As we all know, backlinks are the blood of SEO (search engine optimization.) We try to present awesome content for our readers or viewers, and hope to the ghod of the Internet that some of them will like what we have done and give us a link on their blog or website.links

That’s what Google wants to see. They expect us to create engaging, useful content and for our links to be coming naturally. They really hate it when they suspect that someone is trying to game the system.

But we’re business people. We can’t necessarily wait around to get those natural backlinks, and so we try to help ourselves along by doing things that encourage backlinks. Sometimes, people call it “link baiting,” and that’s quite all right with Google. Link baiting involves that natural linking, but it means our content is shocking, entertaining, or just so unbeliveable that people HAVE to link to it on their sites and/or on social media.

However, there are other methods of garnering links. Some practices are just going to get you hung, and are ways you want to avoid. Here are some of them:

Paid linking: This is the great sin. It was OK until 4 or 5 years ago, and then, Google brought the hammer down and said, “NOPE! Stop now or you’ll be sorry.” Many sites were. They lost page rank and SERPs (search engine results pages) listings and couldn’t get them back until they stopped buying or selling links. Don’t even think about getting backlinks this way. Now, it could even get you de-indexed.

Too Many, Too Soon: When Google sees 10 links one day and 50 or 100 the next, it could cause a problem. It’s not natural that links would be built up that quickly, unless you have something that has gone viral. You know, that special video that we’re all looking to create or some news or new technique that is just so bomb that people can’t resist linking to it? Doesn’t happen that often, so build your links, slowly over time.

Site-wide linking: So, a blogger of renown offers to put your link into his sidebar. Should you allow that to happen? Well, it depends… Will it make you more money? If the answer is, “No,” ask for a single link back instead. Sitewide links, or links on every page of another website are not helpful.  It’s OK to have this happen on one site or so, but if the majority of your links are sitewide, Google will be giving you the stink eye.

Cookie-Cutter Anchor Text: Anchor text is nothing more than a keyword phrase that has been hyperlinked. Sometimes, it will be your URL. Other times, the name of your business or even just works like “click here” or “More.” If all of your anchor text is the same, it’s another yellow flag for search engines. People do not naturally all link to you in the same way, and so your anchor text should vary.

Just High Link Authority: If all of your links are coming from high-authority sites, that’s another yellow flag, and it probably means you’re paying for them. The authority of your links should be pages that rank from 0 to as high as you can get, and the distribution should appear to be natural.

Follow vs. No Follow: I’m working on creating a bunch of no-follow links for one of my clients to balance the site’s “do follow” links out. Too many in one direction or the other will make spiders raise one eyebrow.

One way to build links that is still OK with everyone is by making cogent, interesting comments on other blogs or websites. Most of the blogs you find in your niche are probably no follow. (meaning that spiders don’t follow the link to your website and supposedly give you no link juice, which I tend to dis-believe.) Yet, there are some blog owners who are still willing to share the love. Unless you have an unnatural distribution of “do follow” links, find blogs like that, and become part of the blog’s community.

And getting cool backlinks on high authority sites is awesome, too. You can write for other blogs in your niche or for sites that are well-renowned, like Technorati, for example. They’re always looking for content, but you need to be a good writer for them to approve you, too.

Yet, I get requests from guest posters every week. Some I’ll take, while others I won’t. It just depends on whether their material fits my blog’s “voice” and style. And when it does, I’m happy. It keeps content coming for my readers and I don’t have to provide any of the work. And if I take articles, lots of other blog owners will, too. Just be sure that the blogs you’re posting to are worth it. If you add content to a site that’s not so hot, your link will be worthless anyway. Why bother?

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