Good links are hard to come by, but if you throw enough against the wall, something always sticks.
By regularly submitting to web directories*, making sure your blog is pinging news services, submitting your RSS feeds, submitting content to article directories, and even by linking to your own internal pages with good anchor text, you’re going to continue to grow those inbound links.
This post is dangerously outdated
“Rented” links are another story, and Google’s position is that paid links are definitely bad. They are aggressively fighting to identify and devalue any inbound links that are determined to be paid, and they are penalizing sites that are selling the links.There’s no denying that it still works, because they can’t catch everything, but as time goes on, they’ll catch more and more. For now, there are still too many ways to “fly under the radar” and they can’t possibly catch them all, but if you’ve been buying your links, it’s time to consider a more long term strategy.
What Google can do, and what they ARE doing, is “penalizing” websites that are selling links without the nofollow tag, and they are penalizing them by lowering their green toolbar PageRank.
At this point, Google has not yet lowered these sites rankings, but in my opinion, this was sort of a warning shot across the bow to warn those selling links that they should stop, or that’s next.
I’ve personally paid for links for my own sites before, and some even on a monthly basis, because I believe they have value in the traffic they might bring. It’s a safe bet that if Google “catches” those sites selling links, then any value they have for my ranking will be removed, if it hasn’t been already.
In my opinion, Google can never penalize someone for buying links. Otherwise, an entire cottage industry would pop up buying links for your competition. Instead, what Google does is devalue an inbound link that they determine to be paid and put in place only for ranking purposes.
I believe that the way that they devalue the juice of an inbound link is not by devaluing the link itself, but by devaluing the overall PageRank of the site that is passing along the link to you – i.e. – that makes your link worth a bit less.
The bottom line is that without some sort of link building going on, you’re just not going to be pulling ahead of the competition, and you have to try everything within the Webmaster guidelines.
It’s also extremely important to build links to many different pages on your website, and with many different variations of anchor text too. There’s never a reason to focus all of your link building activity on a single web page, or with identical anchor text. When a site naturally acquires links, they come in all different flavors, to different areas of the site. The key to success is to appear “natural”, so be sure to diversify tour targets and your anchor text accordingly.
Linking to others, commenting (intelligently) on forums and blogs, writing great content of your own, and creating useful tools are only a few ways you can make links happen. Here are a few other link building ideas that might spur your imagination…