Engine Optimisers . The most effective internal links are blended seamlessly within article, are not navigational, and are not clustered at the end of the content. (ie, at the bottom of the page)

    Penalty Risk Level: None.

    2. SEO Directories

    By and large, web directories are the telephone pages(Yellow Pages) of the Internet. No relevance, no ranking, and no human input. Who still looks at the Yellow Pages anyway? Probably there are still people, but pretty much the numbers are not appealing.

    Cost/Benefit: With the exception of Yahoo Directory and DMOZ, web directories are an enormous waste of time and resources. They are essentially a paid link that passes rank. I've done SEO directory tests on several domains and the results were a bit startling. Of the three sites tested, none improved rankings and two dropped to the third page for top rankings.

    Penalty Risk level: Moderate/high.

    3. Comment Links

    The concept is simple, isn't it? Find a whole lot of article/blog posts that are thematically relevant and start posting links with your keywords in the anchor text. Sounds easy and requires very minimal effort.

    Cost/Benefit: In terms of increasing rankings, this no longer works. The vast majority of blogs are some variation of Wordpress or Blogspot, which set comment links by default to "nofollow," meaning your website won't receive the link juice. Simply put, it's not worth the time.

    Penalty Risk Level: Moderate. Depending on the depth of your link portfolio, too many of these links can crush your link variance ratio. Dropping a URL in a comment isn't a big deal, but mixing in some anchor text in the "Name:" section is a spammy signal. Remember, Google and the other search engines do not like spam. Do no evil. :)

    4. Paid Links/Sponsored posts

    Paid  or sponsored links are the most common form of traditional link building. This is the process of finding potential link partners or search portals and offering them cash in exchange for a dofollow link with the anchor text of the webmaster's choices.

    Cost/Benefit: Not endorsing paid links, which are against Google's Webmaster Guidelines, but they can be one of the most effective methods of building links. The traffic from these advertisement is good as well as it can boost your coffers.

    Penalty Risk Level: Depends. Using a text link broker is like stamping a "kick me" sign to Google. Whether or not they penalize your site, the link networks of these firms often get uncovered and their links are seriously de-weighted (or removed from the index entirely).

    5. .Gov/.Edu Extensions

    Quite simply, these are the holy grail of links and have a massive impact in helping a page or website rank for targeted keywords. If you do a search for a very competitive keyword in your industry, you will notice that some of the best ranked websites are often affiliated to a major player in the industry.

    Cost/Benefit: I wouldn't recommend a concerted effort in achieving these links. Political connections can go a long way, but a campaign dedicated to obtaining these links isn't the best use of time and resources. However, if you have the connections to get a link, it surely will boost up your juice to your website.

    Penalty Risk Level: None.

    6. Social Media

    These links are fairly easy to disseminate through channels such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube; however, these links are all nofollowed. Many big MNCs have started to incorporate social media into their internet marketing mix. It is easy to introduce, but very tough to make it work.

    Cost/Benefit: While these links might not pass PageRank, the ancillary benefits can be tremendous. One powerful tweet can generate dozens of high-quality backlinks across the blogosphere, which will pass PageRank. In all likelihood, Google will become more active in monitoring and using these social signals as supporting evidence for sites that have suddenly increased their link portfolios.

    Penalty Risk Level: None. Just don't turn your Twitter account into a spam zombie. Remember, no one likes spam. If you're caught spamming, you're gone.

    7. Link Baiting

    The process of generating incoming links through the creation of engaging content and tools.

    Cost/Benefit: Link baiting is the most reliable long-term strategy for developing a high performance domain in search engines. Famous examples of link baiting include the subservient chicken, Radiohead remixes, and Office Max's "Elf Yourself." When creating link bait, follow one simple rule: make your content something an audience will want to share with others. You can also mix this with point 6 - Social Media.

    Penalty Risk Level: None. In fact, Matt Cutts of Google has encouraged link baiting.

    8. Press Release Links

    Using a press release firm such as PR Web or PR Newswire in the hopes of generating incoming links.

    Cost/Benefit: This strategy is fine, so long as the press release is useful. When done well, releases can drive quality backlinks from reputable news sources. Tip: be sure to link deep within the site when relevant. Always create meaningful content for your users to Retweet, Like and spread the message.

    Penalty Risk Level: None.

    9. Reciprocal Links

    My inbox is constantly flooded with endless requests from webmasters requesting link exchange. To be clear: building an example.com/link.html pages will do nothing for your rankings. Google discounts these outbound links and seriously de-weights incoming links. In fact, I also receive many spam on my blog asking for a link too. They're automated to do that, so no point getting frustrated or annoyed.

    Cost/Benefit: Don't engage in this strategy and don't play the fool's game of quickly unlinking to make them appear as one-way links; it's another spammy signal that won't get your far. Instead, develop relationships with other savvy webmasters and trade links deep within pages when there's semantic relevance.

    Penalty Risk Level: Low.

    Remember, link building is a constant growing process. One of the reasons to like link baiting is because it's fun and creative. Find something you enjoy creating and use it as a method to drive incoming links. That way, link building will be a part of your daily routine, not another unrealistic marketing resolution.

    Link building is a continuous effort, not a 1 time wonder.

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