Link building is a fundamental part of any SEO plan. The original algorithms used to determine a sites ‘authority’ for a certain keyword by all of today’s major engines were based on inbound links.. and they still are today. Maybe less so, but links are a major factor in getting your ’keyword’ to rank. There are many different ways to go about finding links and there will surely be new ways in the near future, here are a few…

A. Directories
There are all types of directories out there. At the base level, they are just list of website that are categorized. Some are simple, unedited list and other are highly organized and human edited. Some are free; some you must pay a fee. Look for directories in your market or area of business.
SEO Recommendations: Right now Yahoo and DMOZ are the only 2 major Directories that are a must for any website. and Best of the Web are second tier directories that can be beneficial. For the most part all others have little value. Some industries, verticals, and market segments do have smaller directory type sites that can be valuable; you’ll have to do the research for that.

1. Get in Yahoo Directory
2. Google “‘Keyword’ Directories” to find some niche directory sites
3. Avoid automated submissions, do it manually

B. Blog Comments
A very common and previously effective way to grow links, blog comments are free and relatively easy to find. To do this, find article/blog posts that are on topic with your needs and post relevant responses with your keywords in anchor text.
SEO Recommendations: If you’re looking for a quick increasing in rankings, this really doesn’t work much anymore. Most blogs like Wordpress and Blogspot, set all comments to be ‘NoFollow’. Which means search engine crawlers will not follow them; hence they will not send any link value. This can still be beneficial. Some blogs remove the no follow tags, find some of those and they will help. Also, building these low quality links will over time substantially increase your total inbound links, which gives your site authority and will increase rankings. To make things a bit easier, get a pluggin that shows you page rank and if a link is no follow, it will help you find quality blogs. For Wordpress blogs, if you post a comment and a white screen appears, your URL or email address has been banned.

1. Avoid using the same keyword or email address to often, you can banned
2. Find sites that are ‘no follow’
3. Make relevant comments

C. Buying Links
Buying links is a very common practice. This is the process of finding potential link partners and offering them cash in exchange for a dofollow link with the anchor text of choice. You can contact websites on your own or go through link brokers to do so.
SEO Recommendations: Buying links is against Google's Webmaster Guidelines, but they can be very effective. Be careful who you buy links from. Getting a link in a ‘bad neighborhood’(network of links considered ‘spam’) can wreck your search rankings. I don’t recommend link broker, as most I have found to be ineffective, but some are good…do your research. The better the link, the more it’s going to cost. Also, make sure to look into the strength of the link….PageRank, inbound links, and domain age of the link are good indicators. There are risks… If you’re paying someone you don’t know for a link you don’t know of….you’re in trouble. Developing relationships with other site owners and buying from reputable sources is the way to go.

D. Government and Educational Links
These types of links are really valuable for a website. Government and educational sites have a ‘built in’ authority by virtue of the establishments they represent. Links with good anchor text from a .edu or .gov domain can be some of the most powerful.
SEO Recommendations: This will take some time and effort…some connections don’t hurt either. Contact your alumni association or local government; see if they have any opportunities. Whether you buy a link or sponsor an event that results in link, there are a lot of ways to do this.
Risks: This can be time consuming, so wasting time on an unobtainable link could happen. Other than that, I would recommend exploring these options to all webmasters.

1. Contact your alumni association
2. Talk to local political leaders
3. Target school groups, clubs, etc

E. Social Media
Social Media is on the rise and while they are not a great source of direct links, they can lead to references and links to your site from many other place. Twitter can get your message published in dozen of places at once, Facebook comments can be seen by hundreds of ‘friends’…Linkedin and Youtube can help as well.
SEO Recommendations: These links don’t pass much authority, put they can generate traffic and other back links. A sweet tweet can generate links from feeds and aggregators, which will pass some ‘link juice’. The search engines will also notice this activity and it will weigh in favor of your site iin natural keyword rankings.

1. Get a Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin account now
2. Run promotions through these services to attract customers
3. Be Active

F. Link Baiting
Generating links through offering a resource others will want to link to. This involves creating and application, deal, or other ‘thing’ that others will want to link to. For an SEO company, this might be a free keyword ranking report. Letting others know you have this free application available, they will link to it for others to use.
SEO Recommendations: This is one of the most straight forward, reliable ways to build quality links. It can take some time, but in the end, it will greatly help your organization. Find something that people in your market will want…and want to share. Then give it to them.
This is organic link building at its purest. Put ‘something’ out there that people want and they will link to it on their own. The search engines know this and will weigh these links the most.

G. Reciprocal Links
Link exchanges go back to the early days of SEO. It goes like this…”I’ll trade you a link on my site for a link on your site!” You probably have seen this offer in email form, which is probably spam. Some sites have ‘resources’ section where you can add your link in exchange for one from your site.
SEO Recommendations: I recommend staying away from most of these types of link building. If it looks ‘spammy’ or may be a link ‘network’ you’ll want to avoid it. I do see value in trading links with well known or reputable sources. Asking a local business that you deal with, trading a link with your brothers website, or any cross advertising that makes sense.

H. Competitor Link Research
One of the best ways to find these and all types of back links is through competitor research. Utilize Yahoo’s Site Explorer to see what links your competition in the natural search results has. Don’t worry, everybody copies what the leaders are doing, you have to catch up to get ahead.
SEO Recommendations: Take the top 5 results from Google for your main keyword term and research the back links for each of them. You can then develop a list of opportunities based on the links they have ( feel free to target the same exact sites). Once you have that list, find or create the chance to get a link from that resource. It will take some time and some strikeouts, but you’ll start to build a quality list of inbound links.

1. Use Yahoo Site Explorer
2. Find your top 5 competitor on Google
3. Keep at it

I. Press Releases
Writing high quality press releases and submitting then to sites like PRweb. A well written press release on a topic of interest will be picked by publishers all over the web. From news agencies to local government sites, the number depends on your article and the topic of which was written.
SEO Recommendations: If anything ‘news worthy’ is going on with your organization…write a press release. Good topics to write about are charitable endeavors, going ’green’, or any positive story that doesn’t sound like a ‘sale’. Press releases on new products can seem like advertisements, make sure to focus on what it does, not how to buy it. I my opinion every company should be doing at least a few

Link building is a continuously evolving practice. In the competitive SEO market, it is key to building an authoritative online presence and to keeping your ranking visibility. The most successful websites are constantly building and growing their linking capabilities. Be creative, find ways we haven’t discussed here and take control of your web sites future.