There are basically two aspects to SEO, "on page" & "off page" optimization.
"On Page" SEO is easy because it's totally under your control. It's simply a case of making sure you have optimized your web pages correctly.
OK, so there is a bit more to it than that, like keyword research, keyword density & frequency, which html tags to use, making sure your site/pages are W3 Compliant, using relative/absolute internal linking structures to feed the pagerank where it's most effective, using titles and descriptions that encourage people to clíck through from the SERP's etc.
But essentially, once you know how to do all that, it's not difficult to get it right for all your pages/sites.
It's also less important in the long run than getting sufficient links to your site/pages from other sites.
Getting links to your site is fundamental to getting visitors, and without visitors all the time, effort and money invested in getting your site up and running, and looking "nice", is irrelevant.
No Visitors = No Point!
So links are essential to the health of your site, and indeed your business, but all links are not equal in value to your site.
Reciprocal links will help, but they are far less effective than one way backlinks, i.e. links from another site where you don't have to link back to them. These "One Way" backlinks will give your site a far greater boost in the search engine results and bring you more traffíc, providing of course that you have chosen good (relevant) keywords for your links.
There are many ways of getting these powerful one way backlinks, but most you will have no control over the anchor text used (i.e. keywords) in the link, which means their "power" is unfocused and therefore of less use to you in achieving the targeted keyword results you are looking for.
For example, submitting your site to website directories can be a very effective way of picking up some high quality one way links from high PR sites, but you will seldom be able to choose the keywords/anchor text used for the link, often ending up with the site name as the link.
This is not a waste of time, as the Pagerank passed to your site will, with the correct internal linking structure, be passed on to your sites internal pages, helping them to rank better for their targeted keywords.
So how can you get highly targeted one way links?
It's fairly common for webmasters to now buy or "rent" links to their sites through services like Text-Link-Ads.com, and these services will allow you to choose the anchor text, but they are far from cheap. A link from a PR 8 site can easily cost $150+ per month. In fact there is now a business model emerging based on building sites simply to sell these kind of links (see LazyGitMarketing.com).
Google has also publicly stated that they disapprove of this practice and are actively seeking to downgrade the value of such "paid links", although personally it seems like a valid form of advertising to me, but maybe I just don't have Google's wisdom in these matters. ;)
As always in business, there are entrepreneurs who have identified this need in the market and a whole new branch of linking services are popping up offering new solutions for one way backlinks.
I've been testing some of them out over the last few months and have found a couple that have had a significant positive effect on the sites I used them for.
This first solution is a monthly subscription that provides a network of high quality blog sites for you to post comments on, including a link to your site(s) using your chosen anchor text.
Note: As you make the link yourself, you can also link to internal pages on your site to improve their rankings as well, which you can't do with directory submissions.
It is a manual process, but is easy enough that it can be outsourced fairly cheaply.
The Pagerank of these blogs varies, but the links provided are very "natural" in appearance to the search engines, and as you can post unique relevant content on market related blogs, the links are highly relevant. You are also limited as to how many blogs you can post to each month, to ensure that the links grow naturally over time, rather than all in one go.
The internet marketing market is highly competitive, so it's hardly surprising that another service with a different twist has popped up from this market.
This is an automated "three way links" system, where you link to site A, which then links to site B, which then links back to you. Whilst this is arguably not as powerful as true "one way backlinks", it's still a significant step above one way "reciprocal" linking that is the more traditional method used by the majority of webmasters.
The process is also automated for you, making it very hands off. You can submit up to 20 sites with just one account and you can specify three different anchor texts to be used as the links for each site's, making sure you don't incur any penalties for over use of just one text link keyword or phrase.
It is also set up to gradually build up the links over time to make it all appear very natural to the search engines.
There is one final service that I've found to be very useful, although it is more ideal for people with multiple sites to promote.
The service gives you your own blog on an existing high PR authority site. The site has 833,039 backlinks listed in Yahoo and gets spidered several times a day by all of the major search engines. For example in June 2007 Googlebot visited it 14,470 times and Yahoo Slurp 52,436 times, so you can see why it's regarded as an "authority" site.
I have used this to link to brand new sites and had them indexed by Google within 24 hours, so it's a great way of getting a new site in to the SE's quickly, and the link weíght will obviously also help any site linked to.
As a side note, I've also found that my blog on this site can get fairly significant traffíc itself when I take the time to keyword optimize the posts, which is always a nice added benefit. I haven't traded reciprocal links for any of my sites in almost two years, and you can probably see why I don't need to. Using powerful new linking tools and services like these means I am able to take total control over the "off page" SEO linking strategies for my sites in the same way as I do for the "on page" SEO factors.
Wouldn't you like to do have the same level of control over your sites search engine rankings?
About The Author
Article by Matt Garrett © 2007 Mat4.com | 4 Minute Internet Marketing Videos Grab Your Free Article Site Building tool, Blog Commenting Software & 90 Page SEO Book Now! http://www.mat4.com/newsletter.html