Semalt Link Building Tactics
Over the last few years, none of the SEO processes has received as much attention and analysis as link building. There were many twists and turns in local search results, and there were lots of ups and downs in the phrase positions. Mobilegeddon caused quite a stir among SEO agencies that did not implement mobile-friendly (RWD) sites for their clients, and the guidelines for Google Quality Raters helped the agencies refine and fine-tune their SEO strategies.
Link building is an area where many SEO Professionals disagree on how to effectively link. Moreover, changes in the algorithm force a constant correction of these methods.
When it comes to positioning, the lines are the driving force behind effective action. The right number and type of links can help your website take the top positions in the search results, and real earnings follow. In turn, creating bad quality links can lead to a penalty from Google, which means the disappearance or a significant decrease in organic results.
If you have not yet audited your link profile, it will not be an exaggeration to say that this is the last call. Google is not idle, and control over the sources of its own links is already standard. So what has changed over the past few years, what is important now and what to focus on so that the results of our activities bring tangible benefits?
First, let's take a look at the most important link-building events both in 2022 and in the previous years.
Update of the Penguin algorithm
From version 1.0, it will soon be four years (since April 2012), and now we have version 4.0. Version after version, Penguin consistently analyzes and (at least in theory) removes from SERPs pages whose link profile raises suspicions as to their naturalness. In 2012, Google defined the so-called Link quality, which characterizes its value and importance. Google is consistently updating its algorithm to make it better and better at detecting the quality of links and their "natural" sources.
Avoiding Link Building
In early 2015, John Mueller of Google said during a hangout that he would avoid link building as an SEO strategy. This led to quite a stir among the industry community. Nevertheless, the more experienced specialists did not bother, knowing that links are still an important element of the strategy of building the website's position in the search engine. Mueller was probably referring to the old spamming practices (that is, mass-gaining many low-quality links) that may do more harm than good.
The latest link-building strategies rely on publishing high-quality content on both your own and external publishers. Every action in the SEO world triggers a reaction, so there is an abuse in this matter of using an excessive amount of unnatural links in the content. As a consequence, content publishers do not always want to publish such content and as a result, lose both sides. To cheer up the hearts, more and more publishers stick to a strict rule, setting the maximum number of links (usually one and not an exact match, but a brand phrase or URL), which probably has a positive effect on the overall link quality.
Higher content standards
The standards set by Google regarding the quality of content are being gradually raised (which goes hand in hand with the expectations of recipients), and this is related to the saturation of content on the web. Internet users only share a part of the content published on the web, which means that only the best content can get through and thus get natural links posted by the information-sharing community.
Why link building is still important
You may be wondering why SEO professionals go through so much trouble with link-building campaigns when it's getting harder and harder to get tangible benefits. The answer is clear. This is necessary in order to rank significantly in Google's search results and stay ahead of the competition doing the same. Whether you like it or not, a link is still one of the key elements of website positioning.
Finding the right sources
The first step is to build a database of addresses from which you can get a valuable link. Do not collect "junk" sources in the database, as using them can cause a lot of trouble when the Penguin algorithm catches them. What to suggest when choosing the right sources? Choose those that are:
- valuable - it is undoubtedly a subjective term, but the point is to use common sense when choosing. Since the Page Rank has ceased to be updated and thus lost its informational value, we measure the quality of the domain by taking into account many different factors. What's the traffic on the site? Does the website have a lot of authority? What's its story? What are its Risk, Risk Value, and Power Trust according to Link Detox and Citation Flow, Trust Flow, and Backlinks according to Majestic SEO? The better the coefficients the domain has, the greater the value of the obtained link, but thus the more difficult it is to get such a link. You can use Semalt's Dedicated SEO Dashboard to check all these.
- accurate - the sources should be as close as possible to the industry in which you operate. In other words, you need links from thematic pages, i.e. related to the same or at least a similar topic as the page you are linking to (i.e. do not put links on cooking pages if you run a construction company).
Use of relevant content
It is in the content that you embed links that you then publish on your pages. So make sure they are thematic and of high quality. Good content should be:
- original (unique),
- attracting the reader's attention,
- interesting, with a comprehensive topic,
- containing reliable information,
- correctly written in terms of style and spelling,
- visually well presented,
- properly formatted.
