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link buildingIn a previous post, we discuss some of the technical reasons why links are important for SEO. Here, we'll be discussing a few ways for you to build new links to your site.

Google is constantly changing the way they determine rankings. They make hundreds of changes to their algorithms every year and consider new factors like social signals (Facebook Likes, +1's), site usage metrics, business reviews and many, many more. Despite all these changes, quality content and quality links are still at the heart of SEO and will be for a long time to come.

Not all links are beneficial. The difference between good links and bad links isn't black and white, but for now, let's keep things as simple as possible: good links come from relevant sites; bad links come from irrelevant sites.

For example, let's say you own a pet store and a blog about dog food links to your site. That's a highly relevant link which will absolutely benefit your site. On the other hand, let's say you purchased a link from spammylinkfarm.com for $15/month. That's an irrelevant link and although you might see some initial benefit, it will likely hurt your site in the long run.

Now to the good stuff! Let's talk about ways to build high-quality, relevant links to your site:

Submit your company to the local Chamber of Commerce - Most Chambers of Commerce websites contain a directory of all the businesses in the local area with links to the websites of those businesses.

Become a member of the Better Business Bureau - Similar to the Chamber of Commerce, the BBB keeps a directory of all members with links to their sites.

Get listed in Partner directories - Are you a registered Microsoft Partner? Make sure you're listed on Microsoft Pinpoint. Most corporate IT companies have similar directories. Here are a few to get you started:

General business directories - Check out our Business Directory Submission Service (currently available for US clients only). For international clients, find out which directory is most popular in your country. In some cases, this might be Yellowpages or Hotfrog. For Aussie clients, take a look at True Local and for those in the UK, check out Yell and Thomson Local.

Specialized directories - There are many directories for specific niches. Find yours and get listed! Are you a TalkSwitch reseller? There's a directory for that! Are you the best Linux consultant in North America? There's a directory for that! Does your pet store have the largest selection of catnip in your area? There's a directory for that!

Office Parks/Buildings - Does your office park or office building have a directory of tenants? Get listed!

Guest blogging - Find a blog based on your business niche. Contact the blog owner and offer to write a post with your expert knowledge in exchange for a link to your site. This item deserves more than just a bullet point. It's likely the most difficult and time consuming item on this list but it also has the potential for extremely valuable links. There is a lot that goes into finding the right blog, building a relationship with the owner and finally, getting that crucial link. SEOmoz recently posted a great article on the nuances of guest blogging if you're interested in a delving a little deeper.

Leverage your existing blog posts - You have free reign over the blog posts provided by us. Feel free to post articles on another site - just make sure they link back to you!

Reach out to your network - I'm not talking about social networks here. I'm talking about real people that you have a real relationship with - friends, family members, clients, business partners, vendors, etc. If your new site has just gone live, this is a great opportunity to let all of your contacts know about it. Ask for a quick mention of your new site in their blog (with a link, of course!).

Local news outlets – If your business is based in Los Angeles, you’re probably not going to make into the LA Times, but if you are in West LA, you stand a good chance of getting a link from the Argonaut. Find the local news source in your community. Is your company planning a big community service event? Invite a reporter! Did you just release an awesome new website?! Let them know how your business is growing. Get that link!

Look at your competitors - Run a report on your competitor's site in Open Site Explorer (a tool that will show you all inbound links to their site). Take a look at the links they have. Are there any included that you could get as well? If so, go get 'em!

A couple things to note: when submitting your company information to directories, make sure the business name, address and phone number exactly match the information in the footer of your website. Search engines see this matching information and use it as a way of determining trust for your site in local searches.

Be cautious when submitting your site to directories. There are thousands of shady directories out there that could potentially be harmful to your SEO. Before submitting your info, ask yourself, "Does this directory really provide benefit to visitors?" If not, pass on that directory. Another major indicator is pages covered in spammy ads. This usually means the webmaster isn't trying to provide benefit; they're just hoping for ad revenue.

The above list is just a few of the possible ways to build links. Get creative! Be active in the web community and your local community, build relationships with others working in your field and the links will start to build up naturally.

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