Learn The Basics Of Essential Backlink Building
Whichever way you look at it, impressing Google is a long and complicated process. When seeking out a Digital Agency, business owners are forgiven for feeling overwhelmed.
You are expected to sift through the promises and impressive statistics to find the right and safest bet for your brand. It is an exercise fraught with risk.
Successful backlinking to improve the search engine ranking of your website is as complicated and delicate as it is powerful and effective. If you don’t break a sweat while building your digital currency, you’re not doing it right. But backlinking is no rocket science, and if you keep a few things in mind and most importantly, stick to the rules and keep practising, you’ll be able to master the art of backlinking soon enough!
The Role Of Backlinking For SEO
Each search engine has its own algorithm, which they use to determine how valuable websites are and to rank them, page by page, in the search results. For every website owner the ultimate goal should be to land on page one on the SERP, and as high as humanly possible. Or should we say organically? Because there is a second option for those wanting to stand out from the crowd: Pay Per Click advertising campaigns. Which one is the better solution for you? We’ve discussed both options here!
The art of backlinking to drive SEO is alive and well. While the rules to effective link building are not as black or white as you may prefer, Google may still squash your search engine marketing efforts if you partake in sketchy activities. If you’re sticking to Google’s best practice guidelines, you’re playing it safe. We often refer to this as white hat practices. But it is just one of many SEO philosophies – and differently coloured headgear you can wear.
If you like drawing over the lines to see results sooner and are willing to risk falling off the ranking cliff, literally overnight, then nothing speaks against spicing things up with adding a few black or grey hat techniques to your efforts. A great SEO specialist will always be upfront about all the downsides involved in using different strategies.
Black Hat Backlinking
Black hat is the go-to backlinking solution for the bold (and sometimes reckless). In the digital world it is the oftentimes innocent website owner who is under time-pressure and wants their site ranked as quickly as possible. And yes, this includes risking punishment for the following faux-pas by their most important ally; Google!
1. Buying Links
Google grades links as votes, much like Facebook algorithms rate and value pages based on likes and comments between users. Buying these ‘votes’ is in breach of Google guidelines. The Google algorithm has an eye on sites selling links and if you knowingly or unknowingly buy from, or become associated with these sites you may suffer the consequences. Likewise, if you link to sites that have been penalised you too may ensure a poor reputation for yourself.
2. Spammy Blog And Forum Comments
We know…you see unhelpful, often irrelevant, usually horribly written comments everywhere. It is frustrating. These may appear with, or without a filthy, possibly disease-ridden link to hideous spun content or a crappy irrelevant site. Just like a bad date, these sneaky backlinks will murder your delicate relationship with Google.
3. Insincere Guest Posting And Article Marketing
Black hat link building tactics target reputable sites and offer a guest blog while demanding a followed link in return. They will submit the same, to hundreds of sites. They will often offer to pay for links in posts and unnaturally stuff keywords and excessive optimised anchor text into their content. Rest assured, you will not be able to out-smart Google’s algorithm. These techniques will only tank your site, so don’t fall into the black hat backlinking trap! Let us instead teach you how to do on-page SEO right (and make it fun too).
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4. Excessive Cross-Linking
Cross-linking from page to page with no regard of actual association or relevance is suspicious. Sites that link to other areas of the world that are not likely to actually be associated, or over-ambitious partner pages are no longer standard practice and are red (or should we say black) flags.
There are many other dodgy tactics, but we need to balance the bad with the good. Many blog owners have removed their comments options to avoid the endless spam and risk of damaging their site. This is simply unfair and leads to genuine businesses losing the opportunity to engage with their audience on their useful and engaging content.
Simple Backlink Building Strategies That Work
Now that you know which mistakes to avoid, how can you successfully build backlinks and follow SEO best practice? Keeping your eye out for it should be easy. Just do the opposite right? Wrong! That’s why DIY SEO and website maintenance can be such a minefield.
For each blackhat technique we’ve listed, there is a whitehat version that can at times be frighteningly similar. In the digital arena there is a huge amount of grey space between black and white that can easily tip your backlink balance in the wrong direction. Contrastingly and interestingly, it does allow talented SEO’s a few safe areas within which to innovate, who base their backlink goals around the brand and not the tricks. But we’re not going to divulge that just yet. Let’s look into the angelic opposites of our four poor black hat tactics. When they’re performed well, they’re called strategies. This is how you should handle building backlinks to your website!
