You don’t need to know much about SEO to realize links are the golden road to blog promotion. But how do we go about getting them? Which link building methods produce the best results?
I recently did an in-depth analysis of my site’s (http://www.projectparadox.com/) inbound links, their relative value, and the methods that produced them. Here are the link building methods that I found to be most effective (below you will also find the methodology used).
1. Blog Carnivals (13 links, 16.26 value, 1.25 average value per link)
Putting time and energy into evergreen posts can pay off even greater dividends when you submit them to appropriate blog carnivals. The resulting links are valuable, relevant, and good for attracting comments.
2. Friends & Partners (5 links, 14.13 value, 2.83 average value per link)
Got a friend who blogs? See about getting on his or her blogroll. If one of your favorite bloggers submits an open call for post submissions, jump on it. You may not get a large volume of links, but the few you get can be worth their weight in gold.
3. Group Writing Projects (11 links, 9.17 value, 0.83 average value per link)
Specifically, Darren’s “Top 5” group writing project. The volume of links was outstanding, although their relative value was diminished by the large number of outgoing links on each page. Considering it didn’t take long to write the post, however, I’d say it was well worth the minimal effort involved.
4. Links to Quality Posts (5 links, 7.44 value, 1.49 average value per link)
Writing quality posts is a good way to get links without ever having to ask for them. As a blog gets more readership and exposure, the value of quality posting increases exponentially.
5. Free Directory Submissions (5 links, 5.49 value, 1.1 average value per link)
Not surprisingly, free directories tend to have lots of links and low PR because of deeply-nested categories. I’ve made several dozen submissions to achieve minimal returns with this method. The three directories that showed any value were Dmoz, SoMuch.com, and Globe of Blogs.
It’s worth noting that several link building tactics did not produce results. Leaving comments, for example, is only good for referral traffic and exposure; almost all blogs tag comment links with rel=”nofollow”, so commenting is practically useless for link building purposes. Likewise, old school webrings often use deceptive redirect code that eliminates their value; don’t bother with them.
So, what are the take-home lessons from this analysis? First and foremost, participation is key. Blog carnivals and group writing projects are both excellent opportunities for link building.
Second, take every chance to network. Ask to get on your friends’ blogrolls. Reach out and connect with other bloggers in your niche. Offer to guest post in exchange for some bio links. Commenting can be an excellent route to developing these relationships, but they’re more like stepping stones to the goal than the goal itself.
Last, submit your site to blog indices and directories. Just don’t kill yourself to get in every single one you can find, since most won’t be worth the effort.
For those interested in how I arrived at the numbers above, here is my methodology. First, I went to my Google Webmaster Tools dashboard and downloaded all of the external links Google had found for my site. I then plugged these URLs into a multiple PageRank Lookup utility to determine their PR values, removing URLs with a PageRank lower than 1.
Next came the manual review. I went to each of the URLs and checked to see if the link to my site was present and followed (i.e., not tagged with rel=”nofollow”), removing URLs where it wasn’t. For those that were, I used the Firefox Web Developer plugin to count the number of outbound links on the page.
Last, I computed a relative link value from each link’s PageRank and outbound links using the formula: PageRank / Outbound Links Count * 85 (related to Google’s dampening factor, multiplied by 100 for the sake of easy comparison). I then grouped the links by their method of acquisition and tallied their overall values.
For those schooled enough in SEO to know that PageRank isn’t everything, I couldn’t agree more. I use it here only as a measurement of each link’s relative importance. Frankly, I don’t regard it as a very reliable value. However, it remains one of the only visible metrics that we have to work with.