Online Marketing Lesson 34: Link Building Part 3

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In this lesson, we continue to cover link building strategies that you can use on your websites.

7. Social Bookmarking Sites

Social bookmarking sites allow users to store and share bookmarks of pages from around the web. Different social bookmarking services have different features. Most of them use a system of tags to organize the data. Many use a voting system where users can vote pages up or down, and the most popular stories usually get promoted to the front page of the website. Some sites even let their users create communities and exchange messages.

Regardless of the individual features, all social bookmarking sites have a backlink pointing to the URL of the page that was submitted. Some sites use the nofollow attribute on the external links, but many don’t, and you can build links by submitting your articles to these websites.

You might be asking yourself: “Should I submit every new article on my site to those social bookmarking services?” The answer is “no.” Use this strategy once in while (e.g., every 15 or 30 days), and reserve it for your best content. This is to make sure that your link portfolio will look as natural as possible.

Finally, if you want to speed up the process, you can use an online tool called SocialMarker, which will streamline the submission process for you. The only limitation is that it only covers 19 dofollow social bookmarking sites, so make sure to complement it with the ones found on our list.

8. Forum Links and Signatures

Most online forums do not use the nofollow attribute on links that are posted inside the forum threads. If you post a link there pointing to your website, therefore, search engines will take it into consideration. The important thing here is to make sure that you become part of the community before you post those links. If you join a forum and start dropping links in your very first post you will probably get banned. Secondly, make sure to link to your website only when appropriate. For example, try to find threads that are discussing a topic that you already covered in one of your posts, and then add a link to that post along with some useful information.

You can also build links with forum signatures. Most online forums allow their members to create custom signatures that will be displayed below their posts, and usually, you can also include one or more links to your own websites. Just make sure to read the forum guidelines and comply with what is recommended there.

If you want to find some forums in related niches, check the Big-Boards.com website. They have over 2,000 online forums listed in their database.

9. Social Network Profiles

Social networks are among the most popular websites on the Internet, and most of them allow their users to create a profile page where they can share personal information, interests, and even include links to the websites that they own. After filtering out the social networks that nofollow those profile links, therefore, we will be left with a list of social networks that can be used for link building purposes.

10. Link Exchanges

Many webmasters think that link exchanges are obsolete and no longer effective for linkbuilding. This is not true. What is obsolete is the “old school” method of exchanging links, which basically consisted of mass emailing website owners and trading links with whoever would reply to your emails, regardless of the quality and relevance of their website. This method does not work anymore because search engines are able to identify link exchange patterns easily.

Furthermore, if large amount of your backlinks come from exchange deals with low quality or unrelated sites you could be penalized for that.

A better and still effective method to exchange links is to select quality link partners over time. In the previous lesson we explained how you should build a network of contacts inside your niche. Once you have a trusted relationship with some of those bloggers and site owners, simply ask them whether they would be interested in “recommending” each others’ sites via a homepage link, for example. Calling it a “partnership” or “cross recommendation” is a good idea because it removes the negative connotation the term “link exchange” has (mainly due to the spammers that always use that sentence in their emails).

You can use that alternate terminology even on the actual links that you will display on your homepage. For instance, you could call them “Recommended Sites,” “Friends” or “Blogroll.”

There are some other measures that you should use to make sure that Google will not become suspicious of those links. First of all use the name of the blog or website as the anchor of your links, and ask your partners to do the same. Optimizing the anchor text for keyword targeting is a bad idea here. A “Blogroll” link with the anchor “Cheap Car Parts” could get you in trouble very fast.

Secondly, make sure that you will only exchange links with trusted and relevant websites. Google would find it very strange, for instance, if on the sidebar of your fitness website you recommend a company that offers mortgages.

Finally, you can also opt to use a single link on the homepage, as opposed to having a sitewide link. This is not necessary, but it does reduce the risk of having problems with the link exchanges.

