A Link Building Blueprint: The Foundation

Over the next several months, I plan to use my column here at Link Week to lay out a link building blueprint you can use as a guide in your linking efforts. We’ll start with foundational tactics and some of the side opportunities they offer, and keep going into the more detailed “advanced” techniques toward the end. If you follow the blueprint and implement what we cover, by the end of the series you should have a nice collection of links.

Before I start, let’s take a quick look at what happened last week with Google’s algorithm tweak, how it may affect your linking and why now more than ever it’s a good idea to use a wide variety of link building tactics.

Google Pushes Back

Recently there’s been a ”spate of stories“ on Google’s search quality by bloggers in  a wide variety of industries, including the search marketing community. Seems everyone is unhappy with the search results and they’re letting Google know.

While the spate of angry posts is by no means recent, Google finally appears to be listening and last week announced it was stepping up their spam efforts and focusing on:

even stronger action on content farms and sites that consist primarily of spammy or low-quality content“.

There’s also a related post on Google Program Engineer Matt Cutts’ personal blog as well as some personal comments he made on Hacker News; I found this statement particularly enlightening:

” Earlier this week Google launched an algorithmic change that will tend to rank scraper sites or sites with less original content lower. The net effect is that searchers are more likely to see the sites that wrote the original content”

Bold is mine to emphasize the phrases  “scraper sitesand “less than original content“.  If you’re depending on duplicate, respun or tweaked content on throwaway domains or blog networks as your primary link bait, it might be time to consider alternative tactics.

On that note, let’s start the Linking Building Bluerprint by outlining a couple of tactics you can use to help broaden your base of techniques and links!

Tactic One: Associations = Credible Sources, Credible Links

It’s a safe bet to say most scraper and/or low-quality sites don’t have a lot of credible link juice behind them, they may have some links but not from the type of sources who can “vouch” for the site algorithmically and as a business. Build your business and link credibility by joining a:

(Collectively referred to as Associations)

Many marketing experts feel tension reduction is the basis of motivation, eliminate this negative barrier by displaying brands, seals and marks visitors may be familiar with. Join the relevant associations in your industry (and local areas), display the badges each organization offers and be sure to link to your site from theirs.

If your business isn’t tied to a bricks and mortar operation, no worries — many local associations now accept an online business registered to do business in their City or State*.

Consider joining a virtual organization created for your industry, search by niche +  “virtual chamber of commerce” to find them.  (*my example is for US based operations only).

Send an announcement Tweet each time you join an Association, include a link to your listing in the membership directory. Ask your followers to retweet (RT) it.

Build a presence on Facebook and other relevant social media site shosting your demographic. Don’t depend solely on Facbook here, use a tool like GoToWeb2.0 to find topically/geographically relevant social media sites to join.

Build out your profiles (many social media sites allow links in your profile as well as your business pages) and be sure to list all the Associations you belong to.

While you’re on the various social media sites, look to see if the Associations you’re a member of  have a presence; friend/join if they do. The idea here is to associate your name with as many credible industry Associations on as many social media platforms as you can and build links while you’re doing it.

Tactic Two: DMOZ/Yahoo! Directory – Links, Leads & Love

When you say “directory submissions” most people think of submission services or those long lists of general directories out there. Not me, I submit to four general directories and then refocus my efforts on mining DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory for submission opportunities in niche directories, associations and the media.

Niche Directories

Both Yahoo! and DMOZ offer a “Directory” category under most of their major topics. For example, on DMOZ, if you’re in the boating industry you’d go to:

Recreation : Boating : Directories

Once you got there, you’d find 50 potential niche directories to add your link to. In the Yahoo Directory, if you’re looking for niche finance directories, you ‘d go through the 43 listed here and add your site. (The Yahoo! Directory UK is closed but the US version lists a fair number of directories from the UK).

Another way to find niche directories is by using Classified Ad sites. I know this sounds a little odd but many classifieds host a forum and/or directory as a way to make their sites “sticky” and keep visitors coming back. Classifieds are always listed under the Shopping category by type on DMOZ, using our boat example here’s what you’d find:

Shopping:  Classifieds : Watercraft

Of the 51 classified sites listed here, about a 1/3 of them host a directory and/or forum. The Yahoo! Directory has a slightly different set-up but in most cases, offers more listings to browse through.


