The most common solution for website owners in regard to link building is to hire either an SEO company or a link builder to do the job. This approach might work, provided the techniques and methods implemented are in accordance with Google search quality guidelines. Those techniques will also work provided the links built count not only on the basis of quantity, but quality and relevance as well.
The down side is that hiring SEO companies and link builders can be a very expensive investment for a beginning webmaster who does not yet have a positive return on the online business. It can also be risky, because a lot of SEOs and link builders practice techniques which are in violation of Google quality guidelines. As a result, your site can be penalized if it gets involved in one of these link schemes (http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66356).
This article will list the best practices for “do-it-yourself” link building techniques, which can help your site rankings in the search engines (particularly in Google). This way, you will not only learn to build links yourself, but be actively involved in the online community/niche where your website belongs.
Remember that success using these techniques is highly dependent upon what you are doing on your website. You cannot expect a link from a reputable website with authority if all they find on your website is crappy content and cluttered ads. Remember: content is still king. Let’s get started.
Link Building Tip #1: Let Them Know That You Have Quality Content to Offer
If your site is extremely new and getting only a few visitors, it would not make sense to rely on link baiting techniques. This technique is only effective if your website already receives a lot of visitors coming from other sources.
What would make sense is to let your community know that you have quality content to offer. Why? Even sites with authority that are trusted by Google are not complete; they still need improvement, particularly when it comes to content. To do this, follow the steps below.
1. Wait until you have at least 30 or more pieces of content. Fifty high quality/originally written articles is a good start to exposing your site to your related niche. The content must meet the following specifications:
Substantial and detailed. You need to impress upon them that you have the details, and not just content with one or two paragraphs.
Useful tutorials and guides that are rare to find in authority websites. You can search websites that are related to your niche which have authority and high rankings in Google. Examine these website thoroughly for portions (i.e. topics) that are in need of content and details.
2. Show your background and history in your website’s “about” page. It helps your visitors to get to know you better and begin to trust you sooner. Show your pictures and biography. If your website is about car repairs and you are a certified car technician by profession, you can say this in your bio and provide a link to the organizations that grant your certifications.
3. Make sure that your website is easy to navigate and professional-looking. Avoid cluttering your website with too many ads; it is a big turn-off, and has an adverse impact on your professionalism. I recommend you hold off on ads until the later stages, when you are already earning a lot of links and receiving a lot of visitors. For now, I recommend you turn them off.
4. Avoid having a link page with links pointing to nonsense, spammy and unrelated websites. It is much better to have no link page at all. You need to convey a professional image to other website owners in your related niche, which you will invite to your website later.
5. Include your contact information. Some people might be willing to contact you in person. So a phone number, contact form or even an email address on your website will be useful. Avoid listing just the email address and no official business address. They need to know that you are for real.
6. Get a list of reputable, related and authoritative websites in your niche. You can use the following tools:
Google search engine – Try searching for your targeted keyword, or even the most relevant keyword that describes your website content. Get the domain names and contact information for the top 20 websites.
DMOZ – Try searching for your targeted keyword in the DMOZ search box. Select only those websites that are updated, and include both contact information and quality content. Sometimes DMOZ is not updated at all, and has a tendency to list dead sites.
Technorati – If your site is a blog, you can use the Technorati blog directory (http://technorati.com/blogs/directory/)to look for relevant blogs with high authority.
7. Now that you have a list, it is time to do your homework. Go through each website and look for opportunities for them to link to you.
Case Example 1: Suppose you are a software engineer developing an open source tool for testing printed circuit boards. Your software only runs in Ubuntu/Linux. This means your website is highly relevant to Ubuntu applications. You look for linking opportunities in Ubuntu.com and find this page: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/UbuntuEngineering. You then contact the editor in charge of that documentation and request that your application be added. Of course, your site will be added right away, because you worked hard for your website content and explained your developed software that will run on Ubuntu in a detailed manner.
Case Example 2: Codex-m developed a useful piece of website traffic monitoring software in MS Excel that will help webmasters detect out-of-control situations in their website traffic using Google Analytics data. The application is released as open source, and everybody can use it.
Codex-m decides to contact the official Google Analytics website and suggests adding the application and making it available to its users. The application is then added to its gallery, as shown here: http://www.google.com/analytics/apps/about?app_id=1080001
Case Example 3: You are an expert in Adobe Photoshop and you decide to write all your tips in a blog. You then decide to go to the Adobe Photoshop official website and examine it for linking opportunities. You land on their community page, http://www.adobe.com/community/publishing/download.html, where they allow users to submit tips. You decide to write a guest post and ad a link to your blog, like the one shown here: http://kb2.adobe.com/community/publishing/895/cpsid_89560.html
You might notice that if your website has no value or less value to offer, you will find it hard to execute this tip to get some links. Ensure that your site has some value to offer before you ask reputable websites to link to you.
Clever Reciprocal Link Exchanges
This does not mean you will trick users or search engines. Reciprocal link exchange is not always bad at all; it is “excessive” reciprocal link exchanges which are not advisable. Here is a scenario where you can cleverly take advantage of reciprocal link exchange. In one of your quality posts, you have explained something in detail, but not as well as it is explained on site X, so you decide to just put a link to website X, as it is much better explained in detail.
You then proceed to finish your content and publish it. Next, you contact the owner of website X and thank him/her for a much better explanation in one of the articles on that site, which you linked to. Both of you are experts in your niche, so invite him to check out your blog; maybe he can also link to you. Gratitude begets generosity, so it is highly possible that he/she will link to you also.
Link Building Tip #2: Get Attention from New Products or Services by Doing an Expert Review
One of the easiest ways to get links yourself is to simply search for new products or services released on the Internet and take the opportunity to write a detailed review of the services. Of course, you need to impress them, so make sure you only publish reviews of products that you find yourself happy using. Here is how you do it.
Say that your website is about mathematics, and you publish your own mathematical proofs of numerous theorems, which users look for as references in their academic studies. At first, you find it very difficult to write mathematical formulas, because they’re not properly rendered on the web page. You search the Internet and you find a newly released product about writing mathematical formulas that is 100% compatible with HTML.
You then decide to purchase it and use it for an entire week. You are happy with the product, because it helps make your job easier and very productive. You then write a review about the product in detail. You discuss the functionality offered and how the product helped you save a lot of time writing difficult formulas. You also mention the price (perhaps comparing it to other products in the niche and whether it is a good value). Of course you talk about what "edge" the product has over other products you have tested.
When you publish it, leave it for a while. Ninety percent of the time the marketing departments of the company that manufactured the product are searching for happy users; with the use of Google, they might discover your review.
What happens next? Most of the time, they will thank you for the review and decide to publish it on their company home page or other prominent pages of their website, linking back to your site. Or even better, they may make you their expert user, which allows you to submit some guest posts containing tips on how to use their product. You can always put a link to your website whenever you need to substantiate that your website content has the answer. When it is edited by them, they always allow your links because it is useful in a relevant context; therefore, the link will be editorially given.