In 2020, link building still plays a strong role as a ranking factor for search engines. Search engines see backlinks as a “vote” for the authenticity and authority of your website. However, certain links are better than others. Nofollow links recently changed; instead of not passing page rank to a site, Google will treat nofollow links as a hint. From an SEO perspective, links take a considerable amount of time and effort to build. Let’s take a look at some tips to help you acquire high quality links that help you conserve your SEO budget.
Getting High Quality Links To Your Website
1. The Role of Anchor Text
Anchor text highlighting a link to your website plays a considerable role in the quality of that link. Google reads that anchor text and if the target page of that link is optimized for the anchor text keyword, that target page has a higher chance of ranking better. Many SEOs spend a considerable amount of time acquiring backlinks with anchor text such as “click here,” “website,” or the URL of the target website itself.
Use keyword-rich anchor text whenever possible when trying to acquire links for your website. Make sure that the target page is also optimized for the keyword used in the anchor text. This will create a stronger signal for search engines.
2. Link Bait and Quora
Many SEOs spend a considerable amount of time answering questions on Quora to acquire links. While Quora is a great platform, any link from Quora is nofollow by nature. Instead of answering as many questions on Quora as possible to acquire links, spend time answering specific questions that relate to your niché. An infographic, a blog article, or other piece of high-quality content linked from a very detailed Quora answer will likely indirectly result in your website being used as a citation by other websites, resulting in links to your website. Quora backlinks are an excellent way to promote your existing content and new content as you publish it.
3. Understand That Most Links Are Earned Or Editorially Placed
Many SEOs spend a tremendous amount of time on blog comments and directories. This is often a waste of time because many blog comments will sit for some time before a moderator will approve them. Sometimes, a moderator will never approve them. While there are many good directory websites out there, these links often take some time to get approved or require a reciprocal link.
The most effective backlinks are ones that are placed in the actual text of an article. According to Neil Patel, links that are placed in the text of a blog article drive the most power in organic ranking. Spend time building these types of links, as footer links, comment links, and sidebar links don’t provide that strong of a ranking signal.
4. Work With Your Partners to Acquire Links
Are you a B2B niché business? Maybe your ecommerce store has products that some of your customers love! Work with your partners to create links that target your website. These are often some of the lowest hanging fruits when it comes to link building. If you are a wholesaler of a particular product, ask your manufacturer to provide a link to you. Logos with an alt attribute linking to a page on your website are just as good as a text link and work well without being spammy.
5. Infographics Drive Traffic
Infographics are a great way to conserve your link building budget. When authoring guest blogs, you often have to create a new article each and every time you respond to an outreach effort. With an infographic, you can frequently reuse it in your link building campaigns. Many webmasters will often use an infographic in their own content, resulting in a high-quality link to your website. You can also place your infographics on Pinterest and Quora for other people to find without you having to reach out to them.
6. Use Google’s New Link Attributes When Appropriate
Use rel=”sponsored” to help search engines identify links created for compensation agreements and advertisements. Use rel=”ugc” whenever users can create content on your website, such as in a blog comment or a forum. Continue to use rel=”nofollow” when you want to link to another website, but do not want to pass page rank.
Google has not identified how and when they will treat the nofollow attribute as a hint to search engines. It is likely that if a site is “hot,” meaning it gets a lot of traffic, it may use that nofollow link as a signal for higher rankings.
7. Good Backlinks Hinge on Good Content
Reddit has one simple rule: “Remember the human.” This is a good rule to follow when link building, too. Whenever you craft a link on another website, make sure that the content you provide links back to related content on your website. If you are trying to get a link on a website, pay attention to the usability, content, and usefulness of the website in question. If you are building on a directory, for example, and the directory website is hard to use, that probably isn’t a very good website to get a link. Another great example is whether or not the linking website in question has an SSL. Your guest blog or infographic should be created for the human and not search engines. Treat content on a third-party website as you would your own and create your content with that factor in mind.
8. Vet Your Link Building Service
Link building services can be very good. However, some link building services can result in a penalty on your website. Many link building services have spent a lot of time building PBNs, which are private blog networks. They often use article spinners to create voluminous amounts of automated content on these blog networks. When hiring a link building service, ask them for an example of previous work. If they can’t provide good examples, the link building service in question is probably not a good fit for you.
