Remember the days when SEO used to be so easy? All you had to do was get some directory links, some forum links, write a few guest blogs (the low hanging fruit) and then Poof! – You’re on the first page of Google. And then Panda and Penguin came along and made these link-building efforts practically obsolete right? Well not entirely.
In the wake of these Google updates, SEO’s have put more emphasis on content creation, social media engagement, and community building – you’ve probably seen a lot more info-graphics, more whiteboard videos, and more guest blog inquiries lately.
This strategy isn’t anything new, as quality content has always been the foundation of SEO. But to suggest that the “old link-building” ways don’t work anymore is simply not true. Having a diverse link profile is crucial with SEO and the “low hanging fruit” such as directory links, forum links, and Web 2.0 links still play a role.
These types of links have been overly abused over the years and low quality directories have been identified as “link farms” by Google. Steer clear of any general directories that look like ghost towns and seem to attract a lot of spam. Stick to directories relevant to your niche and that are actually getting traffic. SEOmoz keeps a list of quality directories and constantly filters them, this is a great resource for SEO’s and does require subscribing to their toolset.
Adding links in forum signatures is another tactic that got abused over the years and Google was quick to devalue these links. However, there are thousands of active forum communities out there for all kinds of niches and you can still get quality links and traffic to your site by joining the conversion. As long as the links are natural and add value to the forum users, forum administrators will allow the links and you’ll get SEO value from them. Links within forum signatures hardly provide any SEO value, but can still send traffic to your sites. Just like directories, stick to forums that are relevant to your site and appear to be of high quality. For example, if you produce software that integrates with QuickBooks, then contributing to the Intuit forums adds value to that community.
Web 2.0 Links
WordPress, Tumblr, Squidoo, Hubpages, and Blogger are the more popular members of this list. You’d need to create content for all of these as just adding links provides no value. These links don’t provide much link-juice to your site, but act more to add diversity to your profile from trusted domains. These are also good for building “2nd tier” backlinks to increase your depth – basically building links to your links.
All Things in Moderation
SEO is not dead like many doomsday advocates are saying – Google will always need signals to rank content within its search engine. If you put all your links in one basket (getting the same kind of links), then that basket most likely got crushed by the recent Google updates. A natural and relevant link-profile is the key to success in the post-Penguin era. If you don’t already have an audience, then the “build it and they will come” methodology won’t work for you, you need to expand your outreach by getting links. Nothing will replace producing quality content as the backbone of SEO, but forum, directory, and Web 2.0 links should not be ignored. They have their place and like everything else – should be used in moderation.
*Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net