As search engines dampen 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 of pretty much every inbound linking scheme out there. In the end, I’ve only seen five strategies that really work consistently to get hundreds of links.
Nevertheless, there is a continuing interest in alternative linkage strategies. Why? Perhaps because the top five effective strategies require a certain amount of hard work and SEO is an endless magic bean hunt for many people. So, before we look at these five most effective strategies, let’s look at some of the supposedly easier alternatives.
- Link farms never seem to die. The latest variations attempt to masquerade as viral marketing, but are actually a kind of endless pyramid scheme: you link to me, so I link to someone else who links to someone else, and so on and so forth. 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 you name all.
- Many one-way inbound linking strategies fall into the “great if you’re lucky enough to get it” category, such as:
- Other one-way inbound link strategies fall into the “this will take forever to get anywhere” category, such as: (Note: If you get more than twenty links this way, you’ll probably need to simplify your supply line.)
Now let’s move on to the top five ways to get a large number of one-way inbound links. Some are better than others, but they all have more potential than some of the crazier strategies. Of course, no strategy is a good strategy on its own. You need to understand all five strategies to truly gain a competitive edge in one-way link hunting.
1. Waiting for incoming links
After all, if you have good content, you will naturally get inbound links without asking. Organic shared links are an essential part of any SEO strategy. But you can’t rely on it for two reasons:
- Unfortunately, “sometime” can be a very long time.
- There’s a vicious circle: you can’t get search engine traffic or other unpaid traffic without inbound links; but without inbound links or search engine traffic, how is anyone supposed to find you to give you inbound links?
2. Triangulate for incoming links
Search engines will have a hard time breaking reciprocal links if the response isn’t direct. To receive links to a website, you are offering in exchange a link from another website that you also control. This seems like a largely foolproof way to thwart the link dampening ambitions of Google and the rest. If you have more than one website, you probably already use this linking method. There are few disadvantages:
- You must have more than one website. Stop laughing! There really are companies that only have one website! In fact, they could be your customers one day.
- The effort involved in setting up such an arrangement and verifying compliance is not insignificant. The process cannot be automated to the same extent as direct one-to-one cross-linking.
- As with traditional reciprocal links, a very big disadvantage is that the links are mostly on “resource” pages, which are just lists of links. There is little chance of getting any significant traffic from these links. Also, any “resource” page can eventually become an easy target for link dampening if it hasn’t already.
3. Submit for inbound links
They’re SEO’s legendary fairytale lands: PageRank-bound, royalty-free, non-corrupt, and actually well-maintained directories of relevant links. Yes, they really exist. An SEO friend tells me he knows 200 good ones by heart. Also, there are other types of directories: directories of affiliate programs, sites using a certain content management system, sites owned by members of this or that group, sites accepting PayPal, etc. etc.
Ah, a link in a PageRank-giving link directory: it’s a good deal if you can get it. But let’s say you get links from all 200 such directories and a hundred more from the small niche directories – what now?
4. Pay for incoming links
Buying and selling text links on high PageRank websites has become big business. Buying good traffic-generating “clean” links is a great alternative to pay-per-click advertising that doesn’t bring any SEO benefit. However, there are a number of pitfalls of relying primarily on paid links for SEO:
- The cost of hundreds of links required to generate significant search engine traffic can become prohibitive.
- Once you stop paying, you lose your link – you’re essentially renting it rather than owning it, with no “link equity” building up.
- Google is actively trying to dampen the impact of paid links on rankings, as evidenced by various patent applications.
- Given Google’s mission to dampen the effectiveness of paid links, paid link buyers have an interest in verifying that a potential paid link affiliate is “passing on PageRank.” But identifying suitable PageRank-passing paid link partners is quite a task in itself.
- Google actively seeks to dampen the impact of any “artificial” link campaign. Having most of your links on websites with PageRank 3 or higher seems to be a dead giveaway that your links are “fake”, since the vast majority of websites (note: not necessarily websites, but their pages) have PageRank 1 or lower. However, buying PageRank 0 or 1 links would have so little impact on a site’s PageRank that it wouldn’t be worth the expense.
5. Distribution of Content
All of the above four methods of generating inbound links really work. But it’s the fifth method for getting inbound links in one direction that holds the most promise: distributing content
The idea is simple: you give other websites content to place on their websites in exchange for a link to your website, usually in an “author’s resource box”, an “about the author” section 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. Also, your article will upfront readers about the value of your site.
The downside, of course, is that creating original content and then distributing it to hundreds of website owners is no small task. But nothing good ever came easy. And on the internet, one-way inbound links are a very good thing.
In summary, there are a number of ways to get inbound one-way links, and if you’re smart, you’ll use them all.