Cultivating Web Links: Good, Bad, and Awful Methods


By cultivating quality links, you can greatly improve your website’s page ranking and increase traffic to your site. There are millions of posts on the internet about how to do this, and it can be hard to separate the legitimate suggestions from the bad ones and the outright awful ones. Here are some simple steps you can take to get good links, along with warnings about the bad and awful ideas.

Good Ways to Get Links

Create Your Own Links

When writing copy on your site, link to other relevant pages inside and outside of your site. Make sure your links are very specific. Instead of writing, “Find out about fishing supplies by clicking here,” write, “Find out about fishing supplies.”

Get Listed in Reputable Directories

dmoz logoRequest that your website be added to the dmoz Open Directory. It is used by search engines, including Google, Yahoo! and Bing. Read the submission instructions closely so your listing is accepted. If your website is for a business, you should also get it listed in local web directories such as Google Maps/Places, Yahoo! Local, and Bing Local.

Share Your Existence

Search for relevant websites that aren’t competition, often blogs. Let them know you exist. But use decorum, don’t spam (see Awful Ways to Get Links).

sample graph from Google Analytics on new versus returning visitorsAnalyze Referring Sites

Use web analytics (such as Google Analytics) to find out which websites are sending you quality links. Form a relationship with them to help encourage more links. You can do that by thanking them, linking back to them, and keeping in touch.

Earn Them

You can earn links by providing relevant information and articles that others will want to read and link to. Provide education, insight, and market research. Have conversations. Invest and contribute in online communities to help them grow. When you make yourself visible it allows you to prove your credibility, which will lead to more people referencing you in the future, while if you want to keep an order in your business, and having documents displaying the proof of income is essential for workers and more.

Simple Link Sharing

universal sharing iconFor less tech-savvy humans, easy links for sharing by email, on Google+, Facebook, Twitter, and others can be very helpful. You can even get an all-in-one button from ShareThis.

Bad Ways to Get Links


Don’t email other website owners begging them to add your link. Don’t guilt trip them by adding their link to your website and expecting them to add your link in return. Not only is it rude and uncouth, but it is often irrelevant reciprocal linking that is picked up by the search engines and ignored.

Writing Link-Bait Posts

These are posts with attention grabbing headlines made to get people to click, such as top ten lists, attack articles, “fake” stories, attention-getters, and fear mongering. They may increase your page ranking in the short term, but will build lots of bad will.

Spam ad - List Your Website on over 500,000 pages!Buying Them

If you are buying links to improve your page ranking don’t do it. It’s ignored and a waste of money. Please note that this is different than purchasing a link in order to advertise to a specific market.

Awful Ways to Get Links

Illustration of sleazy car salesman type character holding a sign that says "check out my website"

Unsavory, Irrelevant Reciprocity

Getting others with small websites to link back and forth with you just for the sake of link creation is bad. Reciprocating links with spam sites and other disreputable sites is even worse.

Spamming Message Boards and Comments

Contributing to message boards and community websites is an important way to increase your visibility and credibility. But you must have decorum. Don’t post pointless or spammy messages just to create links to your site. Other humans will write you off as a worthless spammer.

More Tips

The Official Google Webmaster Blog has lots of good information about linking and other web tips. To find out more about page ranking and SEO, read my article “Honest SEO: How to Legitimately Increase your Page Rankings.”

Stephanie Brinley

Stephanie Brinley is a Branding Specialist, leveraging her experience in design and marketing.