by Dave Curtis on 04/26/2011

Obtaining Links

I think most web designers start out fairly clueless when it comes to how links are obtained from other web sites. I know I did. I thought links in “thousands of tiny web directories” and having a “links” page, and even that joining a few paid link exchange programs (with all sorts of rules and membership tiers and link-checking software options to make sure those linking to you were still there) were cool.

They’re not cool. Directories aren’t cool unless they’re useful and used serious business directories like DMOZ (which I still think is useful) and some of the better industry related directories.

The real links aren’t directory links, and they’re not paid links. Paid text links are OK for bringing more traffic to precisely targeted pages, and these links also contain the exact text that you specify so the traffic aught to convert better if you’ve done your homework right. But these are paid. The content on your site could just be ho-hum and even if someone goes there there’s nothing exciting enough for them to want to stay, come back, or recommend your page to anyone else.

That’s where content comes in – the best way to obtain links to your pages is with rock solid content that people want to link to.  When the content is good enough then the experts will link to it. Hopefully what’s written on the page pointing to you is glowing with approval, or citing your page’s information as further evidence to prove what they are saying – but either way (good or bad not so good) a nice natural link is always a desirable thing.

Content is King and Back Links are Queen

Back Links are what will build page rank. Page Rank is a thing that Google creates as a general indicator as to both the importance of the pages on your site and how much of your site is indexed by Google. Take a look at my page entitled Page Rank Myths Exploded – What it is, What it isn’t, How to get it to see how important obtaining links is to how important Google deems your site even without content. In the example study on the Page Rank Myths Exploded page I thoroughly research a site with virtually no content that has some hefty back links from friends and associate’s site in mere anticipation of good content to be written.

So What is Good Website Content?

It’s the message that you have to focus on. It’s not the keywords. What I mean by that is this: if you concentrate on making a sale or a conversion first, and you do it well enough then you’re going to make (in theory, anyway) the highest percentage of sales based on the people looking for your products or services that you can provided that they are the right people. The marketing copy optimization then takes it a step further to help insure that your site gets found for the keywords you need it to be found for and that the right long tail search phrases will also bring your site to the top of the search engine result pages as well. Timeliness is also a factor in many cases. If your site sells flowers and Mother’s Day is coming you’re going to want to make sure your content is freshly updated for Mother’s Day flowers. If you’re selling skin care products and a new contagious form of skin disease is all over the news, you’re going to write about that – maybe create a news section on your site to go into various aspects and (if true) how your products can help remedy or prevent the disease. So you’re really looking for timeliness and what’s trending at the same time. You can also use the tried and true method of seeing what keeps on being discussed and argued and debated year after year after year and start your own conversation going.

What About The Links?

There’s no exact order here but generally speaking you’ll already have a topic picked out Second you’re going to need to start by selecting good keywords. At that point you’ve got your piece ready and can now start getting the word out there by using social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, blogs and forums and, depending on the type of pages written, submitting written articles that permit you to place a link in the about the author section back to your stie, and creating press releases if your content is press-worthy.

A few article submission sites (if you find any dead links, I’m getting around to weeding them out so just go to the next one):

NOTE: Many SEOs today think article submission is a waste of time. Keep that in mind. I would personally write articles that I think may be helpful to people and if given the opportunity will link to my site or put information about where to find my site in my profile, but I wouldn’t write a lot of articles to try to manipulate Google rankings. Press releases are always going to be a good idea however (at least I think so right now). Article submission sites can work for you depending on how the type of site you have. I think they will work better for less highly competitive niches based on my theory that Google’s algorithm and manual checking tends to more carefully grade the most fiercely and intensely SEOd niche market areas. That said – I’ve written several articles that have had phenomenal rankings all by themselves for years.

  1. – Site ranked 6
  2. – Site ranked 6
  3. Site ranked 5
  4. Site ranked 5
  5. Site ranked 5
  6. Site ranked 2
  7. Site ranked 7
  8. Site ranked 5
  9. Site ranked 7
  10. Site ranked 3
  11. Site ranked 5
  12. Site ranked 4
  13. Site ranked 2
  14. Site ranked 4
  15. Site ranked 5
  16. Site ranked 0
  17. Site ranked 7
  18. Site ranked 4
  19. Site ranked 0
  20. Site ranked 4
  21. Site ranked 2
  22. Site ranked 5

Some press release sites:


Ok – so you’re pretty much set with the writing great content part, making it so that it’s effective and also keywording it properly. Now you’re also familiar with the article submission sites and some press release areas (free and paid) and hitting the blogs and getting to know people out there in social media.

Here’s where I have to tell you to stop. Stop right where you are. Social media sites are not for spamming your comments with a liberal portion of links back to your site. Social media sites are for being a human being and taking a look at what someone has written, thinking about it, deciding AFTER you’re finished reading it if you have anything you want to say that’s relevant and hopefully helpful to the blog article or page writer and using your real name (or your standard handle if you have one and prefer it). You’ll put your link to your site in the space provided in the blog so your name is clickable and anyone curious can go to your site. That’s how you get your first hits from no-follow links. And if your content is any good then some people may link to it from their own articles, posts, pages or sites.

I know people on Twitter for years and link to them freely wherever I think it’s cool. Sometimes I tell them but mostly I don’t. Do they link back to me? Sometimes. It’s my job to write better content. They won’t link to this page unless they like the press release links or article writing site links – and they could actually steal them from me and put them on their own sites without having to. Except if they do that then they’ll be losing all sorts of page rank because of so many outbound links (36 outbound links!) so they MIGHT want to link directly to this page. That would make this page “link bait” but that’s not what I’m trying to do – even though it is link bait. And that’s really what you have to do too. Create interesting useful linkworthy content.