11. Page Level Link Exchanges

Apart from exchanging links at website level, you can also exchange them at page level. That is, instead of creating a “Friends” section in your homepage sidebar and linking to your partners from there, you could link from inside your individual pages to their individual pages, and vice-versa.

There are two main steps to this method. For the sake of simplicity let’s assume that you have just one link partner (though obviously you can have more).

In the first step, you will tell your partner a couple of pages where you would like to receive links, and he will tell you a couple of pages where he would like to receive links.

In the second step, you will analyze the pages where your partner wants to receive links, trying to match them with related pages on your own site where you would be able to place the link. Your partner would do the same with your requests. After that, you will just need to implement the links and send the URLs to your partner so he can check them out.

This technique is particularly useful to give an SEO boost to your posts that are already well positioned in the Google search results. For example, suppose that you have a blog and that one of your posts titled “How To Lose Weight” is placed in the 7th position of Google for that same search query. You could ask your link partner to find some related pages on his site and link to that blog post. He could place the links in articles about fitness, health, nutrition and so on.

A major advantage here is the fact that the links will be blended with the main content of the pages, and this carries a lot of SEO value. Secondly, your partner will be able to link to your page using a very targeted anchor text without looking spammy. For instance, he could add a final paragraph to his nutrition article saying:

And if you want to read more on this topic, check out this post that I found titled “How to lose weight.”

Search engines would expect the link to be placed in the title of the post, so the optimized anchor text would look natural.

12. Squidoo and HubPages

Squidoo.com and HubPages.com are two similar services that allow users to publish overview pages around specific topics where they have an interest or expertise. On Squidoo those pages are called “lenses,” and on HubPages, they are called “hubs.” Both of the services follow the links on the pages, so you can use them for link building purposes.

You could create pages on topics that are related to your website, for example, and then link either to your homepage (as a suggested resource) or to some internal pages on your website that have complementary information.

The only thing to keep in mind while using those services is that you need to meet some requirements before they will follow your links.

On Squidoo, lenses that have not been published yet or that contain fewer than three modules will be defined as WIP (which stands for Work In Progress). Links placed in WIP lenses will have the nofollow attribute. Adding modules and publishing your lens takes a relatively small amount of time, though. Once you have done it, wait 24 hours for your lens to go out of the WIP status.

Getting links followed on your hubs take more effort. Basically, HubPages has a ranking system called Hubscore, and each user is assigned a rank which ranges from 0 to 100. If you want to have the links inside your hubs followed, your account must have a Hubscore of 75 or higher. The factors that affect the account Hubscore are:

  • the amount of hubs published,
  • the amount of traffic that your hubs will receive,
  • the percentage of the traffic that will come from external sources,
  • the number of backlinks pointing to your hubs,
  • the length and quality of your hubs, and
  • the number of thumbs-up votes that your hubs will receive.

You will need to put some work into your hubs if you want to use them for link building purposes, but if you have time available it will be worth the investment. After all, you will end up with content rich pages in a trusted domain that you can use to link to your own website or to specific internal pages.

Action Points

  1. Register an account on the social bookmarking sites that follow external links, and once you publish a good post, bookmark it on all those sites.
  2. Find a couple of forums in a niche related to your website and start contributing to the discussions and becoming part of the community. After a while add a signature with a backlink to your website, and if appropriate include links on single threads too.
  3. Register an account on the social networks that follow links and create your profile with a backlink pointing to your site.
  4. Once you have a solid relationship with some people on your contact list, ask whether or not they would be interested in becoming link partners. Explore both site level and page level link exchange opportunities.
  5. If you have time available consider creating an account on Squidoo and/or HubPages and create some lenses or hubs on topics that are related to your website. Once you meet the dofollow requirements add backlinks to your website or to internal pages.

Navigation Links

Previous Lesson: Linkbuilding Part 2

Next Lesson: Linkbuilding Part 3