As I mentioned in the previous post, SEO experts tend to divide search engine optimization techniques into off site and on site techniques. Off site techniques are as the name suggests factors from outside the site itself (and usually on other sites) that impact the blog’s ranking in search engines. Many of these factors are outside the blogger’s control – however they are useful to know. The most obvious and probably most powerful offsite factor are Inbound Links.
It is generally agreed that the links that point to a website are one of the most powerful way of climbing Search Engines results pages (in fact many argue it is THE most important factor). – To put it most simply – every link to your site is seen by the search engines as being a vote of confidence in your site.
Ideally Speaking – The best inbound links are those that are from higher ranked sites than your own that are relevant to the topic you are writing about who link to you using relevant keywords. Whilst you may not have complete control over who links to you these are the types of links that you should be dreaming of.
How to generate quality inbound Links?
Of course whilst most of us know this it doesn’t make getting such links any easier – its in the hands of others in many cases. So how do you get such links?
- Quality Content – There are all kinds of link generating systems out there but in my opinion the best way to get links to your blog is to write quality content that people will want to read. You can solicit links with others or sign up for different link building programs or even buy text links on other sites but the cheapest and probably safest approach is to build inbound links in a natural organic way as others link to your quality content.
- Notify Relevant Bloggers of your content – Whilst I don’t advocate spamming other bloggers and asking for links – I would recommend that if you write a quality post on a topic that you know will interest another blogger that it might be worth shooting them a short and polite email letting them know of your post. Don’t be offended if they don’t link up, but you might just find that they do and that in addition to the direct traffic that the link generates that it helps build your own page rank in the search engines.
- Directories – Another way to generating inbound links is to submit your links to directories. I know of webmasters who swear by the benefits of such a strategy – the first thing that they do when starting a new site is to do the rounds of directories – submitting links to key pages with appropriate keywords in the links. There are loads of directories out there – many of which offer a free submission. Ari Paparo has compiled a list of blog directories that you might want to start with.
- Inter-link your Blogs – Increasingly bloggers are starting or joining blog networks to enjoy the benefits of multiple sites and writers working together. One of the advantages of networks of sites is that they usually link to one another. In doing so you have complete control over how your sites are linked to from multiple domains. It is worth noting that you should be careful with this approach – if all your sites are hosted on the one server many think that Search Engines will work out what you’re doing and the impact will be lessened.
- Buy Links – Many professional web masters have a budget to purchase links from other highly ranked and and relevant sites. I won’t go into this too much here but you might like to read more about it in my recent post On Buying Text Links.
- Swap Links – Similarly many bloggers swap links with other bloggers. Sometimes this happens pretty naturally (you see someone linking to you so you link back) but in many cases the links are strategic ones and formally arranged between site owners. I get daily requests for such reciprocal links (I rarely act on them). Whilst there is some benefit in such link swapping I would again advise caution here as many SEO experts believe that the search engines have methods for tracking such strategies and devaluing the links. Some try to get around this by doing indirect or triangulated links. ie instead of site A and B doign a direct swap they involve other sites. So A links to C in exchange for D (also owned by C) linking to B (also owned by A) – makes your head hurt doesn’t it!?! There are also a variety of systems around that say they’ll take care of such interlinking for you – I know many who use Digital Point’s Free C0-Op Advertising system. Personally I tend to avoid such schemes and have a policy of linking to sites I think are valuable to my readers. If they link back then so be it.
If you’re looking for link exchange/buying/selling programs you might like to look at systems like:
I’m sure there are other off site Search Engine Optimization techniques that I’ve not covered here – feel free to add your own suggestions and experiences in comments below. My next posts in this series will move onto describing various on site techniques.