Whether you’ve spoken to an SEO company, or simply gained some search engine optimization knowledge on your own, you’ll know that buying links is a pretty big and controversial topic.
Some SEO consultants are very keen to let clients know that they would never engage in link buying. They state that such techniques are frowned upon by the search engines and could result in penalties being applied. In effect, it’s suggested that buying links could lead to your own site being buried in the search engine results.
Given that all of the main search engines use links as a key indicator when producing rankings, this would appear to create a real problem for some website owners. If paid links are to be avoided, then it’s presumed that all link building efforts should concentrate on free links. Does this really work? Where should they be sourced from?
It was once the time that directory entries were seen as being the key source of free links. Gradually, things have been changing. Submitting to directories has always been relatively time consuming and some companies offer services where they will carry out submissions on your behalf, for a small fee. Do such services represent a good investment? Unfortunately, the reality is that they will offer few benefits.
The problem is that such companies often rely on automated submissions that look unnatural to the search engines. Also, there are big question marks against the quality of some directories. As a result, links gained in this way may offer little value.
The biggest, manually edited directories are still highly valued by the search engines. A submission to DMOZ, for example, will still be of value. It’s also the case that some of the very best directories, including Yahoo, will charge in order to review your site. Some charges can be quite high, but Google and the other search engines don’t count these as paid links. You need to decide on whether they offer you value for money.
The impact of Google’s Panda update has been felt throughout the SEO community. The main change has been seen with websites that include a considerable amount of low quality, or duplicate content.
This means that article directories have often been hit by penalties. The value of links from these sites has been reduced as a result.
But it is still worth submitting to article distribution sites. You simply need to concentrate on contributing original, exclusive, high quality content.
When you think about using blogs to build links, you may mainly consider blog commenting. Unfortunately, such an approach is often of a rather low quality. That doesn’t mean that it won’t help your search engine rankings – it’s just something that probably shouldn’t be relied upon to provide a large, ongoing boost.
Providing guest blog articles, on the other hand, is a really good way to get high quality links that are rated by the search engines.
You might also consider occasional forum posts, as long as they are relevant to your site. Press releases also have benefits, although it’s worth pointing out these should be newsworthy. Many of the main press release distribution websites frown on releases that are little more than marketing adverts for your business.
It is possible to build a link profile without paying for links. It may take longer and some links certainly aren’t as useful as they once were. But, with careful planning, you can be successful with this approach.
Keith Barrett is a search engine optimization expert and provides SEO consulting services to businesses of all sizes.