Link-building, also known as back-linking, is an important component in any good SEO strategy. It can even be the most important, and is often the most time-consuming. If you're new to the game, you may wonder where to begin building links. Here are some of the things you should and shouldn't do to build links to your website.
You can classify SEO tactics in to two general categories: 'black-hat' tactics and 'white-hat' tactics. Black-hat tactics seek to 'game' search engines into ranking your site higher or your competitors' sites lower. White-hat tactics differ in that they seek to build legitimacy and relevancy in order to gain a higher search ranking, and they never seek to influence the rankings of competitors.
It's best not to engage in black-hat tactics because they tend to come back to haunt you. Either the search engine you've gamed catches on to what you're doing and de-lists your site, or your competitors catch on to what you're doing and do it back to you in spades. Sometimes the line between what is a black-hat tactic and what is a white-hat tactic are bit blurred and subjective. Just remember, karma can be a real bitch.
One of the most popular black-hat methods that, unfortunately, has been used successfully by many in the past, is paying someone to create mass backlinks. There are programs designed to create back-links indiscriminately, with the only goal being volume. Fortunately, it's getting harder to use them successfully because of something called a 'trust rank' that looks at the relevancy of a back-link. In fact, you can actually hurt your Google rank if it sees massive amounts of irrelevant links to your website. So you'll have paid to lower your search rank.
Where to Create Links
-Directories. There are free directories, like DMOZ (dmoz.org) and there are paid directories that charge a yearly fee. These include Yahoo Business Directory, Business.com, and Best of the Web. Some take time to get listed, especially the free directories. The sooner you request, the sooner you'll be listed.
-Press Release Sites. Again, there are paid sites, like PRWeb.com, and there are free sites. The distribution on paid sites is much better but can be expensive. Free sites include OpenPR, PRLog, SpeedyPR and many more. The link to your Web page happens in the resource box at the end of the press release. The drawback here is that you have to have some news on which to write a press release, and also you have to take the time to write it well. A poorly written release can hurt your company image.
-Free Article Sites. Here, again, the drawback is that you have to come up with a good topic for an article, take the time to write the article well, and have your article accepted by the site to which you submit it. Some of these websites are easier to get accepted in than others. Some free article publishing sites include ArticleDashboard, Ezine Articles, and ArticleCity.
-Vendors, Friends, Family, Partners. Here's a good ready-made set of cheerleaders for your website. Many of them have websites on which they can publish a link to your website. Don't be afraid to ask for it, and remember to reciprocate.
-Social Media. Your Facebook friends are another ready-made group of cheerleaders for your website. Create your fan page and include a link to your website. Ask your friends to 'Like' your fan page and tell their friends. Blog on your website and submit your posts to Digg, StumbleUpon, and other social bookmarking sites. You can also tweet your blog on Twitter. The goal there is to make it interesting enough that people will want to re-tweet (RT) it.
-Comments on Forums. Some forums let you include a link to your website in your signature line. Remember, don't spam. It's a good way to get kicked off a forum. Only make relevant, helpful comments. Here's a good, simple example of one such forum: Visit UltraSmoothJazz.com. In the top right corner of the page there's something called a ShoutBox. The shout box allow you to input a website URL. That will link your handle to your website. Make your comment, hit 'Shout', and you have a back-link. Unfortunately, this particular back-link will only last about a week. There are other forums where your back-link will be more or less permanent.
Remember, you're just starting out. Don't be overwhelmed by thinking you have to do all these things at once. Pick one or two to start with and build from there.