Link Building 101


RIP Gary
Dec 19, 2008
I have waaay too much information regarding link bulding....from the right kind of SBM (social bookmarking) to blog posts and the software that is good and bad for this let me start with this and field questions regarding it and then I'll share a few tools in a thread I haven't yet started 'SEO Tools' next week that will streamline the process, as well as a few good places selling cheap links that are properly formatted.

So here we go;

It's not the 'end-all' but it is a good reference for new to mid level up-and-coming SEO's to dive into and possibly get a few new ideas.

I wrote it a couple months ago to semi-train a couple team members that I brought on for link building.

Link Building 101
Link building is the single most important element to obtaining high rankings in all of the major search engines. It is vital that continual efforts be made and long-term plans be laid out to insure a web sites continued success in organic search results, and reduced costs in paid placement (PPC).

Google created the most successful information retrieval device of all time based on sending spiders to follow each and every link they can find on each and every web document they come across. Yahoo, MSN, Ask, and all the other search databases have acquired the vast amounts of information they contain in similar fashion. Links play important roles in the ranking formulas of all search engines, especially Google, by providing numerous pieces of data for their algorithms to chew through.

The best links a web site can have are natural, one-way inbound links. These are links that are posted by other web sites, forums or blogs. These show a natural interest in something the linked web site offers such as valuable information, news, a tool or some other resource.

The more one-way links a web site has, the more reliable the search engine algorithms consider it to be. Google has gone as far as to rank a web site in terms of PR, or page rank. This is a sliding scale of 0-10. The more important Google considers a web site, the higher the PR that it awards it. (PR also includes visitors as well).

Place your pointer over this in the toolbar and it will show PageRank.

You can check the number of back links to a web site in many different ways. The Firefox browser has an installable extension that allows users to right-click and scan down to back links to see the number of back links a site has. There are several toolbars that you can install (Google, Yahoo, etc.) that allow you to see this, and there are various web sites that offer tools to do this.

(Google is unique in its approach to back links as it will only show a percentage of the actual back links, whilst Yahoo and MSN show all. Google also will delay showing back links in order to attempt to weed out purchased back links or schemes to affectively fool the algorithms into awarding a higher PR, and thus a higher position in the SERPs Search Engine Ranking Positions.)

These will check the number of back links that a page has:
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This will check the number of back links that the top 10 sites have based on your selected keyword (this will help you find relevant sites);
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Types of Link Strategies
Natural Link Building Adding quality content or something that benefits the end user that they would want to link to
Affiliate Linking Some companies such as airlines, debt management companies, or other businesses that have vendors that supply a service or product to them, can be contacted and asked to provide a link to the site you are promoting. These are usually especially strong, and easily obtained one-way backlinks because normally they dont have a bunch of other links diminishing the value of your backlink.
One-Way Linking (Purchase) Buying one-way inbound links to your web site
Reciprocal Linking Exchanging links with another web site
Three-Way Linking Site A links to Site B, Site B links to Site C, and Site C links to site A (
Link Farms Companies like (but not directories, FFAs, or obvious abusers of linking)
Forums and Blogs Links from forums an blogs
News Articles (PR Web) Typically created by web site owners to promote their site. These are effective after 2-4 weeks when Google has crawled them and indexed them within their search results. Never put more than 1 link to any one page per article.

One of the tools mentioned above, is a good tool, that has spawned many other linking tools that do similar things.

Heres how it works; You search through their categories for relevant categories. Once you drill it down to the category and click on it, a list of other members will come up as well as their Google PR. You add their link to your website and send them a request. This request will also provide a link for them to insert into their web site. The downfall is that you need to check that the link remains there, or even that its placed in the first place. This is where the work begins.

You need to track all of the links to verify they arent taken down. There are tools (Web CEO for one), that will do this for you, but you will still need to record the link page URL so that you can enter it into the tool so it can do the check.

There are many ways to gain back links from a web site. You can offer valuable information on something that an end-user finds useful, such as a map to, or of a destination, a tool such as a mortgage calculator, or even a coupon or shopping tips. This is the way the search engines want you back links to occuras this is the Natural Link Building process; An end-user finds something on a web site that they feel is useful and they create a link to it.
Another method is purchasing One-Way Links. You must be very careful when attempting this strategy as many things can go awry, and the search engines (especially Google), are looking very hard at how to avoid awarding web sites higher SERPs based on link building efforts attempting to obtain a more favorable position in their search engine.

