When you ask SEOs what matters most when it comes to optimizing a website, you'll get a myriad of responses. Let there be no doubt, though, that ensuring that your website has links from other websites is - very much - an important factor.
It's akin to a popularity contest in high school. If you have 100 folks that hang out on "freak island" saying that you're cool, that may not mean as much as if you have 10 of the "right people" saying that you're cool.
So goes link building.
So, how do you go about getting some quality links? There are a myriad of executions.
Today, let's focus on easy-to-execute ideas and showcase a few things that are working for others.
If you are just getting started with link building, or perhaps you've just launched a website, a good foundation is to begin with some of the quality directories that exist.
The only question that I've had with these directory listings is that these are, in truth, "paid links." Yet, these have never been subject to that definition by the search engines (they do still count).
In 2007, Matt Cutts wrote this (below) when asked to define "paid links":Q: Now when you say "paid links," what exactly do you mean by that? Do you view all paid links as potential violations of Google's quality guidelines?
Over the past 13 months (according to Google Analytics), my company's website has received three visitors from dir.yahoo.com, our Yahoo directory listing. Under any other circumstances, I would not pay $299 per year for three visitors. This is just one of those foundational links that I have invested in, for search engine optimization purposes, only. This is why I've questioned where the line exists between "paid link" and "good advertising."
There are people that you do business with that would be happy to link to you. Not only that, depending on the level of partnership, perhaps they will link to you from their home page (where most of the "link juice" exists).
Here are some examples of large organizations taking advantage of their network/partner sites:
If you were to look closely enough at Match.com, you would see this (below) just under the pretty graphics and "usable" portion of the match.com home page:
If you look at the home page of Expedia.com, you'll see this (below) at the very bottom here:
If you were to go the home page of Gifts.com, you'll see this (below) at the very bottom:
And so forth, and so on.
No wonder it's so difficult to compete with these guys, right? These are home page links on very authoritative websites.
One important thing to note, as well...they are each hosted on separate Class-C IP Addresses.Match.com - 18.104.22.168
If you have a bunch of websites, yet they are all hosted on the same server/Class C IP, you might consider moving these, so that you can create a network that doesn't look like you're all the "same company." The partner links described above are solid, because they give the appearance of a link from a "disassociated" website.
There are loads of methods in obtaining links for your SEO (define) efforts. I'm not suggesting that this be all that you do. Create quality content on your website that people (bloggers) might find resourceful, and you might get links. Create content on other websites (write for a publication that allows a byline). Write and distribute search engine friendly press releases. For more ideas on link building, check out the Link Building section of Search Engine Watch, ClickZ's sister site.
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Mark Jackson is the president and CEO of Vizion Interactive, Inc., a leading SEO company headquartered in Dallas, TX, with offices in Overland Park, KS and Clearwater Beach, FL. Mark joined the interactive marketing fray in early 2000 in business development with Lycos/Wired Digital and then AOL Time Warner. After having witnessed the bubble burst and its lingering effects on stability on the job front, Mark established an interactive marketing agency and has cultivated it into one of the most respected search engine optimization firms in the United States.
Vizion Interactive was founded on the premise that honesty, integrity, and transparency forge the pillars that strong partnerships should be based upon. Vizion Interactive is a full-service interactive marketing agency, specializing in search engine optimization, search engine marketing/PPC management, social media marketing, SEO friendly Web design/development, analytics installations/analysis, and other leading edge interactive marketing services, including being one of the first 50 beta testers of Google TV.
Mark is a member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association (DFWSEM), the Dallas/Fort Worth Interactive Marketing Association (DFWIMA) and is a regular speaker at the Search Engine Strategies and Pubcon conferences.
Mark received a B.A. in journalism/advertising from the University of Texas at Arlington in 1993 and spent several years in traditional marketing (radio, television, and print) prior to venturing into all things "Web."
His columns can be found in the Search Engine Watch archive.