After Google's Penguin update, you may have seen dozens of articles panicking about the death of link building. To some extent, this is true: SEO is no longer what it once was. Thousands of unnatural links to your site will likely result in a penalty from Google. In a post-Penguin Internet, SEOs must now focus on natural link building. Building a natural SEO profileis more complicated, but the rewards are always worth the work. A site with a natural profile can maintain a stronger, lasting rank that is far less likely to be penalised by search engines.

Avoid Schemes Designed to Rank Your Site Quickly

Maintaining a natural SEO profile will not typically get your site ranked quickly. However, if your site is fairly new and somehow ranking on the first page within days or weeks of its launch, search engines will know something is up and will slap you with a penalty. When a site shoots up in rank after little to no activity, it suggests that you are using an unnatural method to build links to your site to manipulate your site's rank. Search engines have gotten better at spotting this kind of activity and penalising sites that use these methods by pushing them down in rank or even deindexing them completely. Getting your rank back is a difficult process and can set your site back by six months or more, if you can get your ranking back at all. Affiliate linking and similar linking schemes are a way to ensure that your site's rank dies an early death. Many sites with quality content have been completely sunk because of their SEO profiles. Building a natural SEO profile is a gradual method of getting your site ranked, but you will avoid penalties and keep a consistent spot on Google search results pages.

Quality Link Building

Building a natural link profile is now a complex process. Cautious SEOs are choosing to avoid it altogether for fear that the next Penguin update will mean another sharp drop in their site ranks and their traffic. However, any site that is at the top of a search engine results page attained its rank because of its link profile. Your SERP rank is a reflection of how important your site is. One way that search engines determine your rank is by analysing how many external sites link back to your site. Having incoming links is critical to your rank. Without a complete link profile, it is unlikely you will get the ranking you want. Any way that you can generate quality, unique content and attach it to your site will boost your rank and traffic. There are dozens of methods of doing this, and each one will provide your site with a natural link. [caption id="" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Various Link Building Methods[/caption]

Social Media Integration

Search engines pay special attention to content that is shared on social networks. All search engines are focused on bringing quality information to their users. When users share links on their personal pages, it indicates that they consider the information on these sites valuable. These sites receive an increase in rank because of this direct feedback from users.

Guest Blogging

Writing guest blog posts is a popular method of adding quality links to your link profile. Many sites with high PR are blogs. These sites are popular among users because it gives them a chance to exchange information about products and services with people who are like them. Publishing a guest post on sites like these naturally increases your traffic. Search engines often view high PR sites as authorities within their niches. Getting a natural link from an authority site gives your site a lasting boost in rank. Authority sites and other high PR sites are not as vulnerable to changes in search engine algorithms. One link to your site from an authority or high PR site is more valuable than many links from sites of lesser quality.

Content Submissions

Submitting content to a variety of sites typically results in a link back to your site. There are many types of content that can benefit your link profile, including testimonials about products and services, Web 2.0 content and Infographics. Submitting these types of content associates your site with consistently fresh content.

Web and Blog Directory Submissions

Directory listings are a great way to get natural inbound links for a newer sites. Specialised directories that are relevant to your niche are usually the best way to establish your site more firmly in your niche. While building your link profile has become more complicated, it is still a viable method of increasing your site's rank and traffic. The days of reciprocal linking schemes are gone, but the more natural methods of building links are more stable in the post-Penguin world. Using these natural methods of building your link profile means that you don't have to worry about your site being penalised or even deindexed as a result of a new algorithm.