Whilst Google Page Rank doesnt directly affect your SERPs, the back links from trusted sources do. The way this works is that Google looks at the PR of the referring web site and passes on PR. The influence of this bleeding affect is determined by:
The PR of the referring site
The number of outbound links on the page containing your back link
The trust rating of the referring web site, according to Google, which is based on the registration date and consistent content, as well as the web sites own back links and these same parameters

This, put in basic terms, means that spending the time that it takes to obtain a back link from a site that has no PR is meaningless.
Here is an example of Googles weightedness (a made up word by Gary);
Site 1 with a PR5 has 50 links (the max you want on 1 page) = bleeds .0012 PR
Site 2 with a PR5 has 10 links = bleeds .430 PR
Site 3 with a PR5 has 2 links = bleeds .776 PR
Additionally, Google seemingly awards back links from .orgs slightly higher, and back links from .edus and govs significantly higher. This opens many vertical possibilities when taken into consideration whilst planning your long-term back link strategy. Ask me about these if youre willing to do a lot of hard work.
The following is the same example above, but is based off a back link from a .edu and a .gov
.gov/.edu Site 1 with a PR5 has 50 links (the max you want on 1 page) = bleeds .4352 PR
.gov/.edu Site 2 with a PR5 has 10 links = bleeds .88721 PR
.gov/.edu Site 3 with a PR5 has 2 links = bleeds 1.176 PR
So this means that it is important to get back links from high PR sites, as well as sites that have related content.

The Link
Just as important as the back links, the actual content of the back link is as important.
Because of the overwhelming problem the SEs are experiencing with Spammers and Black-Hatters overtaking their results and therefore skewing the quality of the overall purpose of their primary intended function, which is search and providing relevant results, each of the main three search engines have introduced, or are soon to introduce an entirely new algorithm that, in purpose, is meant to eliminate the bad, and provide genuine, relevant results, which is what the end-user is looking for.
So Google tweaked their algorithm to place an increased weight on not only back links, but the actual content of the back link.
What this means is that if I were optimising a web site and one of its keyword phrases were debt consolidation, I would create a back link that used debt consolidation (actually I would use Get Debt Consolidation because you need a buffer word before your keywords in ANY circumstance when doing optimization to avoid obvious SEO red flags), and the link description would also include that phrase. So, a good example of this is here:

Expert Debt Consolidation Get Cheap Debt Consolidation Now.

This is a basic example. Every web site and back link offer/tool will have different parameters stating how many characters you can use, the length, content, number of caps, number of expletives like best, cheapest, or lowest type. The point I am making here is that you need to take full advantage of the link. You do this with carefully selected anchor text and descriptions. These links need to be carefully created and linked back to SE optimized landing pages that mirror your anchor text and description. These elements are EXACTLY what ALL search engines, especially Google, use to weight or grade the link.

This, coupled with quality content and the correct keyword density and other SEO elements, are core in the future of obtaining high rankings with all SEs organically, and PPC at a cost well under what the competition is paying.

Link Tools
Alexa, WebCEO, Arelis and many other tools are available that work in an efficient way, and can be very effective if utilized in the correct fashion. These tools will take your selected keyword and based on the parameters that you set up, crawl the search engines and the top ranking web sites that come up for that particular query. They then pull any available emails from the site, if available, or if there isnt one available, it will default to whatever you select (i.e. [email protected] or [email protected]).
So lets say you are searching for back links from sites that are related to womens under garments for Bravissimo. I would enter womens clothing into the search box and these tools come back with the number of sites that you request. The tools give you the amount of back links a site already has, the PR strength, a relevancy grade and so on.
These tools have other optional settings to help in your link building schemes.
Find web sites with link suggestion forms that can be setup to be completed automatically and submitted;(Not recommended)
Find web sites that link to your competitors
Find web sites that already link to you (to possibly change the anchor text or add additional deep links)
Find web sites by doing a keyword search
Investigate the many tools available to find the one that suits your needs the best. Stay away from the cookie cutter approach if possible as link building has been going on for years and most web site owners have received thousands of canned requests over the years.

Things to Avoid
Stay away from link farms (
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The site has no possible connection to your subject matter whatsoever. The page they put your link on isn't linked to FROM any page, meaning it's floating out there in never-never land and is a ploy to get you to link to their site.
The page where they put your link is on a URL a mile long and several directories deep so engines will never find it.
The page looks like a farmer's field with nicely arranged rows of links to hundreds of sites which aren't necessarily organized in any logical manner, but that doesn't matter because someone told them the link is all that counts.
It's a link and a link only. No description. No proof the person ever actually reviewed the site.
Signs they'll accept anything that shows evidence of being a "live" link. A true Directory has criteria, frets about the quality of sites it links to and doesn't have people out begging for links. Instead the reverse is true, with people begging to be let in.
Watch for scams such as sub-domain one-way traffic feeders where the page your site is linked to isn't part of the main website. Study the URLS carefully before you decide to accept a link request.
Stay away from FFA sites (Free For All)
Avoid being on a web site that has pages and pages of links. This is viewed as a Link Farm.
Stay away from sex oriented, gambling, RX and other unsavoury sites.
Be aware of the possibility of bad neighbours. If you are on a shared server, do a blacklist check to be sure youre not on a proxy server with a spammer or banned site.
Dont waste your time getting a link from a non-ranking page within a site. The page needs to hold a rank of a minimum PR value of 1 below your landing page, particularly if there are going to be other outbound links to other web sites. If there are not going to be other outbound links, or just a few, then a PR of 2 and above will still boost your ranking and benefit your SERPs as well as your own PR.
Stay away from link pages called Link Partners, Links or the like, especially if the term link or links is part of the URL
Stay away from pages that have more than 50 outbound links
If you are looking to build long-term rankings, it takes more work and creativity than just sending out automated emails or joining a linking program. Create a daily hit list outlining exactly what you will do.

