03 May 2008

Top 3 Google Linking Strategies of 2008

If you're serious about getting great ranking on Google you need to be serious about linking. Of course there are lots of ways to get links so we'll focus on just the methods that are fast, low cost or free and get the best results. Here are three that can put you on top of Google in no time flat!

First let's start with getting inbound links from directories. A link from a directory gets a lot of weight from Google because they value it as a form of endorsement. You've probably used some directories yourself, like Yahoo. Or maybe you've used some without even knowing it, like The Open Directory Project (DMOZ.org) that powers many of the most popular search engines, including Google!

Each directory is different and offers different options for obtaining links to your site. Here's a rundown of how different directories will link to your site...

1.) Free Submission: Just like it sounds. No charges for inclusion. DMOZ.org is the best one and powers Google, AOL and even Yahoo Search (not Yahoo directory.) Just be sure to follow their submission guidelines and pick the most appropriate sub category possible for inclusion. This is extremely important.

2.) Paid Submissions: They charge a fee to review the submitted link and possibly place the page. You might pay a few dollars one tíme, a recurring annual fee or as much as the $300 that Yahoo charges for commercial site review.

3.) Reciprocal Link: These usually require you to link to the directory before they will even consider linking back.

4.) Featured Link: Your link gets a premium spot that you pay for.

5.) Featured Homepage Link: This is a featured link on the homepage. As you've probably guessed, this can get real expensive.

Yahoo is easily the most popular (and most expensive) but it's not the best. It's been my experience that a free listing with DMOZ.org is worth more than a paid listing with Yahoo. Even though Yahoo is more popular as a directory that people actually visit, DMOZ is much more popular with search engines and carries a lot of weight. A "vote" from DMOZ is a big deal indeed.
Here are the five top directories offering free listings. Some even provide inexpensive expedited listing services or featured listings:

1.) dmoz.com
2.) directoryvault.com
3.) domaining.in
4.) getlistedrightnow.com
5.) visitalink.com

There's a site that keeps an updated list of directories, but not all are free. You have to visit each to see if there is any cost. Go to TopWebSiteTips and scroll down to the drop down box at the bottom of the page. Select your desired Google PR and search. If you want to avoid getting niche directories in the results, check the "General Directories Only" box after your first return set and rerun the search.

As a second option, you can also consider paying a submission service to get your site lísted in the major directories. There are plenty that will do it for a reasonable fee. Just be sure they do the following three things:

1.) Manual submission only.
2.) Verify that your site is not already listed.
3.) Provide proof of submission (usually screen captures).

Just search Google for "directory submission service" and you'll get plenty of options. I've used SEONext.com/ in the past with good success. They provide a "slow submission" service that makes your link building appear more natural to Google and other top search engines.

And finally, there is no better way to get quality links than from a traditional reciprocal link campaign. This can be a time consuming step without automated software, but is very important.

Here are 10 Steps to a Successful Reciprocal Linking Campaign:

1.) Write down the keywords you want to be found for.

2.) Draft a standard letter you can use to easily customize for each site (customization tips at the end.)

3.) Run a search on Google for each keyword and jot down the URL for each match returned (not just the homepage but the URL for the actual page you want the link from, which is the one that came up in the search.)

4.) Remove any direct competitors from the list.

5.) Go back through your list and find the contact info for each site. Record this information.

6.) Create a link to each page you want to get a link from. This should be from the most appropriate page on your site, not the homepage. Do not exceed 10 outbound links per page at most. The fewer, the better.

7.) Send the customized email with the considerations outlined below.

8.) Verify their backlinks.

9.) Remove any outbound links that do not reciprocate within a month or so.

10.) Check your inbound links every couple of weeks. Make sure you are still getting the links you earned and that the people linking to you have not moved you to a less desirable page.

Reciprocal Link Email Tips:

A.) Address the email to a person by name if possible.

B.) Start with a complimentary statement about what you like on their site.

C.) Introduce yourself and your site.

D.) Lead into why you feel your site is a good, non competing match (outline benefits for them and their visitors.)

E.) Mention that you have already linked to their site and hope they feel a reciprocal link will be beneficial. Provide the URL to the page you linked from.

F.) Explain why you linked from the page you did and the anchor text you used to show you understand link strategy.

G.) Request that if they link back they use one of your anchor text suggestions along with the exact URL you want them to link to.

H.) Offer to change the link anchor text of their URL if they wish.

I.) Thank them genuinely for their time and sign with your first name to make it more personal and natural.

You can do all of this manually or invest in a good piece of software to do the difficult and time consuming work for you. Many SEO professionals (myself included) use SEO Elite because it finds the best link partners, automatically gets their contact info and even manages entire campaigns. It's also a link verification system and search engine rank checker so it covers all of my SEO needs nicely ($167.)

So whether you do the work by hand or invest in a time saving "instant gratification" SEO tool, the information in this article can help you to the top of Google in record time. Good luck!

About The Author: Mike Small has been an SEO specialist since 1998 working with clients from start up to the Fortune 500. He has authored five SEO books and is the founder of popular SEO blog SEOpartner.com.

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