Link building has long been one of the leading ranking factors and one of the most challenging parts of an SEO workflow. Simply explained, link building is the process of employing different techniques to get relevant quality sites link to you. It’s a proven marketing tactic that works both for increasing your online visibility and brand promotion.
There are three main types of link acquisition:
1. Natural links
These links are received from sites and pages that want to link to you for different reasons, for example, because of your great content or services.
2. Manual outreach links
The outreach link building technique implies emailing site owners for links, submitting sites to directories or purchasing links. The techniques may include asking a blogger to put a link to your worthy piece of content, using broken backlink strategy or offering affiliate programs, to name just a few.
3. Self-created links
Thousands of websites offer you the opportunity to earn links through guest posting, forum and blog comments, user profiles and so on. One thing you need to remember about this type of links is that they bring low value and even can be considered as spammy if your domain link profile is made up mainly of backlinks from a single forum/blog. Yet, some amount of links from social and forums does good for your SEO.
So how do you tell if a link is a quality one?
Almost all backlinks from a .edu and .gov domain zones are of extremely high quality, but let’s be honest, these are really hard to get. We’ll examine more common links.
1. Page Rank and Trust Rank. First off, there’s an easy way to determine the link’s quality on platforms like Serpstat. For each referring page, we display Serpstat Page Rank and Serpstat Trust Rank. The metrics are calculated on a scale from 0 to 100 — the higher, the better. Even a no-follow link from a trustworthy domain will carry more weight than several do-follow links from sites with low SPR or STR. Please note that the trust rank (STR) is more important than SPR because the trust score is calculated based on how authoritative domains/pages link to the researched resource. A tip for you: divide the page’s STR by SPR — the ratio of more than o,5 (0,9-1 desirable) tells you that it’s a quality resource. If the STR is greatly lesser than the SPR, we can say that the site/page has a large amount of low-quality backlinks and getting a link from such resource won’t boost our rankings.
2. Link relevance. Next thing to pay attention to is the page topic and the anchor text. If you offer car leasing and want to get a link from a cleaning services site with an anchor like ‘best cars for lease here’, that won’t impact your link juice in a good way. Make sure that the desired link sources address a topic similar to yours. A link from a relevant page may bring more value than a link from a news article on The New York Times.
3. Link from a well-ranking page. Another way to determine how highly a search engine values a given page is to analyze what keywords it ranks for and on what positions. If you are targeting the keyword ‘affordable wedding rings’, it’s worth selecting pages that rank high for that keyword and reaching out to the site owners in an attempt to receive a backlink. Employ our URL Analysis report if you already know what pages you want to get a backlink from, or use Keyword Research > Top Pages tool to learn about the most successful pages for your targeted keyword and reach out to their owners. Earning links from pages that already rank for this keyword would boost your SEO significantly, not to mention the brand awareness thing.
4. Link location. It may come as a surprise, but this matters. For example, sitewide links — those in footers or sidebars, don’t carry much weight. What you need is links inside the content.
5. Links that flow naturally with the content. A good link flows naturally with the surrounding content. If a text passage reads about how to repair your own car without experience and suddenly you input a link with the anchor ‘get an affordable and reliable carburetor here’, it’s perceived spammy by readers and search engines.
6. Nofollow links. Having a certain percentage of nofollow links is important for a domain’s link profile. Even though they don’t pass valuable link juice, they indicate natural links that reference relevant pages. Don’t neglect to get some amount of nofollow links with relevant anchors 😉
7. Links from long-reads are more valuable. It is widely known that long-form content performs better in search than short posts. Hence, links from such pages are worth more.
And now the bad ones — how do you recognize a bad link?
Nowadays Google will most often just ignore spammy and low-quality backlinks, yet as a website owner you shouldn’t rely on Google’s smart algorithms — it’s worth spending the time and effort on your link profile audit.
2. What other pages the referring page is linking to. If a referring page is linking to a large number of spammy pages, the search engine may consider this as link farming or other manipulative link building techniques.
3. Links received from unrelated pages or site. Links earned from unrelated pages are regarded as bad links. If you’re selling refrigerators, don’t try to get a link from a beauty blog. However, a link with a branded name as anchor text will be fine in this case.
4. Sitewide and footer links. Such links are not necessarily bad, it’s better to say that they don’t bring the expected value.
5. Links from article directories/general forums. Like in the case with the sitewide links, they are not likely to produce high value.
6. Backlinks with over-optimized anchor texts. Extremely high percentage of exact match anchor texts and anchor text stuffing can negatively impact your online visibility and rankings. Avoid using lots of commercial intent keywords in links.
7. Links from a low-quality page. If you visually look at the content and realize it didn’t take any time or effort to create it, avoid earning a link from this page.
8. Links from penalized sites. This one is obvious. Sites under penalty won’t provide good links.
What about the anchor text in a link?
Anchor text is the clickable part in a hyperlink. It goes in between the opening and closing tags, like this: <a href=”https://www.domain.com”> Anchor Text</a>.
Anchor text should be descriptive enough and provide search engines and users relevant information about the content of the link’s destination. The general recommendation here is to keep your anchor text profile diverse and relevant to the linked-to pages. Most often, you don’t have any control over the anchors in your backlinks, but if you have such opportunity, avoid using lots of ‘click here’, prefer using partially matching and long-tails rather than exact matches, use synonyms and add some portion of branded anchors and naked URLs.
Types of anchor text:
1.Exact match. The anchor is the exact keyword we want to rank our article for. For example, ‘SEO tools’ linking to a page about SEO tools.
2. Partial match. The anchor text contains the keyword we’re optimizing our page for. For example, ‘white hat SEO techniques’ linking to a page about white hat SEO.
3. Branded. A brand name used as anchor text. For example, ‘donuts’ linking to your Donuts Inc. company website.
4. Naked links. The destination URL used an anchor, ‘htts://www.donuts.com’.
5. Generic. The anchor text is a generic keyword which doesn’t include the target keyword, the likes of ‘click here, this site, follow this link’.
6. Images. The search engine will use the text contained in the image’s alt attribute as the anchor text.
7. LSI keywords. Anchor text that is a synonym or closely related to our target keyword. We have a dedicated Related Keywords tool for finding LSI keywords. An example of an LSI keyword for ‘divorce attorney’ from Related Keywords would be ‘divorce lawyers’.
To wrap up…
Earning quality backlinks is not the process of tricky manipulations, link purchasing or explicit spamming of bloggers with thousands of emails in the hope of getting the desired backlink. Create valuable content that your audience will benefit from and promote it in different ways, one of which is reaching to trustworthy and authoritative sites from your market space.
We’ll discuss hands-on link building techniques further on in the course.