Developing Your Link Building Strategy

It's no secret that building high quality links to your website is one of the best ways to improve your ranking in search results and get more organic search traffic to your site. Unfortunately, the sheer volume of misguided and outdated SEO information that exits can easily lead a website owner down an unproductive link building path. The search engines are advancing and developing their ranking formulas at a faster pace than ever before and practices that may have been considered the "golden standard" of search optimization could now potentially put your website at risk of not showing up in search results at all for your coveted terms and keyword phrases. The goal of this article is to provide advice that will help you develop an effective link building strategy and keep you from making mistakes that could cost you a lot of time and valuable traffic.

Not too long ago, link building meant you could simply exchange links with other websites, submit your site to a group of online directory sites, or bookmark your site on a variety of social networking sites. Over the course of the last several years, the importance of having keyword rich anchor text has been drilled into our heads to the point where for some SEO experts; it has almost become second nature. As has often been the case, the rules are changing once again and the same practices that may have vaulted your site to the top of the search ranking for your target keywords as recently as a few months ago could now land your site square in the middle of a search engine spam filter. Before you decide to scrap your link building efforts entirely, I will point out that link building remains one of the most important factors in search engine optimization and doesn't appear as if it will be phased out anytime soon. What has changed is the ability of the search engines to detect practices that appear to be designed to manipulate search results.

Some of you may be wondering what the difference is between SEO and manipulating search results. After all, isn't the goal of search optimization to get your site to rank better? While it can be a fine line at times, the major search engines seem to be willing to accept SEO provided that you are creating value in the process and not spam. Do you see the difference? Creating unique and insightful articles that relate to the content of your website and providing a link back to your site is considered to be an activity that creates value. Submitting your site to a thousand web based directories or commenting gibberish on thousands of blogs is viewed as creating spam. As long as your SEO activities center on providing value, for the most part you should be able to avoid being cast into a Google black hole. With that being said, you still have to be mindful of exactly how you go about building high quality and effective links.

The "No-Follow" trap – If you have done any serious online marketing or SEO, you are probably aware of the "No-Follow" tag. This tag is used by a growing number of websites to designate links that are of unknown quality. Essentially what it means is that the linking site has not taken the time or is unwilling to vouch for the credibility of the site it is linking to. When the tag is present, it instructs search engines not to count the link as a vote for the site and not to pass any link juice that could boost the ranking of the site. Notice that I referred to it above as the "No-Follow" trap. The reason for that designation is that most online marketers will avoid the tag as if it were a disease and never create a link to their website that bears the dreaded tag. This is one of the biggest mistakes you can make in your SEO activities. Why you ask? Considering the massive amount of data Google has available to them to evaluate, they have a pretty good idea as to what percent of websites utilize the "No-follow" tag. Let's say for sake of argument that it's somewhere around 90%. If the vast majority of available links are using the tag, they can use this information to quickly and easily filter out sites that fall well outside of a normal range and designate them as spam. If 90% of the available links on the web are "No-Follow" tagged and none of the links pointing to your website have the tag, the search engines have the ability to quickly identify and filter your site from appearing in search results until it falls back into an acceptable range. The best way to avoid this trap is to go about your business of building quality content and links and make sure you have a balanced mix of links that are both followed and "No-Follow". While the argument can be made that a "No-Follow" link is "worthless" in terms of providing any SEO value, failure to have any pointing to your site could create a mountain of headaches for you in your link building efforts.

The Anchor Text Trap – Here is another deadly SEO mistake than can quickly damage the effectiveness of your link building efforts. I know many online marketers who will only build links using only the specific keyword phrase they wish to rank for as their anchor text. While this technique may work well for the first link or two, anything more than that becomes overkill and puts you in danger or falling outside of the secret, yet clearly defined acceptable ranges the search engines have installed in search ranking algorithms. As you embark on your campaign to build quality inbound links, be sure to pay careful attention to how websites normally link to each other. While it is true that contextual links often use anchor text of some sort, it usually varies quite a bit from site to site depending on who is linking to you. In addition, most naturally occurring link profiles will contain some links where the anchor is simply the URL itself or a generic phrase like, "visit the site now" or "read this article for more information".

The key to success is to keep your link profile looking natural. SEO experts who can master this concept will find that success comes quickly and excellent search rankings can be achieved with less work than you may have thought. For those who are unwilling to adapt, you are sure to encounter a lot of frustration and wasted time as your websites vanish from search ranking altogether. The fastest path to a winning link building strategy is to spend your time focusing on quality and avoid looking for cookie cutter solutions.

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