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How to Build Links Using Articles, Blogs and Directories

Mar 1, 2008
With all the talk about link building, in my summation there are only a handful of ways to truly build value for your website that won't get you penalized from search engines.

When you think about it, the only reason to link build is search engines, if they didn't exist, then the competitive basis of being first or in the top 10 for that matter would not matter. However, since it does, then there are a few strategies that are known for producing consistent results worth noting.

Blogging your way to the top

In case you don't know what a blog is, you are more than likely reading one now. Blogs (abbreviated from Web-Logs) are a wonderful tool that allow you to share your innermost thoughts about a subject with readers from diverse backgrounds.

In addition they are more than just an editorial tool, they are a website development tool, a social networking tool as well as a search engine optimization tool with a plethora of implications.

The way it works is, if a blog is hosted on your server within your site, then every time you post a page, you are adding a page to your website.

This is great as it allows you to deep link (link to pages in your root directory or sub directories) to provide valuable life support to pages that may be sinking in the SERPs (search engine result pages) or just need a great third party referral to give them a boost.

Every time you deep link, your entire site gets a lift, since sub directories are oftentimes seen as different sites that your root folder of your website. This means that strategic cross linking can benefit both i.e. linking from your blog to your other folders or vice versa.

The main thing to consider when writing a blog is moderate keyword density which essentially breaks down to (if you want to rank for a term, put it on your pages at least 4-6 times for every 800-1000 words).

Although keyword density is another subject entirely, the point is keep on topic and use header tags or headlines when applicable to assist the overall keyword proximity. Once you write your post, use your main keywords in the title to get the most impact from search engines, since the title tag is your life preserver if a search happens to fly overhead and drop a line.

Think of it like a beacon or homing signal, but the more words you use, the less potent they become as the ranking potential is spread out amongst the words. From there, add your tags, using the strongest keywords, publish it and off you go.

Articles and Article Marketing

Articles are essentially like excellent third party endorsements. They are a win / win situation for both parties since the site hosting it appears as an authority (from the fresh and relevant content) and your website gets a link back their site from the author's bio, resource box.

Article marketing is just one tier of an overall marketing strategy, however it provides search engine visibility and links.

Make sure to use your main keywords in the anchor text of the resource box when mentioning your company or services and get an added boost from the back link as most articles are syndicated throughout the web and can continue to provide value for weeks or months after they are created.

Online Web Directories

Web directories have seen better days and are now under scrutiny from search engines as glorified link farms. As the shift from quality was monetized into paying for premier listings, the quality slid for most directories and anyone and everyone with a few bucks was granted access to a link.

As a result search engines have applied filters to offset the value that links pass from directories to eliminate people from gaming links (abusing the system) in an attempt to to inflate link popularity.

Don't get me wrong, although they have seen better days, this does not and should not preclude you from using them, just be aware if your motive is to gain a preferential advantage, your better off sticking to quality content on your website and building links between themed sites, which leads us to the next point.

Contextual Advertising from On Topic Sites or Blogs

You would think that no such penalty would exist for sites that are seeking out other websites with similar content and strategically creating an alliance for the betterment of each other.

In the past that was considered reciprocal linking, it also has fallen under the scrutiny of search engine algorithms due to abuse in the past. A new form of link development emerged called contextual advertising or contextual link building.

Contextual link building is in essence, the use of writing on topic information and in the midst of the paragraph, thesis, article etc. Doing a little name dropping to give the site your link is pointed at a boost.

An example of this would be to drop a line about one of my favorite SEO Blogs like so and pass on a bit of link love to the recipient. But the point being, this method of link development is bar far on of the most effective mechanisms available for websites struggling to find methods to build links ethically.

The difference between ethical blogging and unethical blogging is one has value the other does not. It doesn't take a genius to decipher if a blog or link is on topic, contextual and useful vs. inflated, self serving or just plain spam.

Last but not least, let's discuss:

One Way Permanent Links or Paid Links.

Without debating if you should or should not purchase links, barter or just plain call the person up, build a relationship and work out some type of agreement. Let's just say that this method is one of the most effective methods for gaining high page rank links with targeted anchor text directed toward your website.

In a nutshell, this can dramatically impact your search engine placement and skyrocket your site into the limelight granted that it is done tactfully and not too fast.

Ethically it is challenged by white hat SEO and is definitely somewhere in a gray area of link building. But with so many of the other traditional alternatives drying up, many websites are turning to paid links as an alternative.

My only suggestion, if your going to aim at all, aim high, be tactful, don't build links too fast using any of the methods outlined above, otherwise you may not even be able to find your own site using your company name (otherwise known as banned).

Like anything, use moderation, create a nice mixture of editorial links, directories, one way links from authority sites (by writing articles about them, making contact, or befriending the webmasters wholeheartedly) and you could be on the receiving side of a boost in the SERPs.
About the Author
Jeffrey L. Smith is an seasoned SEO Consultant and founder of SEO Design Solutions. Jeffrey has been involved in internet marketing since 1995 and brings fresh optimization methods and SEO Web Design Services to businesses seeking organic search engine placement.
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