1. Building Quality Backlinks
Start small and build up with genuine local backlinks. Consider the local businesses, friends and even relatives that you have collaborated with. Do they have websites? Approach those that support your work. In many cases, all you need to do is ask for a backlink. In-content links will rank higher than those in a sidebar or footer; but testimonials are also a great starter strategy.
Be careful and make sure that the backlink comes from a website that is relevant to your niche; otherwise, it will not have much of an impact and may even be harmful. These links need to be genuinely reciprocal.
As your business, or at least your online presence grows through your digital marketing efforts, naturally building links will become second nature and they’ll ideally start to fire themselves your way. Get yourself out there, market your content and engage with the real people behind the sites you want to cooperate with. Request links in the right way, particularly if you’re an up and coming, not yet ‘trusted’ site. If you’ve already done some of the backlinking work, there are plenty of ways to check the quality of your exhausting backlinking work!
2. Effective Blog And Forum Comments
Comment on blogs and forums by safe means (not by all means)! Participation in active discussion is excellent promotional leverage. By active, we mean current. Carefully check the dates and engagement on the posts you target and ensure you provide valuable input within the context of the thread.
Link away to relevant content; but just as we recommend in ‘guest posts’ be wary of commercial keywords as your anchors, and avoid over-optimising. One relevant link is sufficient if you haven’t yet developed a relationship with the site, forum or blog author. Always identify yourself.
3. Genuine Guest Posting And Article Marketing
So, someone wants to link back to your website and even talk about you. Great! However, ensure they’re careful with creating natural links; that means – no keyword-stuffed anchor text. Whitehats are genuine in their approach to guest blogging. They work their way up the reputable site ranks to the big guns and tailor their guest blog offer specifically to the target.
Brand mentions are gaining value and whitehats are usually satisfied with a mention rather than a link. Carefully construct relevant wording for the blog you propose to contribute to, while considering their target market. Put the time and effort into great content that will be of value to them; no generic article for multiple sites.’
Successful whitehat strategies are built around low cost or free organic growth with minimal risk. Networking and connecting with site admins is paramount and relationship building and might inevitably trump link building.
4. Exchanging Links…Properly
There is nothing wrong with exchanging links. In fact, it’s an abundant SEO boosting tool for websites. However, the relationship between links needs to make sense and prove helpful, useful or interesting from a users perspective. Ensure your link exchange strategy is genuine and without excess. If it contributes to, or complements your topic, the Google algorithm should have no problem with you.
Are Your Backlinking Efforts Paying Off?
Now that you’ve been driving in sixth gear to take your backlink game to the next level, it’s time to hit the break and have a look at how your site is performing. A proper backlink analysis helps you weed out any bad or spammy links that could result in a Google penalty.
You can not only analyse your own site but those of your main competitors, too. If you do not know who they are, simply pop your main keywords into the Google Search engine and see what comes up. Or get all the link intelligence you need to stand out from the crowd of competitors and use one of the tools our team relies on for day to day SEO analysis. Our favourites are SEMrush, Mangools and Majestic. Neil Patel’s Ubersuggest is a terrific free resource to get started and up your backlink game with.
A few key metrics you should look at are the number of links and referring domains. The latter will give you an idea of where new backlink opportunities lie, especially when you’re checking for domains that link to your competitors. Chances are that they’ll be happy to link to your site too!
Why Is Being The Good Guy Still The Long Road?
Many of the black hat methods still work… in the short term. This might not last. Protecting yourself from the eternal struggle that ensues from being penalised should be priority. There are over 200 ranking factors for you to concentrate your efforts on without taking the low road alone.
It’s a competitive world; but if you compete fairly, you’ll rise to the top unscathed in your clean, white, possibly grey-flecked hat. If you fear you may have been hit with a link penalty, or feel it’s time for a check-up on the health of your backlink profile, you don’t need to do it alone, the right SEO recovery partner is out there… like us, Anchor Digital, your partners in climb.