Ah link building. Over the years this area of SEO has never been completely black and white, instead sitting firmly in a grey area for many agencies who have often debated on the best link building practices, alongside those that can hurt your organic rankings.
Now though, although still often debated, link building is becoming a little more clearer with the vast majority of SEO agencies following a similar path in order to achieve an increased level of online authority and, ultimately, organic success on Google.
So, we have taken a look at the link building do’s and don’ts to help ensure that you understand the process a little more. After all, link building is still one of the most vital aspects when it comes to SEO, so it is essential that you get it right.
A healthy mix of all of the below methods will help ensure that your link building activity is highly natural and leads your website to authority success in the near future.
Analyse the Value of the Link – Before acquiring a link, it is important that you take the time to discover the benefits that it might provide you and what you are gaining the link for. If its for authority and SEO purposes, discover the page that your link is likely to feature on and then analyse that URL within the various online tools available (Moz, Ahrefs and SEM Rush to name a few). If the page has a high online authority score (anything from 20+ is preferable) then it is worth gaining the link.
However, if you are simply gaining the link for referral visits, you can look into the potential number of visitors that the website receives and the potential value it may have for your own site.
Acquire Links on Company Mentions – One of the easiest ways to gain quality backlinks is to use the various online SEO tools to determine the websites that mention your company/website but do not provide a link back into it. You are then well within your rights to contact the webmaster of these sites to ask if they would be willing to add a link back into your site.
Contact Relevant Websites – Want to gain a backlink on a really great information site that is all about the industry that you work within? If so, simply contact them and state how much you like their site, and ask if they would be willing to provide a link back into your website.
A word of warning though, as this method does not produce a great response rate – anywhere from around 4%-7% – so make sure that you have a plan in place and only contact sites that are relevant.
At the end of the day, it never hurt to ask and you might strike lucky.
Sponsorships – Although this is never cheap, a great way of gaining fresh, quality backlinks into your website is to sponsor charities and events, no matter how big or small they might be. Not only are you likely to gain a decent quality backlink, but the extra promotion that you are likely to receive as a result is an added bonus.
Create Quality Content – It is time consuming and can take time to show you its rewards but there is nothing better than creating fresh, quality content that people will re-use on their own sites. Promote your original content across the various social media platforms and just watch as other webmasters pick it up. Link building at its best.
Now it’s time for the link building practices that you are best to avoid at present.
Site-Wide Links – These look spammy, as you will usually receives hundreds, if not thousands, of backlinks into your site. So, regardless of where your link features on the site, avoid site-wide links at all costs. They can have a hugely negative influence on your authority score.
Link Farms / Schemes / Private Blog Networks – Looking to gain a high number of links in one go? Well, this is a huge no-no and can result in your site being banned by Google completely. Not only are you gaining a high volume of backlinks all of a sudden, but the chances are that they will feature on low quality sites in obscure countries around the world. Avoid.
Don’t Request Specific Anchor Text – This was a very common practice a number of years ago but, these days, requesting specific anchor text on your backlinks is another way to be penalised. This is due to the spammy appearance of the links, especially as most sites that link back to your website are likely to use your company name or website URL as the anchor text (highly natural) as opposed to ‘SEO Agency’, for example.
So, if you have acquired a backlink on website, let the webmaster decide on the anchor text. After all, it’s bound to look more natural than what you would want to use.
Hidden Links – The practice of gaining links on the same coloured background as the font that appears within the page. Enough said. Do not do it. Ever.
Automated Tools – It might save you a lot of time sourcing the links for yourself, but using automated tools to create links on websites is not a good idea. The links gained will generally be low quality and, in truth, just look spammy.
So, that’s our list of link building do’s and don’ts. We are sure that everyone will have their own opinion on the best link building practices to use and avoid, especially as the world of SEO changes so quickly. However, that is the beauty of the industry, everyone has an opinion and we would not change that for the world.