Get One-way Inbound Links: The 5 Major Strategies
Do you know all the major strategies for getting valuable one-way inbound links?
With 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. Yet there's perennial interest in alternative linking strategies. Why? Perhaps because the five major effective strategies involve a certain amount of hard work, and for many people, SEO is an endless magic bean hunt.
Let's look at some of the supposedly easier alternatives:
* 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, I link to someone else, who links to someone else, and on and on down the line. If you think this will work, let's just say I admire your ability to maintain a childlike innocence despite all the mean names I'm sure everyone calls you.
* 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 supply line.)
* Other linking methods are slightly less practical, like engendering the hatred of billions of people so they'll all link to you with "miserable failure" in the link anchor text so that--ha! ha!--you'll show up in searches for "miserable failure"--and probably other keywords as well since you'll have such great link popularity at that point (ha! ha!).
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:
a. Unfortunately, "eventually" can be a very long time.
b. 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. Stop laughing! There really are businesses that only have one website! In fact, they may be your clients someday.
* 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 linking.
* 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 for Incoming Links
They are the legendary fairy lands of SEO: PageRank-passing, no-fee-charging, non-corrupt and actually well-run directories of relevant links. Yes, they really do exist. An SEO friend 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 directories--now what?
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:
a. The cost of the hundreds of links required for substantial search engine traffic can become prohibitive.
b. As soon as you stop paying, you lose your link--you are essentially renting rather than owning, with no "link equity" building up.
c. Google is actively trying to dampen the impact of paid links on rankings, as revealed in various patent filings.
d. 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.
e. Google is actively trying to dampen the impact of any "artificial" linking campaign. 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.
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 for One-Way Inbound Links
A time-honored way of getting one-way inbound links is to distribute content, usually articles, for other websites to publish in exchange for a backlink. Usually, the backlink is included in an "author's resource box," which is a brief "about the author" paragraph promoting the author's site. If done right, content distribution is almost always the most cost-effective way to get one-way inbound links.
Myths about distributing content for inbound links
Given the enormous value of distributing content for inbound links, the big question is: why isn't everybody doing it? Part of the problem is the ignorance about properly conducting a content distribution linking campaign. Here are some common myths:
Myth: The "Duplicate content penalty."
Some webmasters worry that if the content on their sites is suddenly on hundreds of other sites, search engines will inflict a "duplicate content penalty." Why is this ridiculous?
* If this were true, every major newspaper and news portal website would now be de-indexed from the search engines, since they all carry "duplicate content" from the news wires such as Reuters and the Associated Press.
* Thousands of self-promoting internet gurus have proven that distributing content is an effective method of improving search engine rank.
* Even more thousands of content websites have proven that republishing this content does not carry any search engine penalty.
* True, the first website to publish an article often seems to be favored by search engines, ranking higher for the same content in searches than higher-PageRank pages with the same content. But the "duplicate" pages do show up in the search engine results, even if lower than the original site. Meanwhile, the reprint content has no effect on the ranking of a site's other pages.
* The only duplicate content penalty is for duplication of content across pages of a single website. Meanwhile, there is a sort of "copyright theft" penalty, whereby someone who copies content without permission can be manually removed from search engine indexes out of respect for the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. But that penalty is only for flagrant theft, not minor mistakes in attributing reprint content.
Myth: Distribution is for article clearinghouse websites only.
There are over 100 popular, high-traffic websites that act as clearinghouses for content made available for redistribution. These websites include isnare.com, amazines.com, and goarticles.com.
Submitting content to these sites is useful since good content will subsequently be picked up by other sites from them, generating valuable backlinks.
So, what's the problem with content clearinghouse websites? Many novice content-distributors believe that these are the only websites to which content should be submitted.
These novices then are upset when the article clearinghouse websites, with tens of thousands of articles each with a backlink, pass negligible PageRank.
But to maximize PageRank-passing links, you have to submit articles to webmasters individually.
Myth: Any content will do.
* Fact: it should be obvious that many website owners, jealous of their link popularity, will only republish exceptionally high-quality content. For articles, this means a unique point of view and solid information that cannot be found just anywhere, ideally presented in compelling language in a web-optimized format by a professional published writer. You can conduct a content distribution campaign with bad content, but you'll be handicapping yourself from the start.
* Fact: A content distribution campaign requires skillful planning. The most likely relevant categories of websites to republish articles must be identified. Relevance of republishing websites has to be balanced against the number of potential republishing websites both when creating content to distribute and when targeting sites for distribution. For instance, our own article marketing campaigns target not just sites focusing on web content, but also broad categories of interest, such as: web design, webmaster issues, writing, marketing, business, website promotion, and SEO. To maximize success, articles have to be custom-written for each category, and refined for sub-categories such as accessible web design, affiliate webmaster issues, freelance writing, and web marketing.
* Fact: You need at least three different articles of varying lengths and focus to have a shot at targeting high-PageRank-websites effectively. Many experienced article marketers recommend having 25 or more articles on hand to maximize results.
Distinct non-SEO benefits of distributing content for inbound links
Content distribution in exchange for backlinks predates SEO. In fact, for many content distributors, these non-SEO benefits are the primary goals:
* Traffic generation. More than any other method of getting links, the links in distributed content generate traffic. Distributing content gets you traffic even when it doesn't get you a link. If your article gets picked up by a large-circulation email newsletter, you will get a flood of highly qualified traffic.
* Authority. Distributing content is the only linking campaign method that can make the recipient website and its owners appear authoritative. There are thousands of internet gurus who owe their lucrative reputations entirely to the articles they've distributed.
* Mindshare. Distributing articles is the only linking campaign method that can help you spread an idea. This makes article distribution invaluable for launching new products or services.
Drawbacks of Content Distribution
Of course, nothing good ever came easy. Any website owners who are looking for SEO magic beans will be disappointed by content distribution:
* Results are variable. Content distribution is not quite as sure a thing as buying links. You cannot say for sure at the outset how much of an investment it will require to get X number of links with X PageRank. Of course, this variability is one reason why links from content distribution may appear less "artificial" to search engines.
* Requires significant investment. You need high-quality content, expertise in content distribution, and quite a few work-hours to distribute the content and track the results. These costs can be mitigated by outsourcing the entire process from soup to nuts to a content distribution specialist. Further, the cost has to be weighed against the cost of other link campaigns, which is also significant.
* Requires special expertise. There are numerous newbie pitfalls to distributing content, from improperly formatting articles to writing a bad introductory email to accompany content submissions. You generally have to have done numerous campaigns to truly get the feel for it. Again, this drawback can be mitigated by outsourcing your project to a specialist. And again, this requirement has to be weighed against the real-world requirement of special expertise in other link campaign methods.
In conclusion, there are a number of ways of getting one-way inbound links, and if you're smart, you'll use all of them. Still, there's only one method that carries substantial non-SEO benefits as well, and that's content distribution. I know, I know: focusing on content just feels like you're giving in to Google. But don't fight it. When it comes to getting high search engine rankings through content, you know you want it.
About the Author: Joel Walsh is the owner of UpMarket Content, where you can get a content distribution campaign guaranteed to get you at least one hundred one-way inbound links for every three articles: http://upmarketcontent.com/website-promotion-package.htm [requested anchor text for html link: Check out this guaranteed website promotion content distribution]