9. Keep Your Link Building In House If At All Possible
Work on link building on your own, if possible. Your internal team knows your audience and the content that they love. Also, an internal link builder can also be an ambassador for your brand. Many link building services will use an automated tool to reach out to webmasters and use an automated email. Human-to-human outreach from someone on your staff will result in a better outreach effort.
The characteristics of a good link builder include hard work, a disdain for automation, and an understanding of your brand.
10. Understand Past Google Updates, Especially Panda
While Google updates from the early 2010s may seem outdated, you should read up on these and understand them. To date, Panda remains the most significant Google update that impacts link building as a signal in SEO. Also, take some time to understand Google’s patent that involves backlinks. If you understand how Google indexes the web, you will understand how links work.
11. Monitor Your Website’s Pages for Link Reclamation
Over time, links to a website can degrade if pages on the website are taken down or changed. It is highly recommended that you watch your website for 404 errors. Let’s say that a piece of content on your website is taken down. If you create a 301 redirect to a different, unrelated page, you will likely create a soft 404 error. Avoid creating redirects to non-equivalent pages because this will result in a loss of ranking power for your backlinks. If you create a redirect from a page to your homepage or a product to a category, you are likely not to benefit from this redirect.
Link reclamation is also another good tactic to use in your link building campaigns. Look for broken links on websites and then outreach to the webmaster if your content is a good fit and your link will add value to their website.
12. Get Links From Real Websites
There are two types of websites--those that people use and those that exist solely for the sake of linking to websites. Make sure that the websites linking to you are ones that humans use. People do use directories! Just make sure that the directory you are linking from has ranking keywords and has a good deal of traffic.
13. Avoid Off-Topic Links
Off-topic links are links that don’t relate to your URL. Let’s say that your website sells a particular product or service. If you get a link from a website that is not related to yours, you won’t benefit from that link.
14. Avoid Reciprocal Links
Reciprocal links are simple, if a website links to you and you link to them. This type of linking will not result in an outright search engine penalty, but too many of them will. This type of link is also a lower quality link.
15. Dealing With Toxic Links
Google will occasionally alert webmasters about bad links with a manual action message in your Google Search Console. You should routinely audit your links with a tool like SEMrush or Moz to determine links that could be toxic. We recommend doing a disavow of all of your unnatural links if you have a manual penalty or are aware of toxic links pointing to your website.
Not every backlink marked as spam by link monitoring software will hurt your website. By the nature of the Internet, your website will get picked up in feeds and on other websites. If the overall quality of your link profile is good, a few spam links will not directly impact your search engine rankings.
Use the Disavow Links Tool with caution. Google no longer shows this tool in the regular Search Console that was refreshed in recent years. To disavow links, you will have to visit this URL that is in Google’s legacy version of Search Console. When you disavow links, you are essentially telling Google to treat these links as nofollow.
When looking for potentially harmful links, there are a few characteristics that you should try to identify. For example, if a website has a lot of keywords on pages just “stuffed” there and they link to websites, this can be a sign of a potentially harmful link. Any websites with “unnatural” language or poor grammar can also be indicative of a spam link.
16. Invest in Content To Support Your Link Profile
We recommend limiting your website’s content to good pages. Too many pages result in content overlap, which can result in keyword cannibalization. When you have a limited number of content pages on your website with high quality content, these pages will rank better on Google.
17. How Much Content Does My Website Need For Backlinks?
You only need enough content on your website to support your business. “Page bloating” is when your website has tons of pages that don’t necessarily serve your website visitors. Tons of pages and no links will result in a website that doesn’t rank. Create blog articles and content pages that cover all aspects of your business and then aggressively link to these.
18. Do Posts on Social Media Accounts Count as Backlinks?
Websites like Facebook and Twitter let you post links to your content. However, they do not count as backlinks because they do not show up in the link report in Search Console. Websites like Pinterest and reddit do show up in your link report in your Search Console. However, these are not high quality links as you need a lot of them to impact your search engine ranking.
Posts on Facebook and Twitter can indirectly create links to your website. Whenever you create a blog or infographic, share it on social media. If people like your content, they may create a link to your website from theirs.
19. Does SEM Software Keep Track of All My Links?
While SEMrush, Moz, Ahrefs, and Majestic do track links, there is no way that they can keep track of all of them. These websites regularly crawl the Internet to discover new links. However, your link report in Google Search Console is the most accurate place to keep track of all of your links.
