Link building Insights: how to both build traffic-productive and SEO-effective links.

Link building has become quite a challenge these days – the recent groundbreaking Google’s Penguin update dramatically changed the whole SEO landscape. The update altered the algorithmic segmentation of good vs. bad links – thus, lots of link building activities that used to work, have been labeled as spammy. All this has drastically changed the way webmasters should approach link building. In a word, nowadays building links has become a more complex and tricky process.

However, there are some link building methods that can work well, improve your site visibility and bring lots of targeted traffic. Read on to learn how to build links in the context of the latest Google update.

Guest Blogging is not a Matter of the Past

Guest blogging used to be one of the most popular link acquisition methods. It worked so well that authoritative bloggers and website owners got bombarded with dozens of emails asking them to accept guest posts. Perhaps that was the reason why Google changed its policy towards guest blogging. Now, the search engine doesn’t favor spammy guest posts and can even penalize a website if such are detected.

However, as Matt Cutts said, high-quality guest blogging is still worth doing. If you are an established blogger and an expert in some particular field, you can write high quality posts that will help you increase the popularity of your brand and perhaps get some valuable links.

On top of that, Google Authorship is becoming more commonly used by writers. Its main advantage is that it lets Google evaluate how popular your content and how it is spread on the Web.

Bottom-line: if you continually write great stuff, Google will eventually add more value to your content (and links you place in your posts).

Long Live Press Releases

In one of the interviews, Matt Cutts made a passing mention that links from press releases wouldn’t bring any benefit to website rankings. However, as this independent research shows Google counts press release links (including Matt Cutts own).

The truth lies somewhere in between. Despite all rumors, press releases do have an impact on website ranking visibility. Writing an informative, high-quality press release and distributing it via a reputable PR services can work well for your brand publicity.

Just note that the main goal of a press release is to get the word out to the press about your product update/new service you offer/new feature of your app, etc.. When the press likes what you offer, they may post about it on their websites. Thus, you will get more links from other sites, and as a result, will get more targeted traffic and valuable backlinks.

Bottom-line: professional, well-written press releases can be a great contribution to improving your brand awareness and site SERP authority.

Social Signals – Do They Affect SEO?

The world is becoming a more social place – and that’s the reason why all companies are trying to promote their brands with the help of social media.

However, the question of whether Google prefers social signals or traditional links is something of a moot point. According to Matt Cutts, Google is currently facing difficulties with crawling Facebook and Twitter, so it can’t determine the real quality of social signals.

Nevertheless, the Branded 3 study showed, the number Facebook likes, tweets, retweets, Linked In shares, social bookmarks etc. does affect site rankings and its search engine visibility.

The main point is that Google looks for quality above all else and in all of their ranking factors – social signals is not an exception. Google values social signals from high-quality networks and gives a greater weight to the signals that are a more accurate indication of quality. So don’t choose an easy ride and fall for running a volume campaign. Consider the quality of your social media activities as the top priority.

Bottom-line: when running an SEO campaign, focus on attracting real people and your industry influencers. Thus, you can hit two birds with one stone: drive direct web traffic and boost your rankings via social media sources.

Blog/Forum Comments Do Work for SEO

Some SEO articles on the Web still mention dropping links in blog/forum comments among popular link building tips. However, spamming niche forums and other people’s blogs for cheap, parasitical links has already become a thing of the past. Now, building links this way is considered as an intrusive, abusive, and completely despicable SEO practice. On top of that, almost all links that are left in this way are automatically made Nofollow.

On the other hand, forums and blogs certainly do invite commenters to leave links, but you should post comments the right way. The best way to do that is to leave comments that really make sense, provoke new discussions and address the points of the conversation in a thoughtful, considerate manner. This way, you can grab the attention of other commentators and they may get interested in the links you use in your signature or your comments.

Bottom-line: commenting on forums and blogs is like conversing with people in real life: if you fully engage in conversations and speak to the point, you’re likely to build a relationship that will extend beyond the sources you leave your comments on.

Submitting to Web Directories Can Still be Effective
Submission to online directories still works for SEO. Contrary to the widespread rant that this way of link building is, actually it is not. As James Norquay said, good directories can still help enhance your website backlink profile and raise your site authority.

The main point you should consider before submitting a website to Web directories is quality. One of the best signs of quality is that a Web directory has high rankings in SERP. If it is, especially on Google, take it as a good sign.

It’s usually worth the money to buy a link from some paid authoritative directories (e.g. Yahoo! Directory). Also, submitting to local and/or niche directories that get real human visitors (for example, USA City Link, etc.) can work well and improve your site positions in local SERPs.

But avoid submitting to too many directories too fast – pace it out over several months. Also, avoid free spammy directories.

Bottom-line: submitting your site to authoritative Web directories still works and can raise site’s importance in search engines eyes.

Conclusion:

Whatever ways of attracting natural links you choose, remember – you build links not for the sake of building links. Your backlinks can not only improve your site ranking performance but also bring lots of targeted traffic. Plan your link building strategies with the consideration of the above mentioned tips and you will get the most out of your links.

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