Dont be afraid to pick up the phone. This is the best way to get and keep a link. You can usually find this information at Network Solutions or the web sites About Us page.

Lastly, keep at it! Link building is a marathon, not a sprint. Youve been given what is probably the most important job that influences search engine results. The work you do today, will put a web site a the top of the rankings tomorrow, and keep them there.

50 More Ways To Get Links
1. Build a 101 list. These get Dugg all the time, and often become authority documents. People cant resist linking to these (hint, hint). Like mine at
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. I did a PPC 101 and PPC 102 lists.
2. Create 10 easy tips to help you [insert topic here] articles. Again, these are exceptionally easy to link to.
3. Create extensive resource lists for a specific topic
4. Create a list of the top 10 myths for a specific category.
5. Create a list of gurus/experts. If you impress the people listed well enough, or find a way to make your project look somewhat official, the gurus may end up linking to your site or saying thanks. (Sometimes flattery is the easiest way to strike up a good relationship with an authority.)
6. Make your content easy to understand so many people can understand and spread your message. (Its an accessibility thing.)
7. Put some effort in to minimize grammatical or spelling errors, especially if you need authoritative people like librarians to link to your site. (Of course based on my posts u know I rarely practice this)
8. Have an easily accessible privacy policy and about section so your site seems more trustworthy. Including a picture of yourself may also help build your authority.
9. Buy relevant traffic with a pay per click campaign. Relevant traffic will get your site more visitors and brand exposure. When people come to your site, regardless of the channel in which they found it, there is a possibility that they will link to you.
News & Syndication
10. Syndicate an article at EzineArticles, GoArticles, iSnare, etc. The great thing about good article sites is that their article pages actually rank highly and send highly qualified traffic.
11. Submit an article to industry news site. Have an SEO site? Write an article and submit to WebProNews. Have a site about BLANK? Submit to
12. Syndicate a press release. Take the time to make it GOOD (compelling, newsworthy). Email it to some handpicked journalists and bloggers. Personalize the email message. For good measure, submit it to PRWeb, PRLeap, etc.
13. Track who picks up your articles or press releases. Offer them exclusive news or content.
14. Trade articles with other webmasters.
15. Email a few friends when you have important relevant news asking them for their feedback and/or if they would mind referencing it if they find your information useful.
16. Write about, and link to, companies with in the news pages. They link back to stories and blog posts which cover their developments. This is obviously easiest if you have a news section or blog. Do a Google search for [your industry + in the news].
17. Perform surveys and studies that make people feel important. If you can make other people feel important they will help do your marketing for you for free. did a study on how underpaid mothers were, and they got many high quality links.
Directories, Meme Trackers & Social Bookmarking
18. This tip is an oldie but goodie: submit your site to DMOZ and other directories that allow free submissions.
19. Submit your site to paid directories. Another oldie. Just remember that quality matters.
20. Create your own topical directory about your field of interest. Obviously link to your own site, deeplinking to important content where possible. Of course, if you make it into a truly useful resource, it will attract links on its own.
21. Tag related sites on sites like If people find the sites you tag to be interesting, emotionally engaging, or timely they may follow the trail back to your site.
22. If you create something that is of great quality make sure you ask a few friends to tag it for you. If your site gets on the front page of Digg or on the popular list, hundreds more bloggers will see your site, and potentially link to it.
23. Look at meme trackers to see what ideas are spreading. If you write about popular spreading ideas with plenty of original content (and link to some of the original resources), your site may get listed as a source on the meme tracker site.
Local & Business Links
24. Join the Better Business Bureau.
25. Get a link from your local chamber of commerce.
26. Submit your link to relevant city and state governmental resources. (Easier in some countries than in others.)
27. List your site at the local librarys Web site.
28. See if your manufacturers or retailers or other business partners might be willing to link to your site.
29. Develop business relationships with non-competing businesses in the same field. Leverage these relationships online and off, by recommending each other via links and distributing each others business cards.
30. Launch an affiliate program. Most of the links you pick up will not have SEO value, but the added exposure will almost always lead to additional normal links.
Easy Free Links
31. Depending on your category and offer, you will find Craigslist to be a cheap or free classified service.
32. It is pretty easy to ask or answer questions on Yahoo! Answers and provide links to relevant resources.
33. It is pretty easy to ask or answer questions on Google Groups and provide links to relevant resources.
34. If you run a fairly reputable company, create a page about it in the Wikipedia or in topic specific wikis. If it is hard to list your site directly, try to add links to other pages that link to your site.
35. It takes about 15 minutes to set up a topical Squidoo page, which you can use to look like an industry expert. Link to expert documents and popular useful tools in your fields, and also create a link back to your site.
36. Submit a story to Digg that links to an article on your site. You can also submit other content and have some of its link authority flow back to your profile page.
37. If you publish an RSS feed and your content is useful and regularly updated, some people will syndicate your RSS content (and some of those will provide links unfortunately, some will not).
38. Most forums allow members to leave signature links or personal profile links. If you make quality contributions some people will follow these links and potentially read your site, link at your site, and/or buy your products.
Have a Big Heart for Reviews
39. Most brands are not well established online, so if your site has much authority, your review related content often ranks well.
40. Review relevant products on We have seen this draw in direct customer enquiries and secondary links.
41. Create product lists on that review top products and also mention your background (LINK!).
42. Review related sites on Alexa to draw in related traffic streams.
43. Review products and services on shopping search engines like ePinions to help build your authority.
44. If you buy a product or service you really like and are good at leaving testimonials, many of those turn into links. Two testimonial writing tips make them believable, and be specific where possible.
Blogs & the Blogosphere
45. Start a blog. Not just for the sake of having one. Post regularly and post great content. Good execution is what gets the links.
46. Link to other blogs from your blog. Outbound links are one of the cheapest forms of marketing available. Many bloggers also track who is linking to them or where their traffic comes from, so linking to them is an easy way to get noticed by some of them.
47. Comment on other blogs. Most of these comments will not provide much direct search engine value, but if your comments are useful, insightful, and relevant they can drive direct traffic. They also help make the other bloggers become aware of you, and they may start reading your blog and/or linking to it.
48. Technorati tag pages rank well in Yahoo! and MSN, and to a lesser extent in Google. Even if your blog is fairly new you can have your posts featured on the Technorati tag pages by tagging your posts with relevant tags.
49. If you create a blog make sure you list it in a few of the best blog directories.
50. Start all over again.

