Backlinks are the currency of the internet – no matter how search engine ranking factors change in the future, the fact will always remain that search engine spiders rely on backlinks to find new sites and evaluate the popularity of the sites in their indexes.
What this means is that you’re never going to go wrong by focusing on your backlink building efforts. Of course, not all links are created equal, but by pursuing one-way, high PageRank links using the methods described below, you’ll improve your site’s reputation in the eyes of the search engines, ultimately leading to higher rankings and more traffic to your own pages.
Here’s how to get started:
Method #1 – Share Content as a Guest Author
The old model of article marketing (spamming thousands of spun versions of an article to low quality directories) is out, and guest posting is in. As a guest author, you provide another site owner with free content in exchange for a backlink back to your site. You benefit from receiving a relevant backlink, as well as traffic from readers who enjoy your content and click back to your main site.
To get started as a guest author, identify popular blogs in your industry (obviously, it’s best to find websites that are related to your topic, but not direct competitors) and contact the site owners to see if they accept guest posts. Some sites may even have guest posting guidelines already published for your review. In your email, propose a topic based on content that’s already popular on the site or that covers a topic that hasn’t yet been discussed on the original site.
Once you and the site owner have agreed to a topic, write a high quality post and send it back with the HTML markup for your formatting and backlinks completed. As soon as your article goes live, start looking for another site to post content on as a guest author.
Method #2 – Comment on Related Blogs
Commenting on related blogs is another great way to build both traffic and backlinks back to your site – plus, it’s free and easy to do! To get started, you’ll need to identify the most popular blogs in your niche. The Google Blog Search or the Best of the Web blog directory can help you identify these sites, as can searching for the most popular Twitter feeds in your industry.
As you’re searching for blogs, keep in mind that for best results, you’ll want to find blogs that are updated regularly, that have a high PageRank and that encourage comments. Then, when it comes to actually leaving comments, try to be as helpful as possible by leaving a thoughtful reply that expands on the post’s content or shares additional information in order to build your authority in the blog’s readers’ eyes and drive more traffic back to your site.
Method #3 – Write Viral Content
Having a piece of content “go viral” is one of the fastest ways to build backlinks to your site, but actually getting your articles picked up and shared from person-to-person isn’t always easy. To improve your chances of building massive backlinks via social sharing, consider the following tips:
Method #4 – Participate in Forums
As with blog commenting, participating in niche forums is a great way to get your website in front of your target visitors and build backlinks to your site. To start, search Google for “your niche + forum” and identify the top forums in your industry. Again, look for sites that are popular and active – there’s no reason to start posting to forums where no one is hanging out!
Once you’ve identified a few popular forums, start responding to forum threads with helpful answers. Include a link to your site in your signature, but don’t spam. People come to forums to find answers to their questions – not sales pitches – so you’ll get the best results by positioning yourself as an authority and waiting for people to follow the links back to your site.
Method #5 – Be Active on Social Networking Sites
Social networking sites are great places to build backlinks, as they make it easy for users to share interesting content amongst one another. But as mentioned previously, this content isn’t just going to share itself! For best results, you need to spend time cultivating an active, engaged social network that’s interested in what you have to say. Plan to invest at least 20-30 minutes a day building your social media presence in order to see results from this strategy.
Method #6 – Bookmark Your Best Content
Bulk social bookmarking isn’t as powerful of a strategy as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean that these sites no longer have value. Instead of mass submitting every piece of content you produce to thousands of different social bookmarking sites, take the time to build a profile on the biggest social bookmarking sites – including Digg and Stumbleupon – and then use your presence there to promote only your best pieces of content.
In general, you’ll find that your articles get much more interest using this selective posting strategy than they’ll generate when submitted cold.
Method #7 – Hold a Giveaway
Who doesn’t love the chance to win free prizes?! One easy way to build backlinks to your site is to hold a giveaway drawing. For example, everyone who links back to your site will be entered to win a $25 Amazon gift card or some other prize.
(Note – As long as you don’t charge money for drawing entries, you should be protected from online gambling laws, but be sure to check any applicable raffle laws in your area before conducting a drawing to be safe.)
One final thing to keep in mind when it comes to backlink building is that the last thing you want to do is to go out and purchase links. Running a simple search for “buy backlinks” in Google will show you just how many services there are out there promising to send these valuable links your way. And while their promises may be tempting, know that Google doesn’t approve of these phony links. Buy too many spammy links, and you could find your site hit with a major penalty in the SERPs.
Instead, focus on building high-quality, relevant backlinks to your site, using the methods described above. With time, you’ll see your efforts pay off big in terms of growing your traffic and reader base, as well as where your site falls in the natural search results.
Image: Matt Mattila