One of the biggest problems with search engine optimization (SEO) is the fact that the search engines (particularly Google, with by far the most traffic), change their algorithms regularly. These changes affect the ranking of sites, and can often lead to a site losing position in the natural (or organic) search results. The main goal of SEO is to gain and maintain the highest ranking possible for your site, while at the same time avoiding penalties. Over time, the one thing that has not changed much is the value of having one-way, high quality links coming into your site — the more such links, the better for your traffic.

For a long time, webmasters spent hours developing reciprocal links with other Web sites. Unfortunately, these links do not really work any more. We have already mentioned methods of obtaining one-way links in the SEO Module. Another alternative that works right now is the three-way linking structure.

Three way linking, as the name implies, involves three Web sites. The structure is as follows. Site 1 links to Site 2, which in turn links to Site 3. Site 3 does not link back to the other two sites. In this way, the link structure appears to be a one-way link in Google’s view. If you decide to try this, it is best if you own two of the sites, then link out to another site from your Site 1, and get that site to link back to your Site 2. There are a number of very sophisticated online SEO experts who are doing this regularly, and are achieving great results.

It is especially important if you own several sites and want to do aggressive linking that your own sites do not cross-link. Google has access to domain ownership information, and as far as is known, they can and do use it as part of their algorithm. Therefore, be very careful about how you link multiple sites that you own.

One way to increase your page rank quickly is to get links from .gov or .edu Web sites. If you know any college students or government employees, ask them to link to your site. If you have very good content, offer it free to colleges or university professors. You can find possible link partners by typing the following into a Google search using your keywords + .gov or .edu (yourkeywords + .edu, for example).

Another way to build page rank for your site was discussed in the blog and forum posting section. You can build up your page rank by finding blog pages with high page ranks on which to post. The blogs must allow live links back to your site (preferably with the keyword on which you are trying to increase your rank in the link). They must also not use the “nofollow” tag on their links. If you do this regularly, you may get increased traffic from your links, as well (see the Blog and Forum Posting Module for more information).

One way to get almost instant page rank is to get your site in the directory. DMOZ was the original directory for Google, and still rates good page rank. The only problem with this is strategy is that if you submit your site, it can take up to a year for it to be listed. In addition, you may never be listed if you simply wait around for the editors to review your site.

If it is worth it to you, you can become an editor yourself for DMOZ, and more than likely get your site listed within a couple of months. For more information, check out the site and review the information about becoming an editor. DMOZ has geographic breakdowns in their listings under which it is easier to be listed. For example, if you have a business in Los Angeles, CA, you might want to be listed under that geographic heading.

It is also possible to get page rank for your site by getting listed in paid directories such as Yahoo, which charges $299 for a commercial listing. Non-commercial sites are listed for free in the Yahoo directory, but they are very picky about which sites they will list. Your site must be very professional and have excellent information and resources. There are also a number of other directories for which if may be worthwhile to pay (see list at the end of this section).

Another excellent way of getting links is to exchange them for products or services, etc. If relevant, this can be very effective and get you long-term, good quality links. If you own a product or can perform a service in exchange for a link from a site with good page rank, you are strongly advised to do so.

Buying links is not generally a good idea. Some time ago, Google penalized sites that were selling links (some were large online companies), and they discounted all of those purchased links in their ranking system. They even penalized some of the sites that were buying the links. If you buy a link from someone you know, and that site is not selling a great number of links, it may be safe. Otherwise, be very careful about this linking option.

One of the things that Google values in links (besides the fact that they are one-way) is the age of a link. If you have a high-quality link to your site that has been there for years, Google will consider it to be of much more value than a new link. Therefore, in your linking strategy, you want to make an effort to get links that will be long term, rather than many short-term ones.

Another thing that can downgrade links to your site is what Google sees as a “bad link neighborhood.” What this means is that there are many sites with zero page rank that are willing to link to you. They may be gambling sites, or selling some “scammy” products. These are links with which you do not want to be associated. Once you achieve high rank on some keywords, you will get numerous link requests from owners of other sites such as these. Do not exchange links with them; this will reflect poorly on your site and may get you penalized.

Yet another situation in which Google may downgrade your site is if you get too many links too quickly. This sometimes happens if your site is “discovered” by a bookmarking site or social news site. Actually, one of the best ways to get links to any of your sites is to get them listed by a social news site, but the downside is that Google may temporarily penalize your site. In the long run, however, it is worth it to get all those extra links. Therefore, this situation is not something that should be overly worrisome.

About the Author

Bill helps people build remarkable websites and writes about Search Engine Optimization Specialist. For more Goodies, you are invited to Subscribe to his RSS Feed and enjoy his practical tips on getting search engine traffic.