You can have the best Search Engine Optimization in the world, but if your website has no backlinks from anywhere else on the Internet, it’ll never have any search engine rankings.
Does that sound like a harsh comment? It may be, but it’s the truth. So, what are backlinks? What does all of this mean and how do you make your website stand out and be profitable?
Ok, here’s the 411 on this…
Reciprocal Linking – the Old Days
Back in the day, webmasters used to setup reciprocal links to each other. This means you’d basically email another webmaster and ask if you could get a backlink from their website. If successful, they’d email you back saying they’ve posted a link to you and send you the location of that link. You’d post a link to them in return – this is what we called “reciprocal linking,” and we used to use programs like ARELIS to help us to build link popularity and build a successful website.
Today, I kind of have to say reciprocal linking is dead. There’s many reasons for this. One of the main reasons is that Google does not provide the same kind of weight to a buried reciprocal link which is probably a no follow anyways.
Follow and No Follow Links
The easiest way to tell if a link is follow or no follow is to look at the HTML code of a website. If your link is preceded by a rel=”nofollow” in the HTML, then the link to your site is a no follow. No follow is exactly how it sounds – Google won’t follow that link to your website, so it won’t really help you with link popularity.
Using Forums and Niche-Relevant sites to build backlinks and traffic
If you’re able to find a relevant forum to your niche, that’s a great place to start. There’s a bunch of benefits to using a niche related forum. The concept here is to take a look through and see what kind of questions and comments other users are posting. Let’s say for example your website is about fixing up or repairing a specific make and model of motorcycle. If you find a forum, and let’s say they have a sub-category or sub-forum specifically geared to your topic, try posting some answers and replies in there. If you’ve got good knowledge of what people are asking and able to answer questions, from time to time you can fit a link into your reply, which helps to answer a question. Even better, if you happen to find a forum where you can post your website in your signature. This way a link gets posted with every post that you make.
This is optimal of course and not always the case with every website or forum that you visit. Some forums will require you to be a regular and make a number of posts before they allow you to use HTML or etc. If the forum gets some traffic and seems busy, building up to this number may certainly be in your best interest.
Using community websites when your website is about local services or products (Geo-Location)
So if you’re attempting to appeal to people in your community, using a community based website to get the word out about your business is a great idea. There may be some Facebook groups that are linked to your neighborhood. You could try posting in business directories geared towards listing local businesses. The local newspaper’s website may allow you to post a backlink for a small nominal fee. Geo-location is something Google loves; when people search for your product or service in a local fashion, Google wants to show them geo-location and relevant results that are local.
Another thing to consider when looking at geo-location is where the IP of your website is. If your website is about local services, and you’re going for the geo-location thing, try and get a web host closer to home if possible. Try to avoid hosting your website overseas in Europe or Asia etc.
Make sure you setup a Google Property for your Local Business
Also, make sure you claim your website through Google Properties, so you don’t run into a situation where someone else falsely tries to do so. Google Properties basically allows the business owner to say “this is me” and plant your flag, so to say. It’s another way to build your website’s popularity, but also in this case to show everyone that this is me, this is my business. It’s a method of verification to show you’re a real business, and it’ll guarantee your site shows up on Google (at least somewhere).
Directory / Business Listing Websites
Submitting your website to online businesses does not hurt either. This can be time intensive, so using a service that adds your website to a bunch of directories at the same time can be good (if you use one that is not black hat). Add-me has been a good resource over the years. Be careful about spammy looking directories. Be selective about where you post your link. Having one good link can be worth having 10 or even 50 bad backlinks, especially if you’re able to get a follow link. Sometimes you may have to pay a few bucks to get a good backlink. If you play your cards right you could get a few good backlinks for under $100. Don’t spend a lot of money when you get started. There’s tons of free listing websites out there – but again, be selective. Here’s a good checklist to live by:
1. Is the directory I’m posting to relevant to my niche?
2. Does this directory have traffic? Or does it look like this website has not been visited in years – e.g page load errors, 404 errors
3. Does the directory say how long it’ll take to get me included?
I also highly recommend making a post / listing on dmoz.org. It can take several months, but once you get listed, it can be a huge boost to your website’s search engine rankings.
The “Spray and Pray” Method
So I like to refer to this method in this way because that’s essentially what you do. Try just googling what your page is about that you’re attempting to promote – and I mean one of your pages, not your home page. For every result that you find, quickly go through and see if you’re able to post a comment, a reply or anything at all with a URL. If you’re looking at a result and it’s a blog looking kind of site – try this. Some results will let you post to the page. If you’re able to get any backlinks at all using this method, chances are those links will get spidered and/or traffic as well – especially if they’re higher up in the results. You may do this for 30 minutes to only simply get one or two links. However, those links will be worth the effort you’ve put in.
In this way, you’ll also find ideas and thoughts from other webmasters that you didn’t think of. You can incorporate some of their ideas in your own content – just be sure to re-write the content. Copy + paste of anything on the Internet is bad, and there are websites that you can use to see if another webmaster has copy and pasted your content. Copyscape is a good example of a tool like that, which will scour the Internet to look for duplicate content based on the source page you provide it.