Anchor text and context
Stuffing exact matches into anchor text is not art. But how to do this to reduce the chances of an algorithmic filter? Make sure the link is put in context. Does it look natural in a given place? Put yourself in the position of the user who reads the text. Is the link in the right place in the text, i.e. does it become a valuable element for the recipient at the right point?
Diversification of the strategy
Another extremely important element of the link-building strategy is the diversification of link sources. It is not only about the link profile, but also about the variety of sources in terms of scripts. The link profile should be as extensive as possible. This makes it look more natural than if you were to link from only one source (e.g., directories or comments). The case also applies to the scripts themselves, on which many websites are based - from the most popular CMSs such as WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal.
White Hat SEO in practice
Is there a reason for White Hat SEO? Does it work in the context of SEO activities at large? Many SEO specialists are critical of White Hat SEO. They think that it is only a theory and that one cannot seriously rank using only White Hat techniques. Is this really the case? There are many things in this, but White Hat elements work very well in the so-called viral content.
In line with the assumptions of White Hat, you can, for example, create very good quality content (e.g., research or case studies) and share it on social media. In addition, it would be worth running several paid AdWords campaigns, at least at the beginning, and using those available in the aforementioned social media. By consistently running Viral Content, you have a good chance of getting a satisfactory number of backlinks. A variety of this type of activity may be guest posts on websites of other publishers.
Link building tactics that will cause you more trouble than good, i.e. what not to do...
Link Exchange Systems
Many people professionally related to SEO (and even entire companies) are not against LES (Link Exchange System). They believe that using them in moderation and wisely can bring tangible benefits, of course, recommending their use only to advanced positioners. Certainly, LESs in the wrong hands can do serious damage to a positioned website. The question is, can their common-sense use in the long term be good? The answer should be given by the reader himself, taking into account the fact that the Link Exchange Systems are completely inconsistent with the guidelines for webmasters presented by Google on its websites.
Interestingly, a few years ago, LESs enjoyed great popularity. Since the Google algorithm began to be refined, more and more webmasters started receiving notifications in Google Webmaster Tools (now Google Search Console) about manual actions, which usually meant a filter or a ban. Currently, the algorithm is doing better and better at detecting paid and thus unnatural links.
So try to avoid:
- link generating machines,
- paid (and free) links in low-quality, unmoderated directories,
- webmasters and bloggers offering paid links on their sites,
- links on sites with poor-quality content or poor links.
A shortcut to full-blown content
There is only one surefire way to get a good quality link - create high-quality content. Any other content can be linked to Gray Hat or Black Hat SEO. Text writing tactics that were once popular (synonymized texts, press page texts, etc.) can only harm your website these days.
Similarly, getting links with a small amount of work is as simple as leaving comments under articles like "Great article!" or (the other way around) leaving long, interesting comments on low-quality blogs that are often abandoned and obsessed with hundreds of automatically generated content.
What's more, you will not benefit from placing a link in the comment, even with the DoFollow attribute. Why? DoFollow in the comments attracts all kinds of spam, therefore (if the comments are not moderated) it means that these places are overloaded with links creating a real farm, which are the target of "attack" by Google bots.
At the same time, you should pay attention to outdated SEO techniques that used to work and are now definitely damaging. It is, among others, about over-optimized anchor text or keyword stuffing. The easiest way to avoid this type of error is to write texts for users, not for Google ranking.
Lack of a link building strategy
The biggest mistake of a link-building strategy is its lack. You can have great content but if it is not supplemented with a proper linking strategy, the potential will be untapped.
After publishing high-quality content, you need to reach the right audience that will be interested in it. It is worth making contacts with bloggers and webmasters, as well as using social media to promote content, because effective content coverage is a key element in building relationships, and thus the chances of natural backlinks increase.
The unpleasant truth about getting links is that it consumes a lot of time and money, so you should focus on every single link that goes directly to your website.
To be able to start a link building strategy, you must have:
- a well-optimized website,
- natural and logical structure of the website,
- high-quality content on the website.