Farming for Links?

How to grow your own quality backlinks….no farming involved!

Farmer Inspecting WheatIt’s common knowledge by now that external links (also known as backlinks) to your site are a critical factor in determining search engine rankings. The more quality links you have to your site, the higher ranking you will get. I stress the word ‘quality’ here, as backlinks can be found anywhere, but quality backlinks are a little harder to come by.

So, what about those emails you keep getting asking for reciprocal links from other sites? Some may be legitimate, but most are not. Most will be from what is known as a ‘link farm’. According to About.com the definition of a link farm is as follows:

“A link farm is a website set up with the sole purpose of increasing the link popularity of other sites by increasing the number of incoming links to those sites. They are typically made up of long lists of unrelated links.”

Some link farms are just networks of unrelated sites all linking to each other. These days, search engines want relevant links and will penalize sites for linking to or from a site that it considers a link farm and will remove link farms from their directories altogether. If you rely on organic search results from search engines, pay attention to where your links are coming from.

How then, do you get quality backlinks to your site? Here are a few good ways to increase the number of backlinks to your site:

  • Do your keyword research, and use these keywords to find other sites in your niche. Look for sites that are timely, relevant and provide quality information that people will use. If appropriate, ask a relevant site for a link back to yours. You will also find directories in your niche in your search, so be sure to get your site listed here. These should be industry-specific directories, so not considered ‘farms’ in this case. Some will offer free links, so take advantage of these first. It goes without saying that you should submit your site directly to the major search engines and directories such as Yahoo, Google, and DMOZ.
  • Search for, visit and comment on industry related blogs and forums. You will be able to post a link back to your site or blog in your comments and this provides a great avenue for backlinks and getting more traffic to your site in general.
  • Repurpose your blog and newsletter articles by posting them on article sites. A short bio about you will be posted with your article, providing another backlink.
  • Use the Firefox add-on tool SEOpen to see who is linking to your competition! Find your competitors’ sites and see what sites are linking to them, so that you can possibly link your site as well.

For a little website checkup, to see exactly where your site needs some help, check out HubSpot’s Website Grader. This tool will provide you some invaluable information about how and where you can improve your site for maximum SEO, usability and performance.

Do you have any other good resources for backlinks? I’d love to hear about them, so please share!