If you are looking for ways to improve your Alexa ranking and also your ranking in the search engines, then probably the best way is to build back links to your website.
The Google Panda update has lessened the value of back links to a degree, but it is still well worth the time and effort to learn how to build back links.
Social signals (or social bookmarking) is another excellent way to get the attention of Google, and is the other major strategy that you need to implement to make your website search engine friendly.
If you are going to build back links though, it is important to know which strategies work best – but are also ethical.
Black hat methods to build back links are simply not worth the effort, because Google is now extremely smart with its algorithm, and will penalise you for using dodgy tactics.
Common black hat methods include posting masses of spam comments on blogs, and also using cheap services that promise thousands of back links for less than $20.
These type of tactics don't work anymore anyway in most cases, so what is the point of using them?
I have compiled a list below of what I believe to be the top seven ethical ways to build back links:
1. Outsource a link building professional
This is the ideal option for the person that has plenty of money and does not want to spend time doing it themselves.
If you go with this option it is extremely important to be very careful with who you hire. You want a person that clearly knows what they are doing and is a professional.
Preferably someone that has testimonials from satisfied customers and results to back up their claims. I would not post an ad on a freelancing site because you will get hundreds of people applying for the job, and most of them will be cowboys so to speak.
Search for a company that specialises in link building, and has been around for a long time. Usually the companies that are on the first page of Google will be the most qualified, as that sort of industry is extremely competitive, and to get on the front page is proof that they are SEO professionals.
2. Create awesome content that people naturally want to link to because it is valuable.
This sounds obvious and a bit boring, but it is highly relevant. If you are continually providing great content that is helping people, then they will be inclined to link to you.
You won't need to ask for links or do anything as it will all happen naturally. If some of your blog posts go viral then people will want to link to you as well.
In the first few months of starting this blog, I have already seen many people that I don't know link to some of the articles.
If you can manage to get websites with high Page Rank's to link to you, this can make a massive difference to your search engine placings. Back links from sites that are either .gov or .edu also carry a lot of weight.
3. Submit articles on quality article directories such as EzineArticles, GoArticles, iSnare, etc
It is only worth submitting articles to sites that are quality sites with a good Page Rank. I have always thought that EzineArticles was the best article directory, and it has a Page Rank of 6.
I would rather submit one article to EzineArticles, than 20 articles to poor quality article directories, because Google basically pays no attention to these C Grade sites.
And I wouldn't recommend submitting exactly the same article to multiple directories either, as most of the high quality article directories do not accept duplicate content.
Spinning the article is a possible solution, but from personal experience I don't think this is worth the time and effort because unless you thoroughly check the end result, you are going to be submitting an article that is poorly written and does not make sense.
4. Submit a press release that allows clickable back links.
Press releases used to be an excellent way to get free high quality back links, but almost all of them require you to pay for them now.
It can be worth the money though, as Google loves fresh press releases and will more than likely allow you to rank for keywords if you use them as the anchor text. A properly written press release can possibly get you up to number one on Google within 24 hours in some cases.
Keep in mind though, that a press release has to be something to do with news, and not be an article. If you submit an article they will reject it, as the whole idea of a press release is to announce something.
It does not have to be something important, and can be as trivial as saying that you are flying somewhere to do something.
5. Submit your site to DMOZ.org and other highly regarded directories
If you have not submitted your website to http://DMOZ.org then I suggest you do it right now.
The reason that it is so highly regarded is that it checked by real humans, and they only accept the site if they think it is a worthy addition to the directory. They will not accept your site if they think it is junk. Google trusts them a lot, and will pay more attention to your site if DMOZ give it the thumbs up.
Another good directory is the Yahoo! Directory, but they charge you a fee to be listed on their site.
6. Answer questions on sites such as Yahoo Answers and other Forums
Most forum sites and Answer sites allow you to place a link or two inside a signature section when you make a new post.
Not only will some people click on these links, but it also allows you to create hundreds and thousands of back links. Forum marketing is a very underrated marketing tactic.
If you are posting on these sort of sites though, make sure you are genuinely contributing to the conversation and adding value. If you get caught spamming or posting short meaningless messages such as "great post" or "I agree", then you will most likely be banned.
7. Comment on other blogs in your niche that allow DoFollow
Commenting on blogs is a similar concept to the forum idea above. The main difference is that most blogs have the nofollow system set up by default, which means that if you do leave a comment then you won't get any link juice out of it.
The trick is to look for blogs that are set up for dofollow, which will provide you with a valid back link. You could do a Google search for "how to find dofollow blogs" or you could try the dofollow search engine at http://www.inlineseo.com/dofollowdiver/
This is also a great way to meet other people in your industry and network with like minded individuals. Sometimes you can get more value out of reading the comments on a blog post, than the actual post itself.
Obviously you only want to be searching for blogs in your niche or industry, and you only want to be posting comments that contribute to the conversation.
All of these methods above will provide you with a way to build back links, and improve your search engine ranking without having to resort to dodgy black hat methods.
You always have the option to outsource if you prefer, as I admit that most of these methods can be a bit mundane and boring. Or you could gradually build it up by doing a little bit on a regular basis.
Keep in mind that the anchor text that you use for your links is also extremely important, especially if you use keyword phrases that you are targeting.
Remember to aim to build back links only from quality authority sites, as these links will provide far more value than from an average site with a Page Rank of zero.
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