About a year ago I wrote a post about this subject. But in today’s online marketing and SEO world, a year is practically a lifetime. With that said, things have changed in the way we believe backlinking should be done and how BOTH do follow and no follow links are important aspects of strengthening your sites ranking.
During the recent 15th Anniversary of Inman Connect in San Francisco, Darin Persinger and I had a conversation about this topic too. While Darin said that ANY backlinks (whether “do follow” or “no follow”) were welcomed, I would say that MOST backlinks would be welcomed.
The word to look for when doing anything online is “Natural“. If you only have backlinks that are “do follow”, then that would not be considered natural. To have both would be a natural progression to improving your search engine value (and ranking) as seen by the SEO Gods.
Which brings us to the first of the five simple steps to link building:
1. Inbound Links
To really get the SEO juices flowing, you need inbound links from other respected and relative websites and/or blogs.
This is where the slight variance in my and Darin’s opinion comes into play. While Darin feels that any links to your blog are better than none, I would prefer to go with those that are both relevant and ranked well with the search engines. What would such sites look like? Here’s a couple of sites I would use for backlinking to your Real Estate blog:
- Your Local Chamber of Commerce
- Your Local Online Newspaper
- CNN Real Estate Site
- Your own blog post that is ranked highly on Google (internal linking)
You can also check out Technorati for the Top 100 blog sites to gain some additional ideas of where you can add links.
2. Internal Linking
As noted above, linking from one blog post to another within your own blog is extremely attractive to the search engines. This is especially true when you link from a blog post that is already ranked well on Google to one that isn’t yet (and visa versa).
A great example of how to do this within your Real Estate blog is by creating a “Your City” Neighborhoods page and then create links to each of the individual neighborhood posts you write.
Here’s a quick video showing this in action and the search engine results gained by doing so:
3. Guest Blog
By writing a guest blog you will not only be gaining an inbound link to your blog, but building your credibility. Send an email requesting to write a guest blog post on one of the sites listed above (with a link within the blog itself to your site, or in the guest author info section) – I can guarantee that as long as it is not a self-promoting blog post, it’ll be welcomed with open arms.
4. Leave Comments
For every blog post that you read, leave a comment (with a link to your blog). Some sites will be “no follow” while others will be “do follow”. The difference?
“No follow” is considered an attribute to a hyperlink on a site. For a link to NOT be considered during a search engine’s crawl, there must be a “no follow” html reference in the code. Whereas, any other links that do not include this no follow reference are automatically considered “do follow” links.
In Lamen’s terms, unless you don’t want the search engines to consider particular links on your site, for whatever reason, your links will be “do follow” and that’s ok.
The search engines want to see a natural balance of “no follow” and “do follow” links to your website. There is, and has been for years, an argument about the ratios, but it has been confirmed that you should not be trying to get every link to your site as a “do follow”.
Quick Tip: Your site is “crawled” every day to decipher how it should be ranked by the search engines. Google finds broken or invalid links to your site that you may not know about but will want to address. We recommend that you regularly review the Crawl errors page of Google’s Webmaster Tools to check for 404 errors Googlebot may have found while crawling your site.
5. Answer Questions
Answer questions that potential clients have asked (and adding a link back to your blog) – Great examples of these would be on sites such as Trulia, Realtor.com and Zillow.
Submit testimonials – did you have a good experience with a home staging, plumber or inspector? Send them a testimonial of how well they did and I can almost guarantee they will add it to their site (with a link included to your blog, of course).
While giving suggestions on how to build incoming links to your site, we also have to relay the information on how NOT to gain links. The two main methods you want to steer clear of are:
- Link Farms, and
- Buying Links
Anything that calls itself a “farm” just reeks of manure and something to stay clear of! Here’s how About.com defines a link farm:
“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 created as networks of sites that contain numerous links to one another.”
Buying links is also a terrible, completely unnatural way of building your site and your credibility as a solid, professional online establishment. Remember the story back in February about how J.C. Penney did the dirty deed of buying thousands of links? ‘Nuff said.
The moral of the story is to be without any inbound links at all you will be at a serious disadvantage to your competitors. However, the more genuine links you can acquire, the better your search results will ultimately be.