Link Building 101
Posted by Nikki Wardle on Apr 23, 2015 9:00:00 AM
A lot has changed since I got into link building a few years ago – link exchange is dead, ad banners are no longer all about gaining referral traffic, and buying links is more dangerous than ever before. Because of the changes mentioned and a whole load of others, the bulk of link builders don’t like to give away their secrets to sourcing links, even though it’s all pretty much the same at most agencies.
Most of the advice I will be giving throughout this blog is available from a large number of sources but I felt it would be great to bring everything together under one easy guide.
Craft your link building strategy
Ahead of building any links to a website, its important to ask yourself a few questions:
- What kind of links do you need?
- Do you need nofollow and branded links?
- Do you have a wide enough range of anchor text and landing pages?
In recent times Google has started placing value on link placement, in-content links passing the most value and footer links passing the least, although a good link profile should make efficient use of every link type as going out and sourcing only in-content links would be a very giant sign of an unnatural link profile.
Nofollow & Dofollow
A lot of people go out and source dofollow links, but in doing this they do more destruction to their link profile. Every web site should have a good equilibrium of nofollow links. There have been cases where web sites with a very small number of nofollow links have not ranked as highly as others who keep a strong equilibrium.
I believe Domain Authority and Domain Trust make up a fairly large chunk of the ranking algorithm. Even though there are many factors in gauging these characteristics, a strong sign of both is having a large number of brand based anchor text directing to your web site. Some sites make the mistake of just building branded terms to the homepage, when in fact there is more value in structuring links using these terms to landing pages throughout your web site.
When operating a link building campaign, it is imperative to work on a broad range of landing pages, using an assortment of anchor text for each. Working on a small keyword / landing page set can disturb the balance of a web site and can have a very harmful blow long term.
Since the Google May Day update this year, relevancy seems to play a larger role in the ranking factors. Even though the days of keyword stuffing are over, there is still a need to mention your keywords within your content, header tags, URI structure and title tags. Content may not be king but it is one of the keys to a thriving link building campaign.
Once you have your link building strategy complete, the next step is to discover suitable web sites to find links from. There are a lot of techniques that can be used for this task, some of which rely on tools and others that use manual search queries.
Link Building Tools
If you plan to use link building tools then odds are you will be looking at links going to competitors’ web sites. This is one of the best ways to start a link building campaign and can lead to incredible results, some of the best tools for this job are:
- Open Site Explorer
- Competitive Link Research Tool
- Yahoo Site Explorer + SEO Quake Plugin
- Yahoo Site Explorer
- How to use SEO Quake
Manual Search Queries
Its thought that it’s not the links your competitors have that will give you the edge but the links the competitors do not have. To find these you will need to find link opportunities using manual search queries – the best way to do this is by using advanced search operators.
Advanced search operators are not as complex as they sound but if used correctly they can give a very good set of search results.
One search string I would advise when looking for suitable blogs for most niches is:
[search term] -site:Wikipedia.org -site:blogspot.com -site:telegraph.co.uk -site:wordpress.com -site:about.com -site:nationalgeographic.com -site:guardian.co.uk -”directory” -”add link” -”advertising”
Depending on your niche, other domains can also be uncovered from the results.
Directory submission is the most boring and repetitive job, but sadly it is an important task in any link building campaign. These links make up the numbers when it comes to branded links. Submit to the right directories and they will improve your overall domain authority.
Blog and Forum Commenting
The best way to use this kind of link building is by using Google’s blog search to find the most recent articles published within your niche then make a genuine comment using the Name field for branded anchor text. This type of link building is best for increasing the number of nofollow links to your website.
Link to Us Pages
Link to us pages are not only great for increasing the number of user generated links but great for masking other link building activities. I would suggest having a link to us page displaying all the branded terms used within your campaign and have different types of links for each (Banner Ad, Contextual Ad, Text Link).
Though link building is a tough task in itself, if you plan your strategy correctly, build the right links, the job will become easier over time and you will start to see what works and what does not.
Written by Nikki Wardle
Nikki has a degree in Marketing from Boise State University and has been an Inbound Marketing Specialist at Tribute Media since 2014.