Commentary: Link Outside The Box

As the person responsible for your website's success, you are always looking for more sites to link to you. With all the black hat spamming techniques people use and the over-generalized, misleading and often vague "tips" that you find at webmaster forums, it is truly a wonder that more of us have not outright shut down our websites and resorted to cold calling people just to move product or hard-sell services.

Do you know who's fault it is? Google, Yahoo, MSN and the myriad of other second-tier organic search sources. They use the number and quality of links pointing to your site as an indication of its value. On the surface it sounds great. Behind the curtain however, it's ripe for abuse. And a quick tour of the search results pages at these popular search engines will often prove this - especially in hyper-competitive industries. Some sites are shells with no real value and whose rankings are generated purely by the number of links pointing their way, not the value as determined by consumers. Either way, none of us are going to change the ways these major media companies do business, so we must work within the rules and processes they have established - well, not exactly.

So what's the solution to getting quality links?

First, it's not buying random links. Second, it's not spamming blogs with ridiculous comments. Third, it's not writing content for article directories. Fourth, it's not writing press releases for distribution. Fifth, it's not swapping one-way links with others.

So what can you do? I'm so glad you asked. Relationships. Partnering with others is the only way to get things done when it comes to moving up the SERPs. Make friends, extend your network and quit complaining that it's too hard. Don't tell fibs, be unique and develop outstanding solutions. And above all, stop paying attention to every two-bit SEO commentator.

On the Web, nothing, and I mean nothing is black and white - rather infinite shades of grey.

- First, sure, it's OK to buy links from other sites. In fact, it is a good idea if you have the resources. The key is that the other site has a substantial amount of traffic interested in what you are providing. That traffic means more attention for your website and that attention (if warranted) will get you inbound links.

- Second, while spamming blogs is a bad idea, engaging in the community of those blogs (even if they use that ridiculous no-follow attribute) is helpful, as they drive natural traffic to your site - if what you have to say is useful.

- Third, while putting your entire link strategy in the virtual hands of an article directory is risky, they do provide some low-quality link value for your site - as long as the content is original and not duplicated on your own website.

- Fourth, press releases are great but, more often than not, the people that could make a difference don't read them. Yes, you should focus on writing press releases that are newsworthy, but you should have a list of people in your industry on the ready that will be interested and make mention of it on their site.

- Fifth, it's not about "you link to me, I'll link to you." Seriously, it worked for a while when the search engines were simple and immature, but not anymore. You want a better way, right? Of course you do, you would not be reading this unless you did. There are services on the Web such as which act as forums for building actual, real-world relationships with other marketers interested in obtaining more links and more traffic.

- Sixth - this is a bonus - don't read the so-called experts in linking. They use too much jargon, they don't really care about your success, most everyone is trying to get you to buy their spamming software, join their link farm or fill up their crappy directory.

So what is this better solution? Relationships - plain and simple. Ideally, the way you run your business should be the same way you pursue more links to your online property. Your objective should be to have a raison d'etre which motivates others to link to you, write about you, and validate your online presence.