|November 2, 2004
Your Link Building (without Getting Sandboxed)
By Andy Hagans
Link popularity has been written about ad nauseum, but most
articles address the subject from a perspective circa 2001.
The available information usually focuses on topics such as
reciprocal linking or the 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following outdated link building advice is more likely to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
Googles increasingly sophisticated algorithm has largely
caught on to PageRank brokers and has successfully filtered
out the 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 the bottom of the SERPs. For this
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 the following criteria, which are
important for keeping a site out of the sandbox:
1) The link is on a Web page that is hosted on a unique IP
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 sites topic.
4) The link is created within a week.
Numbers 1-3 are important so that your Web sites new
backlinks are independent and natural, and do not trip a
filter in the search engine algorithm; number 4 ensures that
you can move on to more advanced link building tactics
before your competition gets further ahead.
Directories have always been cited as a basic
starting point for a link popularity campaign. Listings in
the Open Directory Project and the Yahoo! Directory ensure
that a site will be spidered and indexed quickly and also
provide a reputable backlink. In the 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 the 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 the four criteria we laid out aboveeach of these
directories has a unique set of backlinks and is hosted on a
unique IP, the sites URL will be placed on a topical page,
and all of the 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
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 relevantafter all, its
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 the newswires syndication partners as well. The
writer should be sure to include a link in the body of the press
release in http://www.mysite.com format.
Again, these backlinks meet the 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 the
Open Directory Projects category of press
release services .
Another great method for gaining quality backlinks,
as well as publicity, is to write and publish a helpful
article. The author can write a relevant, informative piece
on your Web sites subject, which of course includes a link
to your Web site in http://www.mysite.com format. General
how-to sites (and often, news sites in your particular
niche) accept article submissions and will often reprint a
relevant, well-written piece. Its free content for them,
and a backlink for youa win-win situation. The author of
THIS article swears by this method, and once again notes
that it fits all four of our criteria for a timely and
quality backlink. Aaron Wall of SEO Book has provided a list
of Web sites that accept article submissions at
Just Say No
Although it may be tempting, you should stay
away from reciprocal linking, except in the rare case where
the link is relevant and helpful to your visitors. Likewise,
you should avoid renting links from link brokers or
networks; the links they sell are usually filtered by
Google. These two types of links will have a minimal impact
on your search engine rankings anyway and may even get your
Web site sandboxed.
Instead, seek quality one-way inbound links by the methods
described in this article; if you have exhausted these
tactics, or if you have run out of money, you can always beg
for links from relevant Web sites. If your site contains
quality, original content, you may not even need to beg!
The success of a search engine optimization
campaign depends greatly upon link popularity. Getting a Web
site listed in directories, distributing press releases and
submitting articles for syndication are three ways to gain a
slew of legitimate backlinks from unique IPs relatively
quickly. This will keep the site out of the sandbox and
give any SEO campaign a sound link structure to build upon.
About the Author
Andy Hagans is a search engine optimization consultant who
specializes in link building and risk management. Visit
http://www.andyhagans.com/ for more
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