In a recent post, I mentioned I built backlinks for this blog and my girlfriend’s blog, www.thatmutt.com. A couple people asked me to explain more about what I did. Despite what many new bloggers believe, traffic isn’t everything. Break down where your traffic is coming from, dissect the numbers, and you’ll see. One visitor coming from a Google search is more likely to stick around, read your article, purchase your product or seek your advise than one random visitor from either Digg or StumbleUpon. I have said before that I would trade 1,000 unique visitors for one commenter / subscriber. In the end, it is the people who get involved that will add the most value to your blog. So here are some ways to build backlinks to your blog and dominate your niche.
- Comment, comment and comment. I have about 60 blogs that I frequent on a regular basis and leave thoughtful comments when I do. I typically do this every 2-3 days to allow for people to update their blogs with new posts. If they have added more than one new post, I will try and comment on each new post. This builds my network. If you try this, you will find that in time they just might write a post about you or your blog. If people are writing about you and your niche, the search engine looks at that like you just won a gold star. Enough gold stars and you start to rank #1 in searches for your terms. You will have a higher ranking, more search engine traffic and better visitors coming to your blog. Problogger wrote about this yesterday and his blog receives 46% of its traffic from Google (P.S. he gets a lot of traffic).
- Contests. I know most contests are a lot of work to maintain and it sucks to do them often, but they are a great way to build backlinks. The owner of the Winning the Web contest got a lot more from hosting the contest than any single person who won something. He received 1,000s of backlinks, more RSS readers and a lot of name recognition from hosting one contest. Here it is a month later, and I still know about the contest and where it was, and I never even entered it. The same goes for the contest held at Sense to Save. If you don’t want to take the time to cook up a contest, simply find all the contests you can, and donate something to them. I got about 20 backlinks from donating to the Sense to Save contest from other bloggers re-posting the list of donors .
- Social networking and social linking. Before you start claiming I am a hypocrite, I will elaborate. I use social sites like Digg and StumbleUpon to build in anchor links. An anchor link is a link used in context with the keywords you want your site to rank higher in. For example, if I want my site to come up when people search the term “really expensive watches,” I would put the HTML <ahref=”http://www.joshwhitford.com/”>Really expensive watches</a> in the comments or description of the post I am submitting to the different social networking / bookmarking sites. The text “Really expensive watches” will be linked to my site. My site might never say anything about having “really expensive watches,” but if I get enough of these links out on the Internet, eventually I would rank #1 for the term. Ranking is all about links and link building. A great site to help with this is Social Poster. Other really good programs do this same thing but much faster like BookmarkingDemon. But if you don’t want to pay, then stick to the free ways of gaining backlinks. In a couple of weeks I have gone from page #10 on Google to page #1 for a variety of terms.
- Get your link and keywords on sites and blogs with good Page Ranking (PR). I have done this a number of ways. I actually have a number of bookmarking folders in my browser that I have labeled PR1, PR2, PR3… and so on. When I come across a blog that has a good page rank, I will bookmark it for later. Then when I have the time, I will go through each folder and see what the source code is for each site and if they have a no follow tag for their comments or not. If you go under “view” and then “source” in your browser, it will open the code for that page as a search engine would see it. If there is a rel=”nofollow”> followed by the name and comment, then I won’t use that site as a method of gaining backlinks. If I like the site and it has good traffic, I should continue to leave intelligent comments (not spam) and gain the trickle traffic from curious people. Remember they are sharing their page rank with you and you should be thankful for that. Leaving worthless comments does you no good. Recently, I commented on Tim Ferriss’s blog about the post I wrote about contacting Warren Buffett. The comment section is a “no follow,” but the links found in the post are normal “follow” links. When he took the information and link from the comment and inserted it into the post I gained a link from a blog with a PR6 (more to this but this is the basic idea).
- Pay, bribe, barter and swap. I don’t recommend purchasing or advertising the sale of links. The reason against it is simple. If someone wants your spot on the search page and knows you have paid for links, you are one report away from being kicked to the Google curb. If you can barter or swap links either in posts or with things like Entrecard credits, then it is much harder to prove any wrongdoing with Google or other search engines. This is why blogs who take on PayPerPost tend to get taken to the woodshed come time for page rank updates. Google knows when you are promoting sites for money and will punish you for “gaming” their algorithm. This is why John Chow doesn’t even show up on page #1 for his name. It really doesn’t matter for him if he shows up on page #1 because he makes good money selling paid links and ads on his blog. But, if a blog gets most of its traffic from Google and gets sent to page 5, then that could destroy that url’s future for traffic. Tread lightly and research before you act on the Internet.
This by no means is a complete list of ways to gain backlinks or is it the complete ins and outs of SEO. But the more you play, the better you will become. Everything about search ranking and page rank is based on the foundation of good backlinks and anchor text links. The more links you have pointing towards your blog on certain keywords, the higher you will rate for relevancy of those keywords. Nothing is impossible, and if you would like to rank #1 for Business you can, although you might spend 2 years building backlinks to do so.