I was recently talking with a business owner who was all about do-it-yourself-SEO. He’s gotten his website to rank on page one for several of his local keywords, but I’m suspicious that his competitors didn’t have a whole lot going on in the SEO department. So even his part-time SEO efforts as a hobby were more than effective enough to get him where he wanted to be.

One of the topics we discussed was links. He knew that links are important to SEO, but what he didn’t know was how to get links, nor did he realize that there are a lot of different kinds of links. I shared with him that a diverse backlink portfolio was essential to good rankings. I even used the analogy, that acquiring backlinks to your website is a little like getting all the different colors of pie while playing Trivial Pursuit.

That of course led to a question about all the different kinds of links. When I couldn’t find him a comprehensive list of all the kinds of backlinks that are out there, I decided to put one together.  Here’s my best shot at a list of different kinds of backlinks.

• Directories – Think yellow pages. A directory lists sites by category. Examples of well-known web directories are Yahoo! Directory and the Open Directory Project.

• Article Marketing – Businesses write short articles to showcase their expertise on a particular subject (including a backlink back to their site). The article is distributed to article sites where others can find the information.  Examples of well-known article marketing sites are E-Zine Articles and GO Articles.

• Guest Blogging – Writing a post on another person’s blog.

• Blog Comments – Commenting on a blog post. Examples on TinyHouseBlog

Forum Comments – Commenting on/participating in a forum.  Sample Forum: Tycoon Talk. Note: It can be difficult to get a backlink in a forum as they are often human moderated.

• Social Bookmarking – Sites for organizing a person’s favorite sites. These lists of favorites are often tagged and available publicly. Top social bookmarking sites are Delicious, Digg, and reddit.

• Web 2.0/Social Profiles – Web 2.0 is all about information sharing and social profile sites like Squidoo, Weebly and Quizilla allow users to create free websites/profiles. Similar to article marketing, the business owner writes content about their topic or business and includes a backlink.

• Press Release – Certainly not new to internet marketing, a press release is an announcement directed at the news media. The goal is that another site will pick up the press release (keeping the included backlink) and re-print on their site. Examples include PR Newswire and PR Web. Note: G’s Panda update has made press releases less valuable as duplicate content is looked down upon in SEO.

• RSS Feeds – Most commonly explained as Really Simple Syndication, an RSS feed allows businesses to share their content to users who subscribe to their feed.

• Link Swap – “I’ll put a link to your site on my site if you put a link to my site on your site.” (Basically worthless for SEO, IMO)

• Link Exchange – In a link exchange the HTML code causes the display of banner ads for the sites of others members of the exchange, on member web sites. Check it out on Wikipedia.

• Industry Associations/Partners – Getting a link from other businesses in your industry. Example: Members of the ARA – American Rental Association can qualify for a backlink at RentalHQ.

• Webmaster Outreach – Contacting webmasters via email or phone and simply asking them to place a link to your site on theirs. This is possibly the best link to acquire as it is often an authoritative and relevant site, but also the hardest as it isn’t easy to convince a webmaster to freely promote your site.

• Link Bait – Any content or feature on a website that exists for the sole purpose to encourage others to link back to the website.  Some types of link bait could include breaking news, rumors (iPhone 5), jokes, tips and tricks, saying something unpopular to get attention, widgets, tools, videos, pictures, info graphics and more.

There you have it. The most complete list of backlinks that I can come up with. Tell me if I’ve missed something!!!

So… if you’ve read any of my posts, you know that I encourage do-it-yourself- SEO  – to a point.  There are some very basic things that a person can do on his own that can have a great deal of impact on his website’s ranking. But as things start to get more competitive, SEO can take a lot of time, and nothing takes more time than link building. It’s arguably the least fun part of SEO. That’s when I encourage business owners to let professionals do their thing.

David McBee