In one of Matt Cutts' interviews, he mentioned that Link building is not illegal but things like hacking and posting irrelevant links are. Websites through which we are trying to gain back links must be of very higher quality. Link building still works if we do it in a proper way by following quality guidelines.
The following elements need to be considered for link building strategy.
Relevant Directories submissions
Though there are only a small number of business directories having good quality & high relevance, it is still a good place to start and can help to achieve multiple positions on the search engines for industry related keywords. The following factors must be considered before submissions:
- Crawl Rate – How frequently does Google crawl these website?
- Back links – Do back links exist for these web directories on Google?
- Indexation – Are pages of those websites indexed on Google?
- Content Quality – Spam or adult content should not be on these sites
- Relevant themes – Links must be placed under relevant themes. For example, we must opt "insurance" under "finance" category. Linking sites must be related to our website theme.
- IP Check – IPs of website must be unique and free of class C subnets.
- Local & Global directories – Submissions on local & global directories(.com) to target local audience of the website
- Page rank – After checking of above factors, we check Page Rank to consider if everything is good to go but this can be avoided.
Google prefers those websites which are great in terms of content and frequently update their website with latest news or articles. Here are a few factors that need to be consider for articles directories including above also:
- Social sharing options on article directories – These websites must provide social sharing options to users for sharing any article they like. It creates awareness and increases your presence on the internet.
- Not much keywords tagging – More focus on tagging some long phrases or sentences or "read more" kind of captions. Quality of linking to third party websites is more focused now.
- Content Quality – Content must be great as whatever users post on these websites must not be copied from other websites. Copywriting rules apply here.
- And all above factors mention for directory submissions.
Placing links on social networking sites increases brand awareness and presence of website on the internet.
- Presentation Sharing – Created presentation and linked website's internal pages with it. Presentation should be shared on top slide sharing websites.
- Google Local Places – Creation of Google local maps account along with Google plus help to engage users.
- Social Book markings – Sharing links of websites on social bookmarking websites with unique content on each site.
- Classifieds – Started publishing ads with website links on Classifieds website. It helps in getting quality back links and support in increasing Google maps visibility. It also increases results on Google when we search with "brand name".
- Profile creation – profile creations on different website by adding website information (address, phone etc), company's services and links. It includes reviews websites also. Increase your awareness and engage users for getting best reviews from them.
- Guest Blogging – Targeting highly relevant websites to post your own post will not only increase the traffic but also rankings.
- Related Forums – Participation in forums and becoming an active participator win trust of Google and increases presence on Internet.
SEOs focus too much on link building and think they will rank on top of search engines by doing so. That is not the complete story but but there are some misconceptions about link building and Matt Cutts outlines here.
So, there are a number of activities which you might follow to gain popularity but it requires lot of participations no matter what medium you choose. You do not need to start at once with all of them. You can opt for any two or three areas on which you can focus more. The bigger picture is putting high quality stuff there & building good reputation.