Achieving top search engine rankings requires a combination of on- and off-page factors. On-page factors include building a crawler-friendly Web site that's wrapped around interesting, useful, and optimized content. Off-page factors are all about link building, which starts with your home page and ends with inspiring others to link to much more than just your home page.
It's commonly accepted that building a solid foundation for developing good backlinks is essential with any successful SEO (define) strategy.
So what's a good backlink?
Generally speaking, a good backlink helps increase search-referred traffic, improves your site's search engine visibility for targeted terms, and helps improve relevancy signals sent to the search engines.
At the end of the day, link building is all about increasing the number of high-quality, topically pertinent inbound links to a Web-based document to raise its visibility in SERPs (define) for specific keywords and keyword phrases. Of course, the best link building occurs naturally, even though some among us still attempt to fool nature.
Today, we'll look at some basic tactics that probably deserve a place in your link building strategy.
Directory Submission Dos and Don'ts
Yes, it's a bit boring, but good, old-fashioned directories put you firmly in control of the anchor text used to link to your site. Directories are easy enough to find, especially for local businesses, but don't forget to submit your site to general, human-reviewed directories, too.
Some of these links could be construed as paid for -- a Google taboo. If you pursue only those directories and categories that make sense for your online business, then securing links from a mix of general, topical, or niche directories, as well as local or regional directories, remains a best practice.
How do you find these directories? You could use a tool like Aaron Wall's Hub Finder to gain insight into where rival sites are listed, then go after securing the links. Or you can try some advanced search queries that reflect your target markets. For example, if your business is all about orchids, search for "inurl:submit orchids" or "inurl:directory orchids." Or you could use "directory orchids + location" to seek out geographically oriented online destinations to submit your site to.
The key is to look for directories once a week; or on a regular basis at least, and submit your site in small doses to make the process more manageable. That way, you can give each directory proper scrutiny before you submit your site to be included in the listings. Some things to look for include, but aren't limited to:
Try to avoid submitting to directories that look like link farms, link to bad neighborhoods, are off-topic, have multiple pop-ups or pop-unders, or have a lot of broken links. Remember: bad directories hurt more than help, so take your time and learn how to spot the fakes. Some things to look for include, but aren't limited to:
Right around the time Google went after those who buy and sell text links, the leading search engine also started thoroughly culling the practice of posting search results in its search results. Consequently, many established directories lost PageRank, especially those that may have had questionable business practices in play. Consider this small sample of adjustments Google made to public PageRank views between November and February:
Many viable directories didn't lose their general ability to provide targeted links or potential referral traffic for a Web site. Remember, this is a small sample of a handful of directories. All the same, it pays to do due diligence when it comes to submitting your site to targeted directories.
When you work on submitting your site to directories, take the time to find your link targets by starting small and using a spreadsheet to collect all the information you might require when updating your listings. The key to this particular link-building tactic is to seek out good linking neighborhoods from authoritative directories that act as informational hubs on the Web. It may be a bit dull, but undertaking a slow and steady course should eventually help you win the race.
Meet Your Favorite ClickZ Contributors
Many of ClickZ's leading expert contributors will be at ClickZ Live, the new online and digital marketing event kicking off in New York (March 31-April 3). Hear from the likes of: Jeremy Hull, Lisa Raehsler, Andrew Goodman, Bryan Eisenberg, Mathew Sweezey, Aaron Kahlow, Stephanie Miller, Simms Jenkins, Jeanne S. Jennings, Dave Hendricks and more!
P.J. Fusco has been working in the Internet industry since 1996 when she developed her first SEM service while acting as general manager for a regional ISP. She was the SEO manager for Jupitermedia and has performed as the SEM manager for an international health and beauty dot-com corporation generating more than $1 billion a year in e-commerce sales. Today, she is director for natural search for Netconcepts, a cutting-edge SEO firm with offices in Madison, WI, and Auckland, New Zealand.
March 19, 2014