More and more conventional link building methods, like directory submission are of less and less value, Google does not even recommend high quality paid directories any more. In fact soon we’ll see a situation where all artificial ways of link building will be frowned upon.
On the other hand former SEOptimise writer and renowned UK search marketing blogger Patrick Altoft reported a few days ago about companies which spend thousands on link buying budgets per month. This way of link acquisition is not allowed by Google for a long time by now and many high profile sites have been penalized already.
While the urge of spending money on links comes as no surprise it is met by an often low quality shady part of the SEO industry. Getting links naturally requires also an investment, an allocation of time and resources combined with know how in some Internet industries like web design or development but not solely.
The money gets spend not on the links directly but on a web venture that gets links naturally and sustainably over time. The allure of “free” is in most cases the key to get links but also altruism leads to a direct ROI in terms of links. So think twice before spending money directly on low quality links.
Stop link building artificially and use one or several of the following 30 ways to get links naturally:
- Create a timeless or regularly updated resource list, example Web developer’s Handbook
- Program a free tool or software everybody needs in a particular niche but not everybody offers yet (compare the query font tester vs color picker)
- Develop a high quality theme or template for a well known platform like WordPress, Drupal, Joomla that gets updated along the software
- Program a WordPress or other popular blog platform plugin, in the best case a platform independent one like Akismet
- Develop a Firefox plugin for a recurring task or dealing with a widely spread annoyance like BugMeNot
- Organize a genuine yearly recurring competition like the Web 2.0 awards
- Organize a Recurring charitable event like the Blog Action Day
- Forge a lasting partnership with a similar service provider, like a graphic design agency joining forces with a PSD2XHTML provider
- Build a community like 9Rules where people “proudly” are part of and display on it on their sites
- Support artists with free or cheaper web hosting (or anything else they need) like MediaTemple does
- Mirror a high traffic site, for instance an open source software or an activist site
- Offer a rebate for a particular group, especially students but also workers class families, veterans or whatever disadvantaged group
- Offer free music or other audio downloads. or at least a way to listen to the audio online, that’s the secret of success of MySpace
- Offer free ebook or better free ebooks (more than one) like O’Reilly for instance
- Maintain a business blog updated regularly with high value resources, best example is Inside CRM
- Get your content translated and republished in multiple languages and countries
- Join a community and become one of the most valuable members like Maki of DoshDosh did on Sphinn and Digg
- Offer high quality free icons for download and free use
- Offer background patterns for free for web designers
- Offer free wallpapers for download and invite artist to modify them
- Create a Facebook application and maintain it over time
- Create a CSS solutions for common tasks or CSS problems or even better are whole set of solutions
- Offer free scripts and “chunks code” (like CSS as it’s not a script) for webmasters to use freely
- Create a highly useful and visually appealing Flash application like SimpleViewer
- Give away images using a creative commons license on your website
- Publish recipes for healthy, Italian, French, Chinese or any other kind of desirable food not everybody can buy
- Offer fundamental self improvement advice like hackyourself does
- Start a green initiative, whatever it might be, there are thousands of ways to do that, carbon free websites is great example
- Educate children, especially from poor families be it in the West or down in the “global south”, e.g. the 100 Dollar laptop gained huge recognition
- Help animals and boast about it displaying images of them you don’t have to as obnoxious as PETA
As you see many of these ways of getting links naturally are projects based on market forces or in other words on what many or most people need. The best thing on the Web is additionally that even free things normally not provided by the market can be offered in a profitable way as by gaining links the investment is made profitable at last.
Of course all these ways of getting links also get you reputation and fans and thus traction in social media too. People hate companies and businesses overselling but they love free stuff and those who offer it. When everybody loves you also those who are willing to spend money will find you.
In case you wonder now “how can I achieve that, I’m no programmer, designer, content creator, artist, activist” you don’t need to be, there are plenty out there are they’re short on money especially those from India. Sometimes even 100$ are enough.