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Link building is shaky topic these days. Google has made it clear that it will severely punish any website caught practicing link spamming techniques. Okay, so that’s all well and good. Unfortunately, many of the techniques that Google has cited to be manipulative of PageRank and therefore merit a penalty were actually considered a norm for link building.
Here are those practices that Google has warned against in the Webmaster’s Guidelines:
- Link buying – paying a website to post your links
- Link exchange – an “I scratch yours, you scratch mine” arrangement where two or more websites arrange to link to each other
- Linking with irrelevant sites and link farms
- Creating separate web pages for the purpose of cross-linking
These strategies were intended to increase a website’s backlink volume. Most of these are indeed manipulative from the outset, but link exchange used to be a norm for link building. Now though, Google has taken measures against its potential to be used to game the search engine’s system.
So, if your traditional link building strategy is now a red flag for a Penguin penalty, you will have to look for other methods of link building that will be acceptable to Google.
1. Outreach – This is the most ideal way of link building. It differs from ordinary link exchange arrangements because getting a backlink isn’t your only goal. The bigger prize is when other bloggers recognize your authority, promote your website to their readers, and allow you to guest post, among others. They eventually become reliable business contacts. When this happens, the links will just come naturally.
2. Publish Excellent Content – The reason why link building became a ranking signal is because each backlink qualifies as a vote of approval for the linked website. This was based on the assumption that webmasters will only link to web pages that contain valuable information that’s relevant to the topic discussed in their own sites. Unfortunately, people have taken advantage of links as a ranking signal and prioritized quantity over link quality.
Now, the best way to get honest-to-goodness references and backlinks is to write quality content. Matt Cutts has several excellent suggestions as to what type of content gets the most attention and references:
- How To articles
- Lists (Top 10 and the like, articles that breaks down items into lists that are easier to read)
- Blog Posts
- Videos/Video Blogs
- Research articles (containing statistics and figures from trusted sources)
- Local News (ex: your business’s involvement in a local charity)
- Controversial blog posts or other type of content
Of course, you also need to have talented writers on your team who will produce original content. Follow the rules laid down by the Panda update regarding content quality, as well as the rules of the Penguin update regarding links embedded within the content.
3. Rank for Local Search –Google rolled out the Venice update last February 2012. This update is responsible for localizing search results based on your IP address. So regardless if users are searching incognito, there’s bound to be local results included in their search queries.
4. Be a Guest Writer – As mentioned above, guest writing can be one of the perks of blogger outreach. This can be your alternative if you think you’re not getting many links to your content. If you can’t get others to voluntarily link to your content, then offer your content to be published on their blogs and websites. Of course, one of your conditions should be permission to include your website URL.
5. Be Active in Social Media – You can be straightforward in promoting links to your webpages if you do it on social media. Assuming that you have a strong following in Twitter or Facebook, you can post a brief description of your URLs. Invite your contacts and fans to check it out, and share your links on their own walls and blogs.
As you proceed with these strategies, surely you will also be able to come up with more creative ways to encourage other sites to link back to yours. It takes a combination of these qualities to get quality links for your site: clout, charm, authority, credibility, and high-quality content. If you have these, you won’t have to resort to link schemes to pull up your Page Rank.