I am certainly no SEO guru but I do know that there is plenty of turkey SEO advice out there. As a blogger its's very difficult to know what and whom to trust. There seems to be an infite number of directories, listings and link exchanges that all promise a nice SEO juice boost to your blog or site, some free and some not so free.
Having tested a couple of these over the last 12 months, I've come to the conclusion that they are not even worth the one minute of your time it takes to list yourself in a directory. What I have realized is that one backlink from a reputable source (often measured in PageRank) can be worth more than a thousand spam links.
Organic links are the best, and until you get these...
The best links back to your site will probably come naturally or organically as they say. Whenever you are mentioned on Mashable, the Telegraph or the HuffPost you get a very strong endorsement in the eyes of Google, Bing and the others. If a 'big' site decides to link to you, they assume it's because you have some great content and this bumps you up on the rankings.
Until you do get these links, there are a few places which you can get free high ranking backlinks that are reputable sources. It's a way of telling search engines that your site is up and running by pointing several online profiles to it. There is nothing black hat about this, it's a perfectly normal thing to do when you are using the interwebs to communicate with people.
Sites that give high ranking backlinks for free
These sites all allow you to create a profile, link this profile back to your site or blog and thus help your SEO rankings:
1. Crunchbase - Techcrunch online directory of companies and people.
2. Fast Company - Tom Peter's publication, everyone can have a public profile on this top media site.
3. Google places - business directory on maps, great for local businesses by the way.
4. Flickr - photo sharing site with a good Page Rank.
7. Twitter - get your backlink right, if you want to add another in the bio, be sure to include the http:// or it won't be clickable.
9. SlideShare - for sharing presentations and documents, ranks very well compared to 'normal' web pages.
10. Delicious - great social bookmarking site by Yahoo!
11. Econsultancy - research and training publication.
12. ZoomInfo - a huge company database that you can add your profile to.
13. Wikipedia - yes anyone can get their own entry (but beware that it can be changed by others!).
14. YouTube - video sharing community that you may have heard of.
15. Alltop - Guy Kawasaki's aggregation of blogs.
16. Technorati - Similar to Alltop, bit more old school.
17. Gravatar - where you get your mugshot seen across the web.
18. Wordpress.com - the commercial side of Wordpress, wouldn't recommend it for setting up a blog but good for a backlink.
19. Disqus - the commenting system that is omni-present on blogs.
Final action points
When you are done, you can check to see that the backlinks have registered by using Back Link Watch (free). Allow Google and the other search engines a few days to trawl through the links and update your rankings. Please don't expect any drastic overnight success, SEO is a slow process but it does pay off in the long run.
Can you think of more? Please let us know!