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Linkbuilding is one of the more difficult aspects of SEO and something that works for one site might fail dismally for others.
Google doesn't make things easy for business owners as the techniques that work for older sites are different to the techniques that work for new sites.
Last week, 11 of the world's leading link development experts produced this article which is being touted as one of the key articles of 2008.
The first takeaway from the discussion was that quality niche directories will always be very good places to get links from.
I agree totally with this and sometimes take things a step further by helping clients set up a directory or forum about their niche (if there isn't one already).
Being a well known personality and discussing subjects related to your business on forums and blogs leads to a lot of positive feelings about your brand and will gain you links in the long term.
Some of the link builders were also concerned about the thousands of human editors that Google employs as quality controllers for the search rankings.
As a rule you should make sure that your site and your backlink profile passes a human inspection otherwise a single editor has the power to take your rankings away.
A key issue for me is to not force Google to make a decision, if you are ranking in 20th place Google is unlikely to take much action for a minor breach of the guidelines.
However if you start to rank at the top of a competitive query you need to be whiter than white if you want to stay at the top in the long term.
Probably my favourite quote of the article was: "Look natural! Even if you aren’t". Link profiles, especially for new sites, are very hard to manufacture.
If you start of by submitting to 500 general directories your link profile looks spammy from the outset.
Alternatively if you get listed in places like Business.com, Work.com and the Yahoo Directory as well as getting a mention in a few major newspapers your link profile is going to pass a hand inspection.
If you can't get these sorts of links it's far more effective to alter your site to be more link friendly than to try to fix the problem by buying lots of lower quality links.
Marketing a low quality product is a lot harder than marketing a high quality product.
Finally the experts were asked what they would do if they only had 90 days to work on a project.
The answer was that they would build a quality blog in those 90 days that would then attract links naturally for years to come. Probably the best bit of advice in the article.