Dec 26, 2011

DOs and DON’Ts of Building Backlinks (to improve SEO)

Backlinks are links from related websites to your site, and they continue to be one of the most important elements in search engine rankings.  Search engines consider websites with lots of backlinks to be “authorities” or “popular.”  Unfortunately, getting backlinks from valuable website relevant to your keywords and search terms is one of the most difficult parts of search engine optimization (SEO).  Here are some major DOs and DON’Ts to help you build your backlinks.

What To Do

You don’t have control over your backlinks the way that you do over your title tags or other content on your site, so how can you get backlinks from other websites to help your SEO?

  • Create great content on your site that people would want to link to. This strategy also works for improving your organic SEO, increasing visitor engagement, and building overall traffic, so don’t ignore this step.
  • Contact site owners personally and ask them to link to you. Don’t use an automated system or send the same email to everyone. Give them a good reason to link to you, like a blog post you think would help their visitors.
  • Keep an eye out for sites that mention you without a link, or use not-so-valuable anchor text (like “click here” or your website name).  Then ask them nicely to add a keyword-rich link.
  • Include your keywords and links in press releases, and submit them to press release sites. They’ll be republished and distributed, complete with links to your site.

What Not To Do

  • Pay for links or get links from “iffy” sites. Search engines disapprove of anything that might be a shortcut or cheating, and you could be penalized by Google.
  • Focusing on quantity over quality. A few good links from popular, relevant sites will help your SEO more than many links from random sites that are unrelated to your keywords or that do not rank well in the SERPs themselves.
  • Link exchanges, link wheels, or other link schemes. These provide short-lived value, and could hurt your ranking permanently.
  • Leaving generic or spammy comments on blogs and forums. Links in comments are usually NoFollow anyway, so they won’t help your SEO. However, leaving meaningful comments is a good way to build your brand and get direct visitors.

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