By Ben Robinson
Link building is perhaps the most important activity you can do for the SEO success of your Web site. Unfortunately, it can also be one of the most daunting tasks; it's often hard to even know where to begin. A great place to start is actually quite easy; all you need to do is set up social media profiles. In this post, I will outline a list of social media sites that can provide a great starting point for any link building campaign. I have focused on these sites particularly because they provide do-follow links, require very little effort (some social sites like hubpages.com require you to maintain a certain quality score for the links to be do-followed) and are completely under your control.
Do-Follow vs. No-Follow Links
Every link on a Web page is either a no-follow or do-follow link. A no-follow link means that the HTML code (which you can't see while looking at the page—only if you look a the source code) instructs search engines to ignore the link. What this means is the link's target page will get no benefit from the link; no "Google juice" will pass through the link. A do-follow link is essentially saying that the link is a vote for the target Web page and can influence the target page's PageRank. Because the vast majority of social media sites only provide no-follow links, it does you no good to spend time building any and all links you can; you need to build do-follow links.
To help you get started on your link building, below is a list of 8 social media sites that provide do-follow links:
ClaimID is a handy site where you can create groups of links about yourself. This is a very useful tool, and we recommend setting this up near the start of your link-building process; you should start by linking to your main Web site (or sites) and then create other groups of links to point to your social profiles as you make them. This is great for organization, but also creates an easy path to make sure all the social media profiles you build are indexed by the search engines quickly.
Examples: Ben Robinson (me) on ClaimID
YouTube is a surprise. It seems that a fairly recent update to profiles has made the Web site link do-follow. To take advantage of this, all you need to do is create a YouTube account and add your URL to the Web site field. The only downside is that there is no control over the anchor text; it will only show as your URL. If you have an older YouTube account already, it's probably a good idea to go into your profile and edit your link, and then resave the profile.
Technorati is a blog indexing and ranking service. It is easy to create a profile and add a link to your Web site (again, no choice of anchor text). As an additional bonus, you can claim any blogs you have to add another link, as well as your RSS feed.
The main idea behind MyBlogLog is to create mini social communities around blogs. You do not have to have a blog to create a basic profile and it is fairly easy to add a link to your Web site as well as a multitude of your other social media profiles. Like Technorati, if you do have a blog, you can add an RSS feed for additional automatic links.
Vox is a little different than the list above; Vox is a site that lets you create a blog and provides two opportunities for do-follow links. The first is in the profile: the area where you tell about yourself is not where you want to focus because any links in that area are no-follows. However, look around the profile editing interface until you find the links section. As you'd expect, this is a spot where you can link to up to five pages. And, the great thing about Vox's profile is it allows you to control the anchor text; make sure to use keywords related to your business. While you're in Vox, you might as well write your first post—we suggest you write up a great profile on your company. And unlike the section in the profile where you tell about yourself, all the links in the blog posts are do-follow links. So again, make sure to take advantage of the anchor text by populating them with keywords.
Most of us assume that a Zillow profile would only be for real estate agents, but they have actually been encouraging everyone to join and contribute. When you register for an account, at the bottom of the form you will be asked if you are a Pro. When you click the "Yes" button, a new section of questions will appear. One of the key questions in the Pro section is "Profession Category." In the pull down, you can select from a list of real estate professions as well as "Other Real Estate Services" and "Other." If you select "Other" the system will not allow you to set up a Pro account. The best option is "Other Real Estate Services," unless your business really is real estate specific. In your profile you are able to add your Web site, but you cannot control the anchor text: it will be "Web site." However, the "About" section is completely free form with a WYSIWYG editor. With the editor you are able to input links and even images, and the links are do-followed. Make sure to make your anchor text count by making it the keywords for your Web site.
As Gary Hall at Denver SEO|SEM points out, do not abuse this. Zillow expects you to contribute, and you should. That's why it's called social media. An easy place to participate is Zillow's Advice section. Many of the questions are very specific, but you will find an occasional post that is more general and you are likely able to contribute to in a real and positive way.
Last.fm lets you set up personal streaming radio stations based on the artists you like and will recommend other music, concerts and videos based on what you like to listen to. Setting up a profile on Last.fm gets you a simple do-follow link; you have no control over the anchor text as they simply use the URL as the anchor text. As with most of these profiles, you don't have to use the service in order to get the link—you just need to set up the profile.
Propeller is AOL's link sharing site, similar to Reddit and Digg, and it gives you a lot of power in building links. When you're setting up your profile, you can add HTML to the bio section and the links are do-follow. Not only can you control the anchor text in the bio, but Propeller also provides a link section to the profile where you can add additional links and control the anchor text.
This is a site to share Internet content with friends and keep track of pages you like. Registering is very simple and it gives you a spot to put a blog URL, where you can put your site URL; you won't be able to control the anchor text. As the profile instructions say, don't put HTML into the "About Me" section, so don't waste time experimenting.
Examples: Chicago Style SEO on coRank
Get Started Building Links
With the eight sites above, you will have a great start to your link building campaign. Hopefully once you get started, it will become a habit that will help bring traffic to your site.