20. What Do I Do If I Have a New Website and No Backlinks?
The first thing you should do on your new website is create content! Make sure that you have done keyword research and create pages/categories that your business offers. Make sure that your URL slugs have your keyword in them and make sure to optimize your title tags, meta descriptions and on-page copy. Once you have done this, you can start building high quality links to your website.
21. How Many Links Do I Need For My Website?
You shouldn’t set out to build a large number of links on your website. You should focus on quality and manual outreach rather than automation. Many SEO tools like SEMrush have automated link building tools. Avoid these as many automation programs tend to land in spam boxes.
22. What is Domain Authority and How High Should My DA Be To Rank?
Many link building and SEO software tools have a metric which measure the strength of a website. Domain Authority and Page Authority replaced “Page Rank” when Google did away with the Chrome Extension that showed you Page Rank. Domain Authority and Page Authority are numbers that predict the ability of a website or page to rank in Google. Websites that have a DA of 15 tend to start ranking in Google. Generally your website will rank in Google for a lot of different keywords if your DA is in the 20 to 30 range. However, DA is not the only factor for rankings. The quality of the link is the most important factor in determining whether or not a page will rank.
Your Domain Authority will not jump by five points in a single day of link building. Many SEOs will link build for a year and only see their DA increase by a point or two. Domain Authority is a long-term metric and will not change overnight.
23. How Long Does It Take Google To Find a Link?
It depends. Sometimes, Google will find a link to your website within a few days of it being built. This tends to happen on “hot” websites that have a large amount of traffic. On “cooler” websites, it can take a month or more for Google to find a link to your website.
24. How Much Time/Effort/Money Should I Spend On Link Building?
There is no solid answer for this question. Many link building services charge $1,500 per month or more. You should definitely spend some time and effort on link building. Generally, your link building efforts should be built into your long-term search engine marketing plan.
25. Is Link Building Dead?
Link building, like SEO, is “always changing.” However, link building is not dead. According to Moz links to your domain and links to pages on your domain are the two most important factors when it comes to ranking your website.
26. Learn How To Build Backlinks Without Creating New Content
Consider link building strategies that don't require any new content creation. We have a post on how to build links without writing any new web content.
Some Advice on Buying Links
For years, people have purchased links in an attempt to influence their SEO. Some webmasters have set up extensive “private blog networks,” or PBNs, in an attempt to influence their rankings. Some webmasters have reported that, ultimately, these PBNs hurt their site after time. There are several different services out there that are available for webmasters, including websites like FatJoe. Let’s talk a little bit about how some of these work and whether or not you should use them.
- FatJoe.com: FatJoe offers several different types of backlinks, including guest blog placement. Here is a compelling review about the efficacy of FatJoe. We used FatJoe.com for an herbal supplement company. The results were very promising and helped move some of our rankings up from page 4 to the top 3 of Google.
- Rhino Rank: We also tried Rhino Rank. While the pricing was good, the link we received was placed on a website that hadn’t been updated since 2015 and did not have an SSL certificate. Some people, however, have gotten good results with Rhino Rank.
- Link Building HQ: This is also a good service. We purchased a guest blog placement through them. They offer an introductory offer of $5 for a DA30+ link, so we tried it. We liked the guest blog, and the fact that it was put on a website with an SSL certificate.
To date, the best results we got were with FatJoe. Overall, it had a big impact on our rankings. But if you are going to use one of these services, this is what we recommend:
- Try to choose anchor text that is the same keyword that the target page is optimized for.
- Conserve these paid link services for your interior pages so it’s easier for your website to rank.
- Try to purchase these types of links sparingly. Only buy a handful each quarter and see if they help your website.
Using Social Media to Share Great Content On Your Website
Facebook and Twitter posts do not count as links if you share something from your website. Pinterest, Reddit, and Quora generate no-follow links. However, if you have a great piece of content to share with the world, we highly recommend it. If someone cites your article in one of their posts, it might result in a powerful follow link back to your website. Here is an example of how you could use a website like Quora:
- When you write a blog post, you should log into Quora and find questions that your blog post could answer.
- Provide a short, but useful, expert answer to the question being asked.
- Add a link to your website article.
This will not only generate a no-follow link, but if someone uses your answer to research an article for their website, you will get a link back to your website in the future.
A Few Words on Link Building in 2020
The most important advice that any SEO can follow is to remember the rule of the Internet: “Remember the human.” Links that are of substantial quality will tend to help you perform better on search engines. Create good content on your website. Make sure that your content pages are secure and accessible to both human beings and search engines. This will help you achieve and sustain good link placement.