Your friend/mate/fellow SEO GaryTheScubaGuy


Forum Cheermeister
Staff member
Jun 30, 1998
Stay away from sex oriented, gambling, RX and other unsavoury sites.

I've always been frustrated with the PR ranking. When this first came out, Casinomeister was ranked 7, then slowly slipped to 6, then 5 & 4. Meanwhile over these years I amassed massive amounts of original content - which in my opinion is what it's all about (it's not the Hokie Pokie). It doesn't make sense - the site is more informative and relevant, but not according to Google.

Another frustrating aspect is the importance (if any) on Alexa rankings. I used to rank 12,000 - 7,000 for years, but after the UIGIEA passed this plummeted to 60,000-30,000. (must have been a lot of webmasters bailing out of the business IMO) The traffic on the site has grown steadily since then - so what the 'ell?

I know that Alexa is only counted via its toolbar use, it is a pretty crappy way of doing any analyzation of a website. :rolleyes:

Thanks for the info though. Trying to keep us busy? :p


RIP Gary
Dec 19, 2008

Thanks for the info though. Trying to keep us busy? :p

I'm a part-time affiliate and also have top providers as clients. My 'credo' is that I don't having binding contracts to rope a company in by the short ones so that when results aren't seen one could rest on laurels and contractual obligations and continue collecting fees. For this same reason I also won't agree to most NDA's.

On the flip side I give everything I know away for free because I know it will probably change tomorrow or next week.

Affiliates are their bastard children that bring home the bacon and always will.

I'll keep you busy with info that the big guys can't integrate quickly, and this gives us a short-lived window of opportunity. But I'll keep giving it and keep that window open just a crack.

I know its a load of info and much is resource heavy, but I cam only tell you what I know and how to do it. The revenue that offsets the effort is entirely up to what you do and how much you get paid.

On a side note I've bought Harry Potter's magic twig so by this time next week I'll be able to work magic!! :thumbsup:

ps, Alexa is the most unreliable gauge you could use (and as you mentioned worthless). I have a bot that will get you to -10k, or -5k in 2 months, but it does absolutely nothing for you, but if you want it I'll set it up for you. If I had to make a decision though I would be a bit wary that it looked like bh these days.

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