A few days ago I was invited to answer a question on quora.com regarding link networks. The question being raised was what alternatives there might be for finding and buying good quality backlinks. The main objection being raised seemed to be cost, with many link networks charging very high fees for their service.

It’s a good question, and one I know a good many people have expressed an interest in knowing more about, so I thought that in today’s blog I would expand upon this topic and provide my best advice regarding link networks, buying links, and increasing the number of quality backlinks to your website.

Linking Matters

First of all, let me be clear about the whole concept of using link networks, or of buying links in any form. It’s not good. In fact it’s a practice which has been actively discouraged by Google since its launch of Panda and other updates throughout last year, and many link farms and link networks have been as good as blacklisted by the search engine. Certainly any value which such link networks provided originally has now been watered down to the point where it is virtually meaningless.

Now don’t get me wrong, because I know there will be people claiming to have bought backlinks for £150 or so, and seen them work. Yes, that’s true, but of course they will only work for a limited amount of time. Once Google discovers the link and determines it to be a paid for link it will immediately downgrade it. This in itself of course is ultimately a bad investment in my belief, but there’s another danger.

Because there is every chance that Google will downgrade your entire website’s ranking if it discovers that you have been buying backlinks. I can’t guarantee that will happen, but it’s a chance I would never feel comfortable taking, and would never recommend to any of my clients.

Rather than looking for quick fix instant results, effective online marketing and SEO requires a longer view, with each link seen more as an investment. Good quality links can not only hang around for years, they can continue to safely strengthen the position of your website, it’s reputation and credibility, as well as channelling targeted, quality traffic to your site. Link networks might temporarily fool the search engines into thinking your website is more popular than it is, but these types of links will never actually divert meaningful traffic to it.

These days the search engines are more concerned with the behaviour of your visitors, as well as how social media is connecting with your website. Here is a breakdown of how I would recommend you work on developing your backlinks.

Guest Blogging

This can be an excellent way of both developing your online credibility and brand recognition at the same time as establishing high quality backlinks which will be highly respected by the search engines. You’ll also be likely to find quality, targeted traffic making its way from guest blog posts to your site as well. The tricky part is in finding suitable guest blogging opportunities. One good site to try is MyBlogGuest which is a sort of matchmaking service for bloggers! You can also try using Google to search for opportunities, using various commands, such as:

  • site:.com inurl:blog “guest post” -“comments closed” -“you must be logged in” “KEYWORD”

This will identify guest blog posts written on the subject you’re interested in writing about, and which is not closed. Such blogs are likely to provide you with the opportunity to submit a guest blog proposal. Additionally you can find that writing good quality comments on blogs is a great way of establishing credibility, boosting brand visibility and sprinkling high quality backlinks in niche areas. One way of identifying such opportunities is to search Google using a command such as:

  • site: .com inurl:blog “post a comment” -“comments closed” -“you must be logged in” “KEYWORD”

This will find blogs which relate to your subject, and which are still accepting open comments. Don’t forget to swap the ‘.com’ for other reputable domain extensions such as ‘.edu’ and ‘.gov.uk’.

Article Marketing

Don’t for one moment believe those SEO ‘gurus’ who claim this is dead! Following Google’s release of Panda last year the article directories were heavily penalised until they sorted the wheat from the chaff. The result is today that whilst it is very much harder to get articles published on good quality article directories (such as EzineArticles.com) the benefit of doing so is very clear indeed. But to have any kind of success with article marketing today you must focus 100% on delivering quality. That means no PLR articles, no spinning and no fluff!

Web 2.0

This refers to sites such as Hub Pages and Squidoo – definitely worth while spending time on this.

Press Releases

Make sure you genuinely have something to say, and say it well. If you do this correctly you will be astonished at just how fast your press release is syndicated, generating many backlinks for free.

Link Baiting

This is an area I’ll expand upon in a forthcoming blog post, but basically it refers to creating content which can be shared and distributed for free such as ebooks, infographics and videos which attract natural backlinks. Done correctly this is very powerful!

UPDATE: I’ve just written a new article on Link Baiting.

Social Bookmarks & Networks

The search engines today are really focussing on these areas, so make sure you make the best use of social bookmarking as well as social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

If you found this post useful, please take a second to Google+ it, and feel free to tweet it and share it. Of course, if you leave a comment below then you’ll have already added one good quality backlink to your site, which is a start!


Image Credit: http://linkbuilding.net