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Linking is the key to any natural search-oriented campaign. While Pay Per Click increases the visibility of your website through strategic keyword building, natural search is a combination of on page and off page optimization. The main difference between the two, as to how you achieve a desired visibility status, is the importance of your site. A site of lesser importance, as determined by Google’s complex algorithm, can obtain the first position in searches utilizing a PPC campaign. While it is possible for the same site to appear within the top 3 for natural searches, it is less likely, and therefore natural search depends more on page rank for a site’s position. The similarity between the two is the keyword relevance to the search.

While it would be nice for your website to appear number one for every search, this is not practical. Via a PPC campaign, this mis-targeted traffic would cost you thousands, maybe more, as the majority of clicks would not take the user to a site relevant to that for which they searched. It would make no sense for a law firm website to show up in the top spot for a “heavy equipment training” search query. The purpose of search engines is to return relevant results, not just high ranking sites. The rank is factored in only to represent the importance and usability of the site itself, generally determined by relevant links. Here are four steps for building relevant links to your site, for free:

Social Media Optimization – this may not be the most efficient approach, as far as time is concerned, but the use of Social Media can prove very effective for the initial campaign. Simply, it puts your website on the map. The main quality to look for in a Social Media Site is the ability to add direct links with custom anchor text. This is possible through your profile, various groups, or occasionally, through message systems which allow users to contact each other, via their profile pages. It should be note, however, that many SM profile sites utilize no follow links, which will not benefit keyword relevance of links. Much like relevant pages on a website linking to each other, if only for ease-of-use, consider the network of pages linked to each other on a site such as MyBlogLog or BlogCatalog. It is important to exercise self control with such links, as irrelevant links may be read as spam or abuse of the site. Be sure to read the terms of use for such sites, as violation of such terms can result in the deletion of your account.

Forums – actively participating in forum discussions can increase the online visibility of your company greatly. Choosing a username on said forum that represents your company’s name or primary keyword will increase the relevance of posts, and posting within categories related to your business, its name or its purpose, will increase its importance. Much like social media sites, many forums will have no follow links, so use caution. The best way to utilize a forum is to set up your own. This gives you full control over comments, link properties, posts, and categories. Additionally, relevant traffic generally increases on forums as it allows others to participate in discussions and talk about their own interests in relation to your site.

Free Article and PR Sites – articles and press releases are a great way to build relevant links to your site, and its sub domains, as well as increasing your online availability through referred traffic. Additionally, you have full control over the surrounding text, and many free article sites allow you to include multiple links within the content. An article site might also feature a well-written, highly viewed article on the front page, and if nothing else, feature the submission in a category section related to your article or press release, which will have a URL containing very relevant text.

Blogging – much like article sites, setting up a blog is another good way to build links with more relevance and rank behind them. The only difference is, you can also optimize the blog itself, utilizing your social media profiles, and the articles/pr you’ve written. You may also include links to your blog from your site and forum posts. Cross linking relevant content on your blog and your site, as well as all other areas of the web you maintain, can be quite the task, but well worth the effort and time. Additionally, blogging allows for minimal effort in organizing, coding and optimizing content. Since posts are automatically sorted by date, category and tags, this is an easy way to quickly add content with little hassle; plus, adding images makes your blog more vivid, wont clutter the screen as much, and when ALT tags are properly used, will return links to your blog via image searches. Also, if said images are hosted on your site’s domain, this will add to the relevance of the blog to your site and the use of such images within your blog. You may be hosted on a Blog Site if you wish, but it is generally preferable to be self-hosted, as it implies that your site is more important.

These are only the basics of free link building, and as effective as these may be, there is only so much you can achieve with this method – it really depends on your niche. If you are fighting over less common, less desired, or more unique keywords, these tactics may be enough to put your site on the charts, even at the top spot in searches for those keywords. However, more competitive keywords require more variation, dedication, time, and resources.

When it comes down, most businesses don’t have the time or man-power within the company to embark on a campaign of such magnitude. Consider an experienced, well established, Internet Marketing Firm like Reciprocal Consulting to aid you in this endeavor.

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