Link Building: To Link, or Not to Link, That is the Question

Link Building: To Link, or Not to Link, That is the Question

Lately, there have been a lot of heated discussions regarding link building. Is it ethical to create a link building campaign? Does Google or any other search engine penalize for "link farms" (a bunch of non-related links created for the SOLE purpose of increasing search engine ratings)? Is the "link building era" over?



Link Farms





Many webmasters claim that Google penalizes websites for link farms. If this is so, why are a link farm sites that have a page rank of 5 on their link farm page? Let me give you an example, go to Google.com, type in any popular keyword(s) and append the word "links" to it. For example, "ABCD Links." Notice you'll get tones of websites that are linking to unrelated sites, but still have a great PR. I do not encourage link farming in any way or form, but building valuable partnerships is something I do encourage.

If you're a jewelry site and you're exchanging links with an antiques site, I think this is a great thing. It's very possible that someone searching for jewelry may have an interest in antiques. I own a few sites and the hits I receive from partially related sites are phenomenal. Most of my websites are targeted towards webmasters so I receive hits from all sorts of sites. Remember, many webmasters claim to know the truth regarding search engine algorithms, but no one knows the EXACT TRUTH except the programmers at the search engines. Webmasters may have been penalized in the past for link farms and doorway pages (pages created around certain keywords for the sole purpose of redirecting surfers to the main page), but who's to say why some HAVEN'T been penalized.



Who Should I Create Link Partnerships With?



1. Create link partnerships with sites related to your site.



2. Create link partnerships with sites that have an audience that may be interested in your products



3. Exchange homepage links with websites that fit in your genre. You'll receive a link on a page with a good ranking and you'll get quality, targeted hits.



How Do You Find Link Partners?



1. Signup with an automated links management provider that organizes your links and helps find link partners. Automated tools are the best because they help you save time. Uploading and downloading your pages for every link exchange can be a huge pain and very time consuming. Automated tools are NOT link farms because they give you complete control of who you exchange links with. If a member exchanges links with every website, he/she might be abusing the tool. If a member uses the tool responsibly, it can be very effective.



2. This is a great little exercise I would recommend to anyone.



a. Write down 20 search terms pertaining to your website



b. Go to http://www.google.com and type in a search term written in step A



c. Contact as many websites as possible listed under that search term and ask them to exchange inner page or homepage links with you. If they're NOT interested, ask whether they would be interested in selling advertising space. If your website is fairly new, you may want to ask sites for advertising prices. Free hits are the best hits but sometimes you might have to go the extra lap and pay for service. I wouldn't recommend spending over $100 / month for advertising UNLESS it's a high traffic site with your site audience. The best deals are the ones that offer $10-25 / month. There are sites out there that will sell SUPER cheap advertising, and others that charge an arm and a leg.



EVERYONE gets rejected sometime or another so keep your head up and keep moving along! The internet is comprised of Billions of websites. If you're rejected 500 times, you still have MANY business opportunities left! This is a continuous job so set aside time every week to do this. If you don't have time for this, then you don't have time to make money.


3. Hire a link building firm (this can be quite expensive but if you have money, its minimal work for you)


PageRank


Pagerank is a great tool but don't use it as your ONLY measurement for success. I can't explain everything about pagerank but a good explanation is given at http://www.google-watch.org/pagerank.html.


Conclusion


In conclusion, link building is not only for increasing link partners and search engine rankings, it's also used to create partnerships and establish profitable relationships with other webmasters. Link building is a tedious process, but one of the best for getting free (sometimes not), targeted hits from other websites.
Yes, it’s that simple. If you can answer the question ‘Why should I link to your website?‘ without hesitation, you’re good to go. However, answers like “because our websites are relevant” or “because it’s relevant for your users” are not good answers. Most links on the web are placed out of emotion, and relevance does not trigger any emotion.

Think of all the link requests you have received yourself, and about which ones you have actually accepted, and why. Think of all the websites you have linked to yourself over time, and why you have linked to these sites.

There are many good answers possible to this question, but the most common ones are:

because I love your website/ images/ article/ etc.
because I like you
because you have offered something in return
because I think I will be missing out on something if I don’t share your website with others

Ask yourself this question before any link request you send out. Before you start creating another link bait concept. Before any brainstorm session you run.

If you can’t answer this question properly, there are basically three things you can do:

proceed nevertheless, and deal with demoralizingly low acceptance rates
offer something in return (content, money, services, etc.) to persuade people
improve your content (or your pitch) in such a way that it does answer the question

Now if more people would ask themselves this question, it would make my inbox a whole lot cleaner…
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