Link building continues to be one of the most recommended SEO practices, but – if you expect it to boost your page rank, you need a focused and thoughtful approach. Before you even consider benefitting from links, you need to have a substantive site with excellent content that engages your audience through entertainment or information. Without those, there is not enough link juice in the world to drive your site to the top of search engine results pages. Assuming you have carefully crafted a quality site that offers a unique and interesting user experience, you can begin to bolster your web presence through meaningful link building.
Commenting on websites you respect may seem like a great way to introduce yourself to potential audience members, but the truth is that most links you include in comment or forum sections are NoFollow. [SEO Note: No Follow – when a search engine/spider encounters a NoFollow attribute, it indexes the text, but not the link. It is a way for sites to combat spam and means no link juice for you.] This should not stop you, however, from participating in comment sections or forums. If you submit insightful and relevant remarks that actually contribute to the discussion, others will notice you and may be compelled to check out your site. That being said – smaller websites or a niche blogs may decide to remove the NoFollow code if its gatekeepers feel you are trustworthy and could provide value to their readers. So, think before you post and have reasonable expectations about how much commenting on other websites and forum participation can do for your site.
The best way to build links is to create original, well written material that is hosted on other sites. This can take the form of guest posts and pieces submitted to quality article directories. None of these are particularly quick and easy ways to promote your website, but they are worthwhile investments.
Guest posts are at the discretion of the host site, and understandably, those in charge may be very particular about guest bloggers. You need to pitch and deliver an article that the host will find interesting and relevant to its readers. If you are not able to do this, do not waste the host’s time.
Reputable article directories vet their content, so you cannot expect automatic publication, but as long as you submit quality pieces, your content will go live relatively quickly. Think of them as extensions of your main content, even if they have a different URL.
There are a few other things you should keep in mind when contributing content:
- Do your research and double-check your facts. Research truly is the foundation of valuable content. Nothing undermines a piece more than inaccuracies and inconsistencies. Intelligent discourse, on the other hand, is a surefire way to solidify your credibility and assert your worth.
- Do not duplicate content. It may be tempting to write one article and spin it into six separate pieces that may not be identical but are essentially the same. Do not do this. Plagiarizing yourself or others is truly one of the worst things you can do, especially in a post-Panda world. Not only will you hurt your page rank, but you will also sacrifice your integrity, and nothing is worth that.
- Choose your anchor text wisely. If you are submitting unique content, you can probably designate the anchor text for your links. Use keywords that are relevant to the link and article. Be specific and do not use the same anchor text in every piece. Also, keep in mind that search engines pay attention to the first occurrence of anchor text and seem to disregard subsequent appearances of the same link.
Like most SEO best practices, link building is a long-term project that requires genuine effort on your part. You cannot circumvent the process with spammy tactics or quick fixes. Instead, treat all of these contributions as an opportunity to introduce yourself to the world. They should reflect the best that your website has to offer, and anything less is a disservice to you and anyone who has to wade through them. By generating original, high quality content, you will construct a brand and web presence others will be happy to link to, often of their own volition, and your page rank will rise, one click at a time.