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SEO One-Way Web Links: 5 Strategies
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SEO One-Way Web Links: 5 Strategies
By Joel Walsh (c) 2005
With so much talk about search engines putting a damper on
direct reciprocal links, the hunt for the elusive one-way
inbound link is on.
As someone who works with small business website owners, I've
heard just about every inbound-linking scheme there is. In the
end, I've only seen five strategies that really work
consistently for getting hundreds of links.
Less Effective One-Way Link Strategies
Yet there's perennial interest in alternative linking
strategies. They range from bad to OK, but none offer as much
potential as the five major ways of getting links.
* Link farms never seem to die. The latest variations try to
pass themselves off as viral marketing, but are really a sort
of endless pyramid scheme: you link to me, so I link to someone
else, who links to someone else, and on and on down the line.
Link farms can get you delisted from search engine indexes, so
don't even try them.
* Affiliates can provide you with one-way inbound links if you
use affiliate software that links directly to your site rather
than through a redirect. But many, many affiliates are now
placing all their affiliate links in redirects of their own
invention, to help protect their commissions from pirates who
will simply apply to the program themselves to get a discount.
* Posting to web forums and blogs regularly will get you
one-way inbound links, but they'll only have search-engine
value a small percentage of the time. Many blogs and bulletin
boards use search-engine-unfriendly dynamic file formats,
automatically encase links in script, or use robot instructions
to prevent spiders from following links.
* Many one-way inbound linking strategies fall into the
great-if-you-are-lucky-enough-to-get-it category, such as
winning a web award or being featured on a high-PageRank
website just for being so great.
* Other one-way incoming link strategies are in the
this-will-take-forever-to-get-anywhere category, such as
offering to provide testimonials to all your vendors in
exchange for a link to your site. (Hint: If you can get more
than twenty links that way, you probably need to simplify your
Now, on to the five major ways of getting large numbers of
one-way inbound links. Some are better than others, but they
all have more potential than some of the more madcapped
strategies. Of course, none is a good strategy all on its own.
You have to understand all five strategies in order to really
gain a distinct advantage in the one-way link hunt.
1. Waiting for Inbound Links
If you have good content you will eventually get one-way
inbound links naturally, without asking. Organic, freely given
links are an essential part of any SEO strategy. But you cannot
rely on them, for two reasons:
* Unfortunately, "eventually" can be a very long time.
* Worse, there is a vicious cycle: you can't get search engine
traffic, or other non-paid traffic, without inbound links; yet
without inbound links or search engine traffic, how is anyone
going to find you to give you inbound links?
2. Triangulating for Inbound Links
Search engines will have a tough time dampening reciprocal
links if the reciprocation is not direct. To get links to one
website you offer in exchange a link from another website you
also control. This would seem to be a mostly foolproof way of
defeating the link-dampening ambitions of Google and the rest.
If you have more than one website, you probably are already
employing this linking method. There are only a few drawbacks:
* You need to have more than one website in the same general
category of interest or the links won't be relevant.
* The work required to set up this kind of arrangement and
verify compliance is not insignificant. The process cannot be
automated to the same extent as direct one-to-one reciprocal
* As with traditional reciprocal links, a very big drawback is
that the links are mostly on "Resources" pages that are just
lists of links. There's only a small chance of getting
significant traffic from these links. Plus, any "Resource"
page may well eventually become an easy target for link
dampening, if that hasn't happened already.
3. Submitting to Directories
They are the legendary fairy lands of SEO: PageRank-passing,
no-fee-charging, and actually well-run directories of relevant
links. Yes, they really do exist. An SEO acquaintance tells me
he knows 200 good ones just off the top of his head. Plus,
there are other kinds of directories: directories of affiliate
programs, of websites using a certain content management
system, of websites whose owners are members of this or that
group, of websites accepting PayPal, etc. etc.
Ah, a link in a PageRank-passing link directory: it's a good
deal if you can get it. But let's say you do get links from all
200 such directories and a hundred more from the little niche
4. Paying for Inbound Links
Buying and selling text links on high-PageRank web pages has
become big business. Buying good traffic-generating "clean"
links is a great alternative to pay-per-click advertising,
which confers no SEO benefit. But, there are a number of
pitfalls of relying primarily on paid links for SEO:
* The cost of the hundreds of links required for substantial
search engine traffic can become prohibitive.
* As soon as you stop paying, you lose your link--you are
essentially renting rather than owning, with no "link equity"
* Google is actively trying to dampen the impact of paid links
on rankings, as revealed in various patent filings. A website
can try to mask the fact that the links are paid, but how well
it does that is out of your control.
* Given Google's mission to dampen paid links' effectiveness,
paid link buyers have an interest in verifying that a potential
paid link partner is "passing PageRank." But identifying
appropriate PageRank-passing paid link partners is quite a
task in itself.
* Google also has a stated mission of dampening the value of
any "artificial" links. Having most of your links on PageRank
3 or higher web pages would seem to be a dead give-away that
your links are "artificial," since the vast majority of web
pages (note: not necessarily websites, but their pages) are
PageRank 1 or lower. Meanwhile, buying PageRank 0 or 1 links
would have so little impact on a site's PageRank that it would
not be worth the expense.
5. Distributing Content
All of the above four inbound-link-generating methods really do
work. But it is the fifth method of getting one-way inbound
links that is the most promising: distributing content
The idea is simple: you give other websites content to put on
their sites in exchange for a link to your site, usually in an
"author's resource box," an "about the author" paragraph at the
end of the article.
The beauty of distributing content for links is that the links
generally generate more traffic than links on a "resources"
page. Plus, your article will pre-sell readers on the value of
The downside, of course, is that it's no small amount of work
to create original content and then distribute it to hundreds
of website owners. But nothing good ever came easy. And on the
internet, one-way inbound links are a very good thing.
Joel Walsh is the head content writer for UpMarket Content. Get
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