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Acquiring Links: Whatever It Takes

Posted on 11.27.2007

You may take pride in how white your SEO hat is, but it does not change the fact that the hats of your competition may be increasingly grey, if not completely black at this point. The fact that links (more specifically the number and quality of links) matter online forces many in competitive industries to do whatever it takes to acquire back links to their online properties - you may be doing the same.

Increasingly, many web professional responsible for building inbound links find that other Web pro's simply don't want to exchange links (or use three-way link schemes) for whatever reason - fear of linking to "bad neighborhoods," fear of "devaluing PageRank outflow", etc. This fear is causing a virtual linking paralysis for many and is leading some of the more creative SEO's to turn to finding properties that accept generic site submissions just to generate a few back links. While it should come as no surprise that some inbound links are better than others - many (myself included) believe it's by all accounts a numbers game. So how do you build inbound links (back links) quickly and cost effectively (no paid links) that will benefit your website and its rankings?

Be Smarter Than The Machine!

Since many free directories are free software scripts they usually have (or leave) the same footprint. That means that you (the individual or group looking to boost your link counts) can find them if you know where to look. You are probably familiar with footprints without even knowing it. A footprint for our purposes here means the boilerplate text usually found at the bottom of the page. For example, very often you can see a phrase such as "Powered By: XYZ". If you can find these directories, you can successfully submit your site to them. But how do you find them?

You may first want to look at SourceForge.net or HotScripts.com to get started. I entered the term "directory" into the search boxes of both and found over 1100 listings of free directory software at SourceForge and some 500 listings at Hotscripts. What you'll need to do is research those with the most activity, find that "powered by" footprint, and conduct a query at popular search engines for those phrase. The whole process of identifying ten or twenty open directory scripts and finding sites which are powered by them should not take you more than an hour. Submitting your site will take a majority of your time.

Some ways to optimize this practice include:

  • Set up a separate email address to handle the inevitable SPAM that comes along with submitting
  • Vary the links that you submit to these directories (don't use the same URL each time or the same title/description)
  • Keep track of new links by using Google Webmaster Central or Yahoo! Site Explorer
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