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Off Site SEO- Building Backlinks

Off Site SEO - Building Backlinks

The critical part of a SEO campaign is…

It’s been said that a well-planned back link strategy is a critical part of a successful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) campaign….and it’s true.  Back links help the search engines understand better what your site is about and to more accurately assess its relevance for various search words and phrases.  Many site owners, and even some SEOs believe that with back links it’s all about quantity – in fact, it’s all about quality.  You are much better of to get 10 high-quality links than you are getting 1,000 from lower-quality sites.  Before I tell you what might be a good addition to your strategy, I’ll share a few methods that do not qualify, and may do you more harm than good.  Keep in mind as you read this – you create pages for people, not for robots.

How NOT to Build QUALITY Backlinks

  1. Link farms
    Do not, under any circumstances exchange links with one of these sites.  While being on one shouldn’t hurt you (nor will it help), linking to one may get you banned by Google.
  2. Random blog comments
    Spending hours a day leaving blog comments like “great post, enjoyed it.” with a link to your site is a waste of your time.  Most blogs use the “no follow” code within comments so even if you post your comment on a site with a page rank of 10, you’ll get no love from Google.
  3. Paying an SEO “expert” to submit your site to the “top search engines and directories”
    This will often just get you listed on a link farm, or on a site that is so unrelated no one will bother to click on it.  And by the way – the good engines will let anyone submit for free.

How TO build QUALITY back links

Three words; research research and more research.   Take some of the time you used to spend leaving generic blog comments and locate 15-20 high quality and topically relevant web sites.  Become familiar with the content, develop a relationship with the publisher.  If the publisher feels your site is link-worthy, you’ll get one.  One trick that sometimes works is write a review, or summary of an article on one of these sites – making sure to name the author and line to the post.  Believe it or not, ego stroking is a valid SEO tool and sometimes results in a direct return link.  Direct links (opposed to comment links) are the best.  Both because readers will notice (and hopefully follow) and because Google will notice (and probably follow).  This trick works both ways – if your content is good enough, eventually someone will want to stroke YOUR ego.

Blog comments can be a useful link building tool, but it takes some work and results may be slow.  When you read an article you find particularly interesting or informative, leave a comment.  Not a lame, “great post” comment, but a well thought out and detailed comment.  Highlight what you did (or did not) like about the article – think “book report”.  This will do two things for you; first you let the author know you REALLY read the article – this might get you a mention in a follow-up post.  Second, other readers will read your comment and hopefully be compelled to come look at your site…and hopefully subscribe.

Doing, or even hosting guest posts is a great way to attract links and new readers to your site.  If you can locate a related and willing author, their readers will more than likely stop by your site and look things over and may come back again if they like what they find.  Plus, the intro and/or byline should contain a link back your site.

Clearly, none of the tactics is terrible difficult.  But, like must other SEO tactics, they just take time to complete properly, and time to bring about results.  But, I never said SEO would be fast, right?

If you have a question about any of this or anything SEO for your site, send us your questions big or small by clicking the “submit tip” button at the top right corner of the page. We also welcome topic suggestions and tips.

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Written By

Jack Leblond is a SEO/SEM professional working for a large corporation full time in Austin, TX. He is not a Realtor, he is our in-house SEO expert. Jack is the Director of Internet Strategy and Operations for TG ( In addition to managing the team that develops and maintains the company's multiple Web sites, he focuses on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), e-marketing and Social Media. Jack's background ranges from Submarine Sonar Technician/Instructor for the United States Navy, technical writer, pioneer in internet/intranet creation for McGraw-Hill and Times Mirror Higher Education, former Adjunct Professor for two Universities teaching web-related courses, has served as a city council member and co-founded Net-Smart, a web design and hosting company, where he managed networks and oversaw the development of hundreds of Web sites. As a free-lance SEO consultant, Jack performs SEO Site Audits for small/medium businesses that want their web sites to perform better in the search engine listings.



  1. Steve Mattison

    November 16, 2008 at 5:37 pm

    Does this information mean that you waste your money paying for site optimization by a company that only does that and guarantees you palcement on first page of 2 major search engines for 2 of 3 keywords?

  2. Kevin Tomlinson

    November 16, 2008 at 5:42 pm

    Who says Twitter doesn’t work?! I found this post on Twitter—and it’s a great one.

    What are your thoughts on asking for Blog Roll links? I find it a bit boorish and have NEVER done it.


  3. Missy Caulk

    November 16, 2008 at 5:43 pm

    Great post, Jack. Just kiddin’.

    Do you feel it is better to have links to higher PR sites than otherswith less?

    Does it hurt to have lesser PR sites as outgoing links but you like what they write?

