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How to Build Links and Boost your Ranking

OK so you have optimised your site, written great content and checked your keywords. But you need to do one more thing to make sure the search engines give you the ranking you deserve which will attract new visitors which if all goes well should convert into customers.

This final step is called link building.

You may have read elsewhere that link building is the key to getting a number one spot but it’s far more important to build an interesting and informative website. On the other hand, there is no point in having a killer site if nobody can find you. As in all thing webby, you need balance.

There are three types of link associated with websites: Internal, Outbound and Inbound (AKA backlinks).

Internal Links

Internal links are those that link your pages together. Lots of ways to do this but the most important is to make sure you use text links and not leave any orphan pages. The search engines are pretty clever but unless they can get to all your pages they can’t add them to the index. Really good internal linking can give deeper pages a real ranking boost so it’s worth spending time planning your site structure.

There is, of course, a secondary advantage – great internal linking means effective navigation for your visitors. Here are a few navigation tips.

Outbound Links

Outbound links are those that lead to other websites. Many blogs, forums and information sites use outbound links to refer to related material. Other outbound links come from advertising boxes and banners.

Outbound links can take customers away from your website but they do form part of a good link building strategy as long as the links are relevant. Linking from a cooking site to a plumber does nothing for your credibility and the search engines certainly won’t be impressed.

I’ve put most of my outbound links in a resources page. If you do the same make sure you provide additional text to provide value. This means put this:

Here’s a great set of useful resources.

rather than just:


A link without a reason for its existence won’t help your visitors or your ranking.

Inbound Links

Inbound links are those where other websites link to you. These are the absolute best type of link to have if you want to improve your search engine ranking. But there are a whole load of pitfalls to gaining inbound links that can seriously harm your website. So here’s a breakdown of the types of inbound links and what to do and what to avoid.

The Natural Link

The crème de la crème of inbound links is from a popular, high ranking site. They are not easy to get but well worth the effort. Building a content-rich site full of material that people want to visit is a sure fire way to get noticed. Make yourself known to the super-site and if they like what see they may link to you. But do not ever self promote. An email or comment like:

Hey, just found your site – awesome. I sell watches, link to and maybe I help you keep time!

It’s no better than spam and won’t achieve anything.

Far better to let them find you – and they will, just don’t expect it to happen overnight. Scroll down to the bottom of the page for some ideas on how to promote your site.

Organic Search Engine Links

The main problem with search engines is that unless you are prepared to spend money on sponsored links (AKA adverts) you have no automatic right to be listed. But what you can do is provide a helping hand.

Find yourself a niche and promote the keywords that relate to that particular field of interest and you will eventually get visitors via the search engines. Remember though that the more common the keyword the less likely you are to stand out from the crowd.  If your site is sufficiently interesting or informative then the organic links will follow – it just takes time.

The name given to improving your organic ranking is Search Engine Optimization.

Paid for Links

Next up are the paid links. The most common are the sponsored adverts that have infested many websites and the ‘adwords’ type link you see in most of the search engine results pages.

There is nothing wrong with these types of link – except they are not free and have a very limited value unless your site is useful, informative and delivers what the visitor expects. There is little point in paying for a link unless you have a site that people want to visit. On the other hand, a well targetted advertising campaign and optimised landing page can be very lucrative and provide a better ROI than just linkbuilding.

Note also that paid for links will not improve your ranking – most of the search engines will ignore paid-for links. You also need to be careful about paying for articles and blog posts, the search engines are able to spot sites that allow paid submissions and may penalise those who use them.

Directory Submission

For a long time directory submission was the mainstay of the linkbuilding industry. The search engines have got wise to this and most directories are now worthless.  There are still a few that have value so search out those relevant to your niche. Never under any circumstances pay someone to submit your site to anything – all you will get is junk.

Be especially wary of the SEO company who promotes directory submissions as their first gambit. Many have found that these submissions are pointless and can hurt your ranking.

See here for more thoughts on the SEO scams.

