The 12 Days of Link Building

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I just want to be upfront about something. Cheesy post titles are something of a passion of mine. This post is about link building, but the rest of the post title doesn’t make that much sense. It probably should of been called, “some cool link building tips”, but where is the Christmas cheers in that.

This is going to be my last post of 2009 due to work commitments so why not throw together some link building nuggets to bring you into 2010 ……

1. Anchor Texts:

One of the most common mistakes in a link building campaign is the focus will only be on two keywords and attempt to build hundreds (if not more) links with the exact anchor text. There have been filters in place since 2006 that will penalize a site for over using the same anchor text. I had 3 sites removed over the past 6 months for this exact reason. The key to a strong link building campaign is to vary the anchor text used.

2. BackLinks Report by Google

The backlinks reported by Google are no where near accurate. Don’t rely on Google to track your campaign (even Google Webmaster Tools). Yahoo site explorer still provides a solid tool. If you are looking for a paid version, then SEO Spyglass or Majestic SEO could be something worth looking at.

3. Relevant and Trust Worthy

When it comes to what links you should be targeting, in content links from relevant, trust worthy sites are way better than side wide links (paid) on PR 8 sites. Now these are obviously the more difficult to get, but one of these links can be worth a lot more than a bunch of rubbish links from unrelated sites (Link Exchanging).

4. Footer Links

Footer links really don’t add much value, confirmed by Matt Cutts

5. It matters who you hang out with

Most people know that linking out to a bad neighborhood can affect your rank. If they get penalized this can have an adverse effect on your overall rank. Well Co-Citations does matter. If you appear on pages where lots of bad sites appear to be linking with each other (Spam Farms), this can affect the rank of your site.

6. Get Your NoFollow Game Up

This point may seem to be counter intuitive but getting nofollow links can definitely help with your sites rank. When considering your link profile always ask how the average user would link to your site. Would every user link with the correct anchor text ? Would every user link to your site using a variation of a keyword or would they simply have “click here” and would users not link to your site if that link was nofollow. Only SEO girls and guys know what nofollow is there for. It may stop PR being passed on but it’s still good