If you're a website that relies on traffic from Google, you'll want to obey by their link building guidelines in order not to get your website penalised.
Every website relies on Google for traffic, right? Even if it is not your number one source of traffic I'm sure you wouldn't want to lose it.
With webmasters trying to manipulate search results over the past menu years, Google comes down hard on link building. The Google Penguin update has been penalising numerous sites over the past for their link building activity.
Here is a list of link schemes that Google specifically outlawed as bad behaviour.
Buying Or Selling Links That Pass Pagerank
The exchange of money for links, exchanging goods or services for links, freebies for product reviews with a link are not to be done to stay within Google's guidelines. (Tip: To bypass the need for buying links you have to influence the right people)
Excessive Link Exchanges
I'll link to you if you link to me and 'partner' pages for the sake of building links are forbidden too.
Excessive Article Marketing Or Guest Posting
If you're going to do this, make sure you're not stuffing them with keyword-rich anchor text links. Same goes for press releases.
Article marketing and guest posting can be great for branding, awareness, building your following etc.
(For more on how to do outreach marketing without getting penalized, click here)
Using Automated Programs Or Services
Programs that generally build mass low-quality links, such as directories are a big risk for getting your site penalised and kicked out of Google.
Low-quality Directory Or Bookmark Sites
Links from directories that have been set up to solely to game the system face more risk than reward, which is basically 99.9% of directories.
Keyword targeted links within widgets are also vetoed by Google.
Widely Distributed Links In The Footers Or Templates Of Various Sites
Be careful when creating a WordPress template as Google does not like to see your link across numerous sites that are using your design.
Setting up profiles to spam forums and/or leave an anchor text link in your signature is a no no.
So What Does Google Allow Then, You Ask?
Google's exact words are:
"The best way to get other sites to create high-quality, relevant links to yours is to create unique, relevant content that can naturally gain popularity in the Internet community. Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the greater the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it."
The search engine simply wants you to create great content. Content they'd be proud to rank at the top of their search results when the topic or title is searched.
Naturally picking up links, especially if you're a business, is not as simple as creating a great piece. You often need to promote it, put it in the face of relevant users and webmasters and get as many important eyeballs onto your content as you can if you're to "naturally gain popularity in the Internet community". Simply, if no one can find your content there's no way they're going to link to it!
Social media profiles are a great way to build an audience that you can push your content in front of. An email database is another great way. Both of these can be built up naturally by producing great content time and time again that naturally encourages your readers to subscribe/follow.
You have a chance of picking up some links from your followers naturally, but to pick up the juicy links from big websites takes more effort than that when you're not an established national company or celebrity. So contacting relevant site owners to put your content in front of them should be on your to-do list next time you have produced some great content...