Firstly Google states that “Any links intended to manipulate Page Rank or a sites ranking in Google may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines” (https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en).
But to be honest any link building contravenes this rule so where do we stand? There are many types of links and they are all ok used in the right context. If you are a business, having your company listed in business directories is completely acceptable, but keep it relevant. Make sure you use recognised or local directories to your business, let’s face it DMOZ is a directory and provides results to many of the leading search engines, including Google.
When placing a link in a directory, don’t try to be spammy, think of it as an advert for your business, a piece of information that will be useful to the user. Find the most relevant section down to both industry and location. Describe your business and what you do concisely and correctly, and only use your business name in the heading. After all this is a directory and is designed to list individuals or organizations as a reference point.
In my opinion a link can also be provided as a reference in a forum or Yahoo answers. If a user is looking for information, a product or a service and your business is ideally suited to provide that service or product, you are actually helping the user to solve a problem or locate what they are looking for.
The best way to build links ethically is to provide great content and promote that content to be shared. If the content is both informative and engaging, it will be shared naturally across many platforms. Create LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter platforms, interact with your audience and share your content across those platforms. I like to think of these links as recommendations, if an article or a piece of content is being shared many times, for all intense and purposes, users are recommending this content by telling others about it.
This can be process can be applied to other platforms such as YouTube and Pinterest. If your site has lots of image of your products or services, create a Pinterest account and place those images with a link back to the relevant page in your site. If these images are compelling enough, they will be shared, the more shares you get the more natural links (recommendations) you have pointing back to your site.
We have all seen the power of YouTube and the viral way these videos spread around the internet, if you have a great video giving help or information about your services or products; back this up by adding great content to that video. Research your subject and title the video what users are searching, this will help to show your video to a wider audience. If your video is engaging enough, it will naturally be shared. YouTube is an internet sensation with some videos being viewed and shared millions of times which could result in thousands of natural links pointing back to your site, if optimised correctly.
Like everything in life, the end result is all about the preparation, if you work hard to create compelling, informative content and promote it in the right places, the rest comes naturally.
Promoting content on the internet reminds me of a saying someone said to me years ago and it is so true and still applies today; “Content is king, but links are everything”