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To really do long-term link-building successfully, you will have to increase your knowledge. Onw way to do this is to spend time on forums such as this one.
You should try to get links by a variety of methods. Also, one-way links to your site are generally better than exchanges. I always start by submitting to a few free direcrtories, because for me that has proven to be the easiest and most reliable method of getting some quick initial links.
Thanks for this post. Might I ask if you submit to niche directories at first, or just general free ones?
Thanks for your question
I submit to niche directories when I can find them, but in most of my niches there aren't enough of them for what I need. So mostly I have to submit to free general directories in the most suitable category I can find.
Here's something else I should have mentioned- There are a lot of older "dead" direectories that have been abandoned by their owners, so it's a waste of time to submit to them. So I mostly submit to newly-announced directories. Their owners are enthusiastic about their new site and will often approve your submission in less than a day. You can find these new directories on certain forums and special lists that are updated frequently (We're not allowed to post links here, but you should be able to find some of these by searches on terms like "new directories", "directory forum", etc.)
I should add that many people doubt the value of free directory listings and will tell you that they are a waste of time. But my experience over several years indicates otherwise. It's true that one listing alone isn't worth much, but over a period of time you can eventually get dozens or even hundreds of them, and the total value can add up.
To do it properly, you should use a form filler, and you should vary the anchor text and descriptions sometimes.
Finally, as I said before, for the best chance of success, you need to combine directory submissions with other link-building methods.
If you find any link to your competitors that are broken send an email to the site owner letting them know about the broken link and tell them how your site provides information that will help their readers.
There are a few applications out there that help you organize your links and provide ways to clean up backlink lists to get rid of duplicates. You can also do this in excel if you know how. There are also a few places that will give you a more complete list of backlinks past the 1000 limit of yahoo.