Regardless of what some high-profile SEO bloggers might say regarding manual link-building and paid links, I still think they have their place. It is careless to inculcate a one-size fits all when it comes to link-building.
While manual link-building is becoming less and less relevant, it is still one of the the most cost-effective ways for small, location specific businesses to rank well in the search engines. And I think that is exactly the way it should always be.
It is ridiculous to force small-town shops, dentists, chiropractors and similar industries to spend months if not years publishing articles and social networking until they finally get some of their work redistributed and linked to. Great content alone rarely equals links; it’s years of online networking and reputation building or an expensive marketing campaign that drives “natural” links. Regardless of what some of some these bloggers might say. All these bloggers have to do is sneeze and they get linked to and retweeted. They have simply forgotten what life is like for the majority of small business owners. Especially ones who don’t have a need to do actual business over the Internet. But just because they might not do business over the Internet, that doesn’t mean they don’t have a need to be found there. Google is today’s Yellow pages.
Unlike high-profile SEO bloggers, most small-businesses don’t have thousands or even a just few online networking buddies, so getting articles and blog posts redistributed and linked to isn’t nearly as easy as 1 2 3.
My advice is this: If you’re a small business, or doing SEO for a very small-business, it is okay to find some local directories and manually request some links. Also, there are a few general, paid directories like Yahoo!, BOTW, and Business.com, which Google appears to treat as authorities. If you’re competition is minimal, having a well-optimized website and a handful of high-quality manual links could, and IMO should, earn you a spot on the first page of Google, Yahoo!, and Bing.
The more Google discriminates against manual links, the more expensive it will get for small businesses to get found on the Internet. And quite honestly, the more necessary they will be making paid links….one way or another, almost all links are paid links.
BTW: Business.com and BOTW.org are affiliate links. However, my valuation of their worthiness is in no way influenced by that.