Ethical Linking Strategies for Natural Search Engine Optimization

Links are to internet sales what cold calling is to face-to-face sales. (Though less horrific.) The best links take marketing savvy and good skills to build. As the backbone of the web, hyperlinks are integral for the success of your website. There’s only one way to get around online–by clicking on links. No links? No website. The active pursuit of high quality and authoritative links will ensure the ultimate success of your website.

95% of Search Engine Optimization is Links

That’s right. In quest to offer good grub to hungry searchers, search engine algorithms scrutinize websites using every imaginable formula (and then some). The success of Google, Yahoo, MSN, Ask Jeeves and so many other search engines hinges on the quality of results offered. Search engines place higher value on those websites that have high incoming link popularity. When another website links to your website it is a signal to the search engine crawlers that your website is worth visiting. The consensus? Get High Quality Links.

High Quality Incoming Links are Solid Gold

It’s the high-quality links that count. The quality of an incoming link is determined by the same factors as search results. Incoming link ratios, the website’s ranking in Google, and overall relevancy of the website are considered. Other factors include: the specific text used for linking, the quantity of links from one site, and even the location of the links in the site’s hierarchy (on the first page, or five levels down). It’s one big cycle. The higher the quality the link, the more it benefits you. The higher up you go, the more you benefit others.

Incoming Link Quality

Determining the quality of an incoming link is important, especially when your site gets to the point where you’ve exhausted all natural ways of generating links and you’re ready to purchase text links. Here’s a few ways to determine the quality of a given link:

  • MarketLeap report. This is an invaluable tool that will tell you everything about the website that’s linking to you, as well as your website. There are tools at Marketleap that will help you determine the search engine saturation and link popularity of your site and your competitors too. Visit Free SEO Tools for more information.
  • Find out where the site ranks in Google. This The site should be indexed by Google, and is even better if it ranks well. Check MarketLeap for this information too.
  • No more than two clicks away from the home page.  A quality link is one that is near the top of the site. Off the home page is sublime, and a click away is fine. Linking experts recommend getting links no more than one or two clicks away from the home page.
  • Few Links on the Page. Link farms are cropping up faster than clover in Texas grass. These pages are chock-full of hundreds of links. Search engines are keen to this trick and give less weight to the outgoing link from such sites. Opt for fewer links per page.
  • Relevant to Your Website. A link that’s from a website that’s similar to yours, not the same, but similar is rated better than one completely off-the-wall. It’s best to pursue links from sites that are symbiotic to your own. It brings the best incoming traffic and rates higher with the search engine crawlers.

Unethical Linking Practices

Sure, there are ways to trick the system, but not for long. The methods search engines use to quantify sites are constantly evolving and getting more precise. If you get hundreds of links overnight from link farms or some other ruse, the search engines are well prepared. Don’t even go there. They don’t want false results showing up in their search results. If you try to trick the system, your site can be penalized and even banned from the search engines that catch you. 

Generating Incoming Links to Your Website

Since link building is important to the success of your SEO marketing campaign, you should use a variety of link building options for your own link building campaign.  

Natural Linking: The most basic and best way to get links is by writing content good enough for others to want to link to your website. Remember, the more juicy and popular the website linking to you, the higher up the food chain you will go. It’s difficult for someone with a new website to generate a high number of quality incoming links based on content alone. Other strategies can be employed as you build a solid web presence.

Reciprocal Linking: Reciprocal linking happens when you trade links with another website owner, where both benefit. This practice is becoming devalued however, as the Google seems to be lowering the importance of sites linked reciprocally.

Directory Links: Human edited directories are popular on the web. Search engines rely on directory results they are human edited and likely more relevant to searches. The number one directory used by Google is the DMOZ/ODP. In 2004 a myriad of high quality human edited directories have cropped up that are good for your search rankings.

Fee Based Directories: Some directories we submit to are GoGuides, UncovertheNet, SeavenSeek and These directories charge a fee for review and your website is not guaranteed a listing. The Marketing Shop can help you get listed on these directories because some of us are editors on these directories and we understand the stringent guidelines.

Text Link Ads: Purchasing text link ads from other high ranking websites is a sound way to gain incoming links. Text link ads range from $20 per month to $2,000 per month depending upon the site you purchase. Either way, the ad pays off by generating traffic to your website and helping you get to the top of search results for your keywords. 44See available Text Link Ads.

Online Yellow Pages: You can also obtain links by having an ad in the online yellow pages such as Superpages or  Smartpages. These local web advertising outlets are great ways to get business and a link at the same time. 

Associations: If you are a member of an association, it is critical that they give you a link from their website to yours. Many associations have a Membership Directory online and offer a website link for you. As long as these directories are set up correctly, they will provide a high-quality link for you. One of the best associations online is BBB Online.


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