The Unwritten Rules of Link Building
Updated: Aug 6, 2019
Those of you that are new to this and well, those of you that aren't, will know, or begin to realize that link building is the single most important factor a business could focus on from an SEO point of view. So much in-fact, that in some cases it actually accounts for up to 80% of your search engine rankings. Google have also confirmed this is the #1 ranking factor.
There was a time in the distant past where link building was almost irrelevant, or as it was known... "dead". New rules published back in 2003 changed the game completely and for anyone already involved in the game had to keep up with these changes or could be left forgotten. So, now that it is acclaimed to be the most important aspect of SEO, what do we take into consideration...?
Review the Link Value
The first thing anyone should be doing when link building, is checking the value of the chosen link. Why should i link this? is it good for authority? is it valuable to my content? or will it drive traffic to my page? If the answer to all of these questions is no, then move on.
I imagine every SEO expert uses this strategy as it would be unwise to cast it aside. Before you search endlessly through the night for places you can devise a backlink, take a peak at your competitors.
There are many tools and software out there, such as Link Assistant or Majestic SEO that can give you a rundown of your competitors backlinks. Fortunately and unfortunately this data shows you exactly what you need to do beat your competitors, which is great, but it also means someone else can do it to you. You'll need to start by making a note of any sources you have found and then analyse them individually to make sure everything is relevant to you. Software and tools like these can also tell you specifics for other ways competitors can be overtook in the SERP's. A website ranking on page 1 of Google may have an excellent backlink profile, but a weak social media presence, this is something you can capitalize on.
If you attempt to acquire too many links in a short period of time this can actually have the opposite affect you were originally looking for. This is known as "link velocity". However, this isn't always the case as it mostly applies to business's with new domains, ones that generally have no authority or are not yet redeemed "trustworthy" by google. But make no mistake, this can happen to anyone. So, as the heading says; pace yourself. Don't book a week off and try to cram everything in at once, spread it naturally over a few weeks, or even months if your not in any rush. There are many other aspects of SEO you can focus on in the meantime.
Never buy links
To most this given, but a lot of people get caught with those catchy adverts screaming at you that "you can be no.1 on google", well, its a lie. Google Penguin changed the way people could link build and buying links is unfortunately a long time gone. Google Penguin is essentially a spam filter and works in real time, meaning buying links now carries a risk, a risk that could potentially ruin your website in the SERP's; and nobody wants that. If you are going to buy links, make sure you stick to ones that are only used for authority purposes, such as business directories and paid listings.
Add to local listings
Local SEO has always been important, but local backlinks can be very powerful. Google aids these as it shows them exactly where your business is in the real world.
Sadly, google doesn't update local listings very often, so the best thing you can do, is to also create your own page or area on your website letting your visitors know exactly where you are. Google will index this page and in affect confirm where you are located with your local listings. A little confusing, i know but think of it as a boomerang effect.
One super easy way to get a backlink is to figure out who has mentioned you but not linked to your website. For example, if a blog published about the best pastries in town and your bakery was among those results, your name will have been mentioned at some point in the article. All you have to do is contact the owner of that blog and ask if they would mind adding a link to your website.
As mentioned before spamming out hundreds of links in a single weekend can do more damage than it can could, but contrary to that, you need to be consistent. Not doing anything for a couple weeks or months, then building a flurry of links all at once is just as bad as not doing anything at all. Doing something like this can get you penalized the same way as above. Keeping consistent and building your SEO on a regular basis will grow your authority at a steady but effective rate.
Don't just link your homepage
If every link you build points directly towards your homepage it wont appear very natural. Your backlinks need to go deep into your site, into your blog, your sub-pages, anywhere that may contain the specifics that are needed or most appealing to the page you are linking from. If you create your links on an array of pages it will almost mimic a natural existence.
Reclaim a broken link
Sometimes a page may become obsolete, this may be from a restructure of your website, or possibly a page has just been simply, deleted; either way, this page is now currently a 404. This means it basically a broken link at this point, so how do we fix it? We make sure that we 301 the deleted page to redirect the authority of what was once there to a different page.
When linking a page back to your site it is most common to use the same keyword or bunch of keywords as your anchor text, well, don't do this. It all comes back to what I've mentioned a few times, it will look unnatural, and encase you have grasped yet, Google doesn't like unnatural. Constantly using your branding keywords as anchor text will definitely lose you your position in the SERP's. Instead, try varying your text, use another keyword if you have to, it doesn't have to be completely off topic but at least try to use some alteration in each link.
Write high quality content
High quality content is perfect for many possibilities. Obviously good content will help your own site through on page techniques but it can also be used to create various backlinks. The most common form would be guest posting. Find a site that allows guests to sign up for a free account and post to their blog, most guest posting sites have a strict set of rules so make sure to follow them properly. Again, be careful because irrelevant posts and comments can lead to a penalty.
The content you write must have value and help others in the process without appearing spammy or overused.
Stay clear of "Black Hat"
Taking care of where your backlinks are placed is a must. Google has become very strict about placing your links in bad neighborhoods.
Avoid pursuing sites like adult websites, foreign languages with no relevance or simply low content sites. Having your backlink in any page that uses Black Hat SEO can seriously damage your rankings, and not to mention penalized. This in its most simple form is an easy concept to do, just consider where your linking to, make sure you've thoroughly browsed and are certain it is relevant, if it is, you have nothing to worry about.
A simple point, but a lot of "SEO Experts" fall for the pagerank displayed by Google - this is mostly inaccurate. When link building pay more attention to active aged sites and ignore the seemingly pointless metric. Sites with high value and active traffic will be the best to use ultimately pushing your site up the rankings.
Although having a variety of backlinks from different sources and content is good for your site, never lose sight and stray away from your brand. Keep your link building within your scope and avoid anything that isn't relevant to the work your doing.
Removing bad links
Keeping bad links around never does you any good. Fortunately, with all these tools lurking on the horizon, discovering bad links has never been easier.
So, what is a bad link? A link you have built in the past that is no longer effective. The page you were linked to could of shut down, been penalized, or banned. Another factor to look out for is that an anchor text could of also shown a red flag, it may have been over-optimized. It is a given that this will damage your ranking and needs to be resolved, after you have identified the bad link you should completely remove the domain as soon as you can.
Don't forget to ask, after all, there's nothing wrong with it? The response rate is tremendously low which is why this technique isn't also a first protocol. It stands around an average of 5%. There's a lot of resources to help you proceed with this a little better, ask the people you know, be strategic about it, and don't give up trying.
Hopefully this has aired the way for your link building process and helped you even the slightest. Although there a few good key points for you to keep in mind, we are only scratching the surface, there are endless "rules" to follow for your link building process, but above are some of the most valuable.
Have any you would like to add? be sure to leave a comment below!