Arranging reciprocal link partnerships with other websites used to be an extremely effective tool for bolstering your organic search engine rankings. As webmasters figure out how to manipulate algorithms, however, those algorithms will inevitably be updated by the powers that be. Currently, search engine algorithms give far more credence to one-way incoming links, and the art of facilitating these is commonly referred to as link building. Link building methods are extremely diverse and the term should only be considered as an umbrella over a variety of specific strategies, including:
- Paid links: Links can be purchased through link brokers or manually sought out one at a time by webmasters or web marketers. Brokers will provide you with a network of sites to choose from whereby you can customize the ever-important anchor text and select publishers relevant to your subject matter for a monthly fee. If you’re more traditional, don’t send out the wedding invitations just yet – doing it the old fashioned way is a long process, involving many emails or phone calls to prospective publishers, but may ultimately lead to the best value.
- Link baiting: Writing original, catchy content and submitting it to news sites and social media sites has become a popular way of garnering one way incoming links, and is commonly referred to as “link baiting”. Particularly effective are “how-to” articles, top 10 lists and video clip collections. The catchier the title, the better. Should you strike gold by becoming the next viral marketing darling, the huge number of links you’ll receive from other sites, blogs and networks will be priceless.
- Topic and content networks: Sites like Squidoo, HubPages and WetPaint can be categorized in a number of ways – content site, social media, etc. – but one thing is for sure – they are free and easy ways to create links pointing back to your website. If, for example, your website sells Slap Shot merchandise, you can build a resource lens about your company or a relevant topic and link using your choice of anchor text. The more your lens, hub or canvas is perceived as being an objective resource, the more traffic and incoming links it will get from other members of the network and people who stumble across it via search engines, passing the “link juice” on to your main site.
These points are a high-level starting point, but specific examples help paint a good link building picture for the uninitiated. Simply put, high quality and original content, coupled with a base knowledge of the emerging social media and voting sites that have been rushing onto the scene, can do wonders towards encouraging the outside world to link to you. Build it, and they will not come. Build it and make it helpful or entertaining to the right person and they will link to you in a heartbeat.