Attract Links to Your Web Site for Better SEO Results
When search engine spiders crawl your Web site, one thing they look for is links from external sites. There are a few different ways you can solicit links to your site, including link magnets, link baiting, link requests, and link buying.
Use link magnets to create quality links
Link magnets are elements on your site that you build in such a way that people naturally want to link to them. Much like a magnet attracts iron filings, these site content elements simply attract links. People happen upon your site, find the link magnet, and decide that it’s relevant and worthy of a link, so they stick a link to your content on their site. This happens because someone finds your page both useful and interesting, and it’s a process that happens over time. But it means that the link is generally going to be from someone who is actually interested in your industry, not just in your gimmick. Remember, search engines judge you based on your expertise, and good quality links from relevant sites add to that.
The Search Engine Relationship Chart available at Bruce Clay's site is a good example of a link magnet. People in the search engine optimization (SEO) industry find it relevant to their sites and useful for reference, so they link to it. The chart is continually updated, so it always reflects the current state of the ever-changing search engine landscape. For this reason, the chart maintains its relevance over time, as opposed to something brief and flashy that has no long-term value.
Use link bait to attract a lot of visitors
Link bait is an accelerated version of a link magnet. Link bait is anything that is deliberately provocative in order to get someone to link to you. Examples would be a cartoon that someone did of your boss, or a video depicting wacky hi-jinks in your office that was linked to a few well-read blogs.
Link bait, unlike link magnets, is usually more broadly appealing in scope and probably isn't targeting your core market. Like any other non-relevant link, a link generated from link bait is often not one that would be considered a high quality link in general. But it does have the bonus of bringing a lot of traffic to your site, and hopefully a few of those visitors may poke around your site and decide to give you a permanent link.
An excellent example of link bait is any kind of viral marketing. Blendtec, a blender company, gets tons of links and traffic off of their videos on their Will It Blend? site, where they put all manner of strange and surprising things into their blenders (like rakes, marbles, and iPhones) and post the videos on the Internet. Most sites linking to Will It Blend? are not directly related to blenders, commercial or retail, and certainly can't be considered blender "experts" by the search engines, so those links count for less.
Use link requests to attract related Web sites
Link requests are just what they sound like: e-mailing or contacting someone and asking for them to link to your site. If you find a site related to your subject themes that you would like a backlink from, you can contact them, providing them with information on what your site is, why you think it would be good to link to your site, and the anchor text with which you’d like to be linked to. It's basically like going door to door with your Web site and having to recite your pitch over and over again. Out of a neighborhood of 100 houses (or a hundred e-mails sent), you might get one or two takers. But is it worth the time and the effort for those two links? Link requests do work, but there’s not a lot of return for the time you put in, so it’s not really recommended.
Use link buying to advertise your site, but not for SEO
Ad link buying doesn’t mean going out and selling or buying links to your own site for SEO link building purposes. There are two loose groupings of link buying: buying advertising for traffic purposes but not for SEO, which is acceptable; and buying a link for SEO purposes that is not a qualified testimonial, which is considered deceptive and if detected could result in a spam penalty.
Acceptable link buying is paying for a link on someone’s advertising site. You must do it strictly for advertising and traffic purposes only, and not for link popularity. Google doesn’t like to consider paid links and does not assign weight to a paid link. Paid links may pass some value until detected, but after they're detected, you lose all SEO value and could incur a penalty.
If you do have a paid link on someone else’s site, ask them to place a rel="nofollow" attribute on it. This attribute alerts the search engines that link equity should not be passed via that link. This is also important because if Google discovers a sold link on the site, it might stop passing link equity to all of the links on the site.