Articles and Guest Blogging

Like directories, article sites were once a great source of links. But they then got spammed and now have virtually no value.  Articles however are still worth writing – just put them on your own site. You get all the links, the ranking and the visitors.

And because articles no longer have any SEO value people are turning to guest blogging. Equally pointless as the search engines will ignore them for the spam fest they really are. If you can get a guest spot on a popular and respected blog then it will have value. But if you end up on a blog along with thousand of spun articles for viagra then it’s not going to be worth anything.

Reciprocal or Exchange Links

This is where you swap links with another site. They have zero value. Worse than that, the search engines actively penalize sites that practice link exchanging. Do not swap links. Ever.

Promoting your site

Lots of ways you can do this. Here are a few example of things you can do (for free):

  • Join forums and write useful posts. You may need to wait a while but you will be able to add your URL to your signature. But be careful, Google is now considering penalising signature links if they don’t add value.
  • Build a blog and write interesting/useful/informative articles.
  • Write comments on popular blogs. But be careful, linkdropping won’t help and spammy comments will get filtered out and even get you banned.
  • Issue press releases telling the world what you are doing.
  • Provide educational material that schools and universities can use (for free).
  • Build tools and applications that others find useful.
  • Keep adding fresh content to your site with lots of internal and outbound links.


The key to a successful link building strategy is to start with a website that people will want to visit again and again. If the site is popular you will soon begin to build up links from around the world. But if you concentrate on the easy options you will languish way down the ranking along with everybody else.

Effective link building is not easy – and the search engines aren’t going to give you top slot unless you have earned it.


Eric Ward Link Moses:

The Ultimate Link Building Guide:

  1. social fusion seo on 27 May 2017:

    This is a great detailed post. This is very informative facts that I found very useful. Thank you for the effort in write this. I will be defiantly back again soon to read more

    Reply to social fusion seo

    • Aerin on 18 Jun 2017:

      Just thought I say that ‘social fusion seo’ has never returned as promised. One would think that maybe they only did it for the link but no SEO company would be so crass would they…

      Reply to Aerin

  2. Craig Slight on 12 Mar 2014:

    not of encouragement to new webmasters,inrecent years built a new site and promoted furiously myself and it ranks very high for most my keywords,my friend built another site but doesnt believe in reading,or promoting his site ,can’t find his site anywhere.My site got to page #1 within a week,his ,it’s been months no sign of it yet.
    Promote hard,and make sure all basics are correct.

    Reply to Craig Slight

  3. Clinton on 27 Jan 2014:

    Good quality links are those that contain good content that is relevant to your web page. These relevant links provide visitors to the site the opportunity to find more information related to the topic on the page and consequently improve the visitor experience.

    All of the major search engines work on the basis that websites should be optimised for the visitor and not for the search engine. Therefore relevant links to pages or sites that contain good content are encouraged by improved ranking. These links can point to pages on the same site or to other sites as long as the content is well written and contains relevant content.

    The same applies to incoming links. High quality incoming links (those that are relevant) increase the page ranking while low quality incoming links (those that are not related to the page and are exclusively link swaps) can lead to penalties. For more on this see the Google webmaster guidelines

    In summary, references to other sites that contain good content and that are relevant to your site or page are good. It is easy to test whether a link is worthwhile simply by asking the question does this link add to the visitors’ experience? If it does, then the link is good and should be included.

    Reply to Clinton

  4. jamie on 29 Jul 2013:

    Do footer links count as backlinks? I was wondering if making websites for pet services and adding a “website by BDWS” to the footer would be beneficial or just a waste of time for the effort put in?

    Reply to jamie

    • Aerin on 06 Aug 2013:

      I used to add them to sites I built bacause they did help once (before the SEO industry started in anger). But not anymore. Like all free links Google mostly ignores them. What they will do however is provide a bit of free marketing. The ‘this is a nice site I wonder who built it’ type of thing.

      Reply to Aerin

      • Scott Heron on 12 Nov 2013:

        Hey there! I’ve been following your weblog for some time now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give
        you a shout out from Austin Tx! Just wanted to say keep up the good work!

        Reply to Scott Heron

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