1. Vary the keywords in your link 'anchor' text
Unless you provide only one product or service the chances are you will want to rank for many key phrases. One way to help achieve this objective is to change the link text you want all new sites to use periodically. Vary the anchor text slightly each time and by doing so you can cover more of your targeted key phrases. This approach can help your site rank for many keywords rather than just one or two.
If you do only provide one product or service on your web site it is still important to vary anchor text. If you sell 'blue widgets' then you could also use link text like 'cheap blue widgets' or 'blue widget store'. This means your links take on a more natural feel and are much less likely to be penalised or filtered out by search engines for being 'fake links'.
2. Set up your link information differently - create a link in context
Typically people set up their link information in a very similar way, however you could offer your link information with the hyperlink inside the description instead of at the beginning.
Imagine this is a description about your web site on a partner's link page. Instead of a typical hyperlink followed by a description you could write a sentence describing your web site and then place "your descriptive hyperlink" inside it.
One reason for doing this is that it reads more naturally and search engines may value the link higher as it reads more like a narrative. Many webmasters will be happy to accept this style even if some do not. To cover yourself offer the link in context as a second option along with your regular link information, that way if some sites can't support the layout you still get your link.
3. Vary where your links point
Try to vary where link partners point to on your site. It's fine to have the majority of links pointing into your home page, however it can be beneficial to have some links pointing to other key pages on your web site as well. Taking this approach balances out your linking and can help raise the profile of more pages on your web site.
4. How to find potential link partners from your competitors
If a web site links to your competitors it may also link to yours, and in order to find these potential link partners you can use search engines. Not so long ago Google was useful for getting a lot of back link information about a site. Recently Google's back link data is a lot less forthcoming and it now tends to show only a tiny percentage of the sites that are linking combined with a lot of internal link data. Whether the few web sites Google shows us are the ones it finds important or whether they are in fact red herrings we cannot say for certain. I would assume the latter.
Currently Yahoo is a better portal to check for backlinks. To generate a list of linking web sites on Yahoo simply go to http://www.yahoo.com and type the following into the Yahoo search bar.
This will deliver up to date link information as read by Yahoo. The only downside with the information is that one site may appear many times if it is giving multiple links.
5. Alternate your description text
This is often overlooked, but there is no real advantage to be had if the description text supporting your inbound links is always identical. To avoid the possibility of a description ever being seen as 'duplicate content' alternate it when you can. If you combine it with varied anchor text [as in tip 1] you're heading in the right direction.
6. Link to good related content from your web site
It seems like an obvious thing to say, but with so many people caught up in link exchanging you sometimes wonder if we're losing site of the basics. If you have something useful to say on your site and can back it up with a useful link to another web site then do so. Not every link has to be reciprocated. This resourceful linking will allow your visitors to read around the subject. Linking to informative related content is useful for visitors and search engines quite like it too.
7. Seek out directory links
Links from good web directories can be some of the best links you can get for your web site. Aaron Wall has a 'directory of directories' at http://www.directoryarchives.com where you will find a great selection of search engine friendly directories. Some of the directories are free to get listed in whilst others may charge a fee.
Gareth Davies is a web design consultant based in London, UK. For information on web design services please visit http://www.garethsketty.com or if you have any questions about this article or its contents please email Gareth at garethsketty at yahoo.co.uk