Earlier, we talked about using membership into associations, the Chamber of Commerce,  business bureaus etc ( Associations) as credibility indicators and ways to build links for your business. Depending on your niche, it can be hard to find a list of groups operating in your area, Weddles Association Directory is a good place to start, but they only list national associations and not local organizations, clubs, chambers and special interest groups.

DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory are excellent resources for this although each uses a different term to display “Association” results. Using our boating example, here’s what we’d see if looking for organizations to join/submit links to within the boating community:

DMOZ – Recreation : Boating : Associations

Yahoo! - Business and Economy > Business to Business > Transportation > Maritime > Organizations

DMOZ excels in this particular segment, in addition to the 82 Associations listed for the boating community, they also offer 783 additional resources under sub-categories such as Sailing Clubs (510) and Sailing Associations (187).

Not all of these clubs and organizations require fees to join, many are free, welcome new members and allow links in your profile. If you do end up paying for a number of memberships, keep in mind membership into an association is an expense of doing business so check with your CPA about using it as a tax deduction.

One last thing about potential link benefits from Associations. Whether free or paid, when you join one, you become part of an elite group of people with similar interests. Ask about extending promotional offers to the membership and opt-in anyone who participates.

Down the road, you can ask for a link and use the fact you both belong to the same club as an ice-breaker and point of commonality. And finally…

Media Sources

Both DMOZ and Yahoo! list media sources by category, DMOZ lumps magazines and ezines together and calls them “News and Media” while Yahoo! breaks listings between Publications and Trade Magazines.

Most online media sources have a directory or resource center that accepts submissions, you just have to spend time visiting each site to find the location. The same goes for any on- and offline newspaper, most host forums and directories, which you can submit URL’s to.

Keep in mind, this segment is geared on using media sources to submit links to, not ways to work with journalists. We’ll cover that later :)

Don’t limit yourself by using only DMOZ and Yahoo!, check out the resources BOTW, Joe Ant and The Virtual Library have to offer.

Foundational  Links

Today, we focused on securing credible foundational links which help establish our business in a given niche and build trusted link popularity to our pages. Next time, we’ll cover utility linking, how to develop the best content and promote it so the links come to us. Until then, good linking!

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: Channel: SEO | How To: Links | Link Week Column


About The Author: of LinkSpiel.com and Alliance-Link is based in Fairfax Station Virginia and offers link marketing consultations and content partner services.

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  • http://www.kenpendergast.com Ken Pendergast

    Good article on structuring quality links. I just wrote an article that takes your strategy and gives tactics to identify market/niche directories.

  • http://www.alliance-link.com Debra Mastaler

    Thanks Ken.

  • http://Contempt.me Bofu2U

    Debra, you’re my hero.

  • http://www.alliance-link.com Debra Mastaler

    And you are mine Rob. ;)

  • http://www.ericward.com Eric Ward

    Nice work Debra. I’ve been providing complete Link Building Blueprints for clients for 10/12 years now, and I agree with you. In fact, Google Link Building Blueprint, and bingo, there it is. Sorry, I gotta brag while I can. But I also think it’s crucial to augment the blueprint with an explanation and execution examples so the client really starts to learn the rationale and impact of a properly executed blueprint. The blueprint is one thing, the implementation is another, and it’s vital to make sure you are putting the right people in place that can properly execute any given piece of the blueprint. Low hanging directories links can be pursued by a different person with different expertise and skill sets than can blogger outreach that requires a more sophisticated understanding of the nuance at play. I get pitched weekly from people seeking links on my site and they use such a bad approach that the blueprint can be ruined due to poor implementation. I ended up having to offer a tandem coaching approach to walk people through the process of executing the blueprint, and that really made a big difference. Especially as they see the links come in.

  • http://wefollow.com/paultyl Paul Tyler

    Some really great ideas here that I will looking into for sure. Never considered such great uses of DMOZ so thanks for this!!


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