Okay, I know I don’t have many blog readers, and I don’t usually throw too many tips out, so here’s a little treat on which links work at present and link profiling:
Different types of links
Google appears to naturally distrust sitewides, so these work best if the target site has a lot of trust already. Okay to use for sites that are already established for lower end competitive keywords, but not worth using for newer websites, though;
2. Homepage links
These can work nicely as well. I haven’t set up many for new sites, but they certainly work for trusted sites. Throw them into the mix where you can.
3. Blog post links
Blog post links can work, but they really have the most impact while they’re on the frontpage. Also, you need a lot of blog posts to really have an impact, and the only services that offer blog posts in volume are basically link farms which represent limited short-term value.
4. Paid Directories
I think Google has killed link benefits from all of the big paid-for directories. Smaller ones could be okay from smaller directories, but again trust kicks in pretty heavily for newer sites, which are unlikely to see much immediate benefit.
5. Free directories
Free directory services deliver short-term junk of little ranking value for Google. The real use for these services is to deliver some PR if you’re reselling links. It’s pretty temporary, really, though, and after less than a year you can lucky to get PR1 from these.
6. Presell pages
These work nicely where I’ve set them up for client sites. Generally you’re looking at established sites with basic PR (3+) to really get any kind of decent impact. Advantage is that you can set up presell pages in volume if you can access inventory (such as having developed your own).
7. Dynamic links
Dynamic links actually work really well for trusted sites, but the big secret tip here is that they work best if accompanied by a coherent sentence which relates to the keywords.
8. Article writing
I include article writing and syndication basically because everyone else is doing it, not because I’m measuring any direct benefits. Still, a couple of ways you can leverage this is to republish your own articles on your own sites to provide content, and you can set up links to your author pages.
Generally, as a rule of thumb, try and get links from site with as old a search history in Google as possible. That means if buying links you can pretty much forget sites less than 12 months old for effectiveness – get 2+ year old sites minimum.
Also check archive.org for the site record – there are a lot of sites coming up on the market for link sales which are dropped or repurchased domains and lots of these have been parked and useless.
Search history is really important, not simply for the source of the links, but also where you’re pointing them.
Building a decent link profile
Links work well for Google, but you really need to bear in mind the link profile you’re building for the site.
The big challenge is the mix the link strategies, because as Google devalue one strategy you can build strength via the mix of others.
Here’s a really big tip some may not be aware of: you need links from the regions you’re targeting. That means links from UK sites or .uk domains for ranking on Google UK. For US searchers on Google.com you really need US sites and IP locations. (I think Yahoo! may also be using something like this).
Spammy links can work. But spammy links are only ever going to be a short term solution. One of the best strategies is to do manual searches in your keyword vertical and look for other sites that may place a link up for you.
One of the simplest link gains I got for a client for finding a UK university page ranking in their keyword area. The info was a little out of date, so I contacted the professor writing the pages and suggested a revised article, plus a couple of reference links which included my client and two bottom-end competitors. 10 mins easy work for a decent uni page.
Here’s another tip – if you run any communities, try and get people in your community linking to your target sites from their blogs and similar. This really works best when your promoting the community site, which you can potentially leverage clients with. Using this method I got one of my sites linked to from a PR7 page on a major US university. Of course, that’s because the site had real value for the uni audience.
Also, you can try and get links from local media, some of which are connected with national publishers. I got a link from the BBC by contacting a local reporter and telling him about one of my sites which had some real story value. Talk up figures – journalists don’t know the difference between unique visitors, pageviews and hits, so add up your traffic (if a point of the story) to create more impressive figures.
Another important point about links is to avoid setting up too close a network. Google started recognising and devaluing network links back in October 2005, so those link exchange links by themselves are probably pretty redundant. But that also means you should be careful about how you link out to third-party sites.
For example, if you get your target site linked to from some decent third party sites – social media sites, for example, then don’t link directly to these from your target site – you’re basically setting up a link exchange network of little real value. Instead set up other sites to link to these, and work that way.
Also, bear in mind that while Google still eats up links, where the trust allows, you need to think more and more about delivering value on your target sites. User data is a huge resource that Google are almost certainly trying to tap into, so if you do get working links and traffic from them, try to impressive the visitors who arrive by retaining as many as possible as repeat visitors. That means targeting, usefulness, features, and calls to action as appropriate.
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