  4. Ann Cummings

    November 16, 2008 at 6:04 pm

    Found this on twitter! This post reiterates what I’ve read and been told for some time now. Homework to do now…. 😉

  5. Drew Meyers

    November 16, 2008 at 8:21 pm

    Asking for blogroll links is an iffy one in my mind. Of course, I see why people do it…but being on the receiving end of those requests stinks. There’s no way I’d give a blogroll link unless I either know the blogger well already or I really do read the blog regularly.

  6. Jack Leblond

    November 16, 2008 at 9:17 pm

    Steve – Your question is a mine-field. There are many very good companies out there doing legitimate SEO. Unfortunately that are just as many relying on the smoke and mirrors of confusing terms and jargon to trick you into spending your hard-earned money just to have your home listing sited end up on a page full of yarn crafters…but maybe it’ll be page one. Just be very careful what you are paying for.

    Kevin – Asking for blog roll links is definitely a no-no.

    Missy – linking out only hurts you with the search engines if you link to a link farm or other spammy site. Your readers though, may be a little less forgiving if you link them to a site that’s totally unrelated to wait the read on yours – no matter how much YOU like it.

    All – Be careful with your blog rolls. If they are a legitimate list of people/sites you read, you are fine and have no worries. However, if you are part of a link ring where multiple sites list each other in their blog rolls – you are actually a link farm, and will eventually be banned by Google.

  7. teresa boardman

    November 17, 2008 at 6:54 am

    My favorite was to get back links is to write the highest quality content. Other bloggers link to it.

  8. Steve Simon

    November 17, 2008 at 7:01 am

    Having a 1,000 links from questionable sites or bad places to you will not help or hurt you… Google’s algo. and 200+ SERP factors would not penalize you for bad in-coming(if they did it would be a free for all of evil competitors placing links to your site not theirs on web garbage dumps all over.

    Having 1,000 links with the no follow atribute may improve your real traffic (from humans seeing and clicking on you), but the robots like SLURP (yahoo’s bot)will not follow a no follow.

    Exchange schemes are harder for Gooogle to filter out, but according to “Matt Cutt’s” Blog, (if you don’t know who he is you don’t know Sh*%t about SEO), they are trying to adapt the algo. so that link exchange schemes become more obvious.
    There are about 50 other factors you should look into other than the above mentioned (links, in-coming and out-bound):
    here are a few:
    Transitional correct XHTML on your pages;
    Broken links;
    failure to use 302 and 301 redirects properly from old domains;
    My favorite, specific URL canniconization?? (search for my site with the www or without and you will be redirected to the www. version; further this selection was made by me and communicated to Google as mt preferance. Sites that actually show using both www. and without the www preface are actually using up more bandwith, and taking up robot time. Google hates wasted bandwith:)
    I have digested over 5,000 posts on Google’Official Webmaster Help Site. It is frequented by Google employees that post and give generic direction.
    Most of the SEO Wizards are liars that may have a “Black Hat” technique that gioves you a rise in ranking for a while, but do you really think they will be able to out do Google for long?
    Traffic is and can be a uniques thing from SERP. You can get traffic on your own from a lot of things that may not help you with search engine result position.
    Page rank is another aspect of Google’s 200+ factors.
    If you have a specific and I can help you I will be happy to answer.
    By the way Jack’s post was and is accurate, it is just that it is much more complicated than presented…
    “If the answer to a complex problem is simple, it is usually incomplete…”

  9. Steve Simon

    November 17, 2008 at 7:04 am

    If you do wish to learn more about SEO, don’t pay for a “Fairy Tale” go here:
    Then read a few thousand posts:)

  10. Jack Leblond

    November 17, 2008 at 8:19 am

    Steve – Thanks for taking the time to read my article and leave a thoughtful response. Clearly you have spent a great deal of time reading about SEO, as your comments are mostly accurate.

    Teresa – If you haven’t noticed, I am a big believer in building pages for people, not for the search engines. Quality content is very important part of that.

  11. Missy Caulk

    November 17, 2008 at 8:53 am

    I wasnt’t talking about link farms but friends that blog in other parts of the country that their PR is not very high.

    I would never do a link farm.

  12. Kay Baker Wilmington NC Real Estate

    November 19, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    Hey, I found this blog on Twitter! Thanks for the helpful information on backlinks. It is such a controversial subject. I have gotten conflicting information from several webmasters.

  13. Bill Gassett

    June 9, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Blogging has created one of the best opportunities to get good quality links. If you are a decent writer others will link to your work. Most certainly agree it is much better to get some good quality links on pages with decent PR.

  14. Dubai Property

    June 20, 2009 at 9:07 am

    i like your ways of linking back i think research is a key of your success again thanx for this informative article

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