When I first started playing around with SEO, the thing that would drive me absolutely stir crazy was trying to learn how build links. It was this mystical, foreign art to me.
I’d come across “experts” who would talk about link building:
“Build good links.”
“Link building takes time.”
“A good link building strategy involves research…”
“The time it will take a quality link will be better spent than building ten spam links.”
“When I link build I look to find similar sites…”
It was that kind of beat-around-the-bush, circular writing that about had me throw my computer out the window. I didn’t even care that I was on the third floor and the windows didn’t open.
So I just went testing.
Here’s what I started discovering:
1) Matt Cutts is always right in the long run: Okay, not only because he’s the head of the Google Webspam team and has much say in SEO for Google, but the techniques he suggests really end up being the most efficient. The two I point out specifically are as follows:
- Write engaging content users will want to revisit
- Search engines love fresh content
I took the answers to heart. Not working on a site that provides fresh content can sometimes be a dealbreaker for me. Sometimes.
(By the way, Cutts & Co., kudos on the SSL encrypted search!)
2) After playing around with link directories – which I try to avoid – and forums – which can be painful – I realized the best way to build links is to build friendships.
Using link-building tools and leaving canned comments on blog sites get you deleted and black-marked as spammed.
Having a manicured Twitter account, a Facebook Fan Page, a picture uploaded on Gravatar, and and email off of the TLD and now you have a web presence that will allow you to engage other sites.
Now this is the hard part: Take time to read the blog posts and forum threads and provide engaging feedback. Go so far as subscribe to the thread and posts. Then perform followup replies. Learn about the writers and the posts. At worst, be Machiavellian and fake it.
Make the comments as engaging as a post you would want people to read. And then, who knows? Maybe you make a friend and they write about you. Or blogroll you!
3) follow, nofollow, no matter. Different searchers ‘officially’ treat the nofollow tag differently. It doesn’t mean the spiders still won’t think about it. You’ll drive yourself nuts trying to discern the difference.
Also, if you pick a site or forum where the post is trafficed, you can have other readers from that post follow your the link back to your site. And now your site’s getting traffic value from that link.
I confess, I still think Googlebot will follow nofollow links they deem important or think have the nofollow applied just for page rank sculpting. I know my belief contradicts point #1. To me it’s the exception that proves the rule. Either way, this brings me to point 4:
4) Test, test, and re-test.
What approaches do you take?
(photo credit: dL76 via Flickr)