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The Do's and Don'ts of a Successful Link Campaign

by David Nicolosi

The goal of all webmasters is to rank high in the major search engines in hope of generating increased traffic. Although links are just one of several dozen criteria used to determine a website ranking, it is still a very BIG part of the equation. Proper linking can mean the difference from modest success to tremendous success. The following guide will help you in your linking campaigns.

The Linking DO's DO submit your sites to the Open Directory Project, also known as ODP or DMOZ. The ODP feeds various other directories and search engines, so inclusion in the ODP is a must. DO exchange links with sites that contain relevant content as your own. Although reciprocal links do not carry the same weight they once did, they are still a very viable and effective way of promoting your website and gaining PageRank. DO create a section or several pages on your website dedicated to links from partners. Make sure that you keep the links per page to a minimum... preferably 25 or less. Also be sure to include enough relevant text on the link pages so Google doesn't consider them to be link farms (which are a series of links with no content). Finally, ensure you exchange links with websites of similar relevancy to your own to maximize link weight. DO include in-line links on your website. In-line links are when the link appears within the body of some text rather than in a menu or in the footer. Major search engines (Google specifically) put more weight on links surrounded by text. DO sign up for services that provide one-way relevant links, such as Free Links Direct. One-way relevant links are believed to have the most weight in Google's algorithm that generates PageRank. With Free Links Direct and similar services you'll receive one-way links at a steady pace each month, which is favored by search engines. Best of all, you have little to nothing to maintain on your end. DO keep tabs on who you exchange links with to ensure the partner keeps your link on their website. Perhaps the most frustrating part of link exchanges is keeping track of links. DO use simple HREF tags when generating links rather than code or JavaScript to produce them. The key is to keep static links on the page that Google and other search engines will have an easy time crawling.

Now that you understand the DO's of successful linking, let's take a lot at the flip side of the coin, the DON'TS of linking.

The Linking DON'TS DON'T exchange links with link farms or anything that remotely appears to be a link farm! This cannot be stressed enough as doing so will only get your site devalued in the search engine algorithms. Sites that harvest link farms are usually easy to distinguish and should be avoided at all costs. DON'T use irrelevant text in your links. NEVER use "click here" as the text for ANY link! The idea when creating a link is to keep it relevant to your website content so the search engines know what it's linking to. If your site is about Online Casino Strategies, make sure the link text reads "Online Casino Strategies". Also, if you are directing users in your site to a contact us page, favor structuring the link as "Contact Us" vs. "Click here" to contact us! DON'T exchange links with sites that are completely irrelevant to your own. Avoid the temptation to exchange your link with any and every site you come across. In the long run it is simply going to cause more harm than good. DON'T hide relevant links unless there is reason to do so! Hiding a link from a link exchange is in essence cheating the webmaster you've exchanged links with. Integrity and honesty are very much tied to link exchanges and webmasters need to treat each other fairly by ensuring Google and other search engines will value their partners links. DON'T use a program to auto-generate your links. Google may penalize a site that is generating links on the fly. DON'T use the NOFOLLOW tag unless there is legitimate reason to. The NOFOLLOW tag is used to prevent Google from following the link, essentially de-valuing the link completely.
It is important to understand the Do's and Don'ts of linking and to follow a certain code of ethics. May all your link campaigns be meet with great success.

David is a Senior Programming consultant and SEO expert with over 10 years experience in the IT industry. David currently owns several successful websites, including Free Links Direct, a free SEO service that provides one-way links and quality SEO articles and tips.

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