Link popularity has been written about ad nauseum, but most articles address subject from a perspective circa 2001. The available information usually focuses on topics such as reciprocal linking or current price of a PR6 link. But following outdated link building advice is more likely to get your Web site penalized than it is to help you gain top rankings.
Google’s increasingly sophisticated algorithm has largely caught on to PageRank brokers and has successfully filtered out benefits of many bought links, as well as those of reciprocal links. The risk of obtaining these types of links is even greater for a new site, as detection of an “unnatural” link structure has recently gotten many sites “sandboxed” to bottom of SERPs. For this reason, a link popularity campaign must be conducted carefully and yield relevant, “natural” links.
The methods described in this article will give your Web site backlinks that fit following criteria, which are important for keeping a site out of “sandbox”:
1) The link is on a Web page that is hosted on a unique IP address. 2) The link is on a Web page that itself has a unique, wholly independent set of backlinks. 3) The link is on a Web page that is at least loosely relevant to your Web site’s topic. 4) The link is created within a week.
Numbers 1-3 are important so that your Web site’s new backlinks are independent and natural, and do not trip a filter in search engine algorithm; number 4 ensures that you can move on to more advanced link building tactics before your competition gets further ahead.
Directories Directories have always been cited as a basic starting point for a link popularity campaign. Listings in Open Directory Project and Yahoo! Directory ensure that a site will be spidered and indexed quickly and also provide a reputable backlink. In past few years however many general and niche directories have sprung up, most charging a yearly or one-time fee to be listed. Webmasters have questioned ROI from being listed in these second-tier directories, as most provide little traffic and charge 10-50 USD per listing.
But listings in these directories provide important link popularity benefits for a Web site. A link from a directory fits four criteria we laid out above—each of these directories has a unique set of backlinks and is hosted on a unique IP, site’s URL will be placed on a topical page, and all of directories review and add new submissions within a week. With directory listings alone, a new Web site can gain a few dozen quality backlinks for under 1000 USD (not counting Yahoo!). Aaron Wall of SEO Book has provided a good list of directories at http://www.seobook.com/archives/000166.shtml.
Press Releases Press Releases provide an opportunity to announce your Web site, and just as importantly, provide a backlink to your Web site from a relevant page (it had better be relevant—after all, it’s an article about your Web site!). A press release should be well-written and submitted to multiple newswires. In less than a week, it will be published on its own Web page by each newswire and possibly by newswires’ syndication partners as well. The writer should be sure to include a link in body of press release in http://www.mysite.com format. Again, these backlinks meet four criteria we laid out above. Newswires usually charge a fee to publish a press release, although a few offer this service for free. You can view Open Directory Project’s category of press release services at http://dmoz.org/Computers/Internet/Web_Design_and_Development/Promotion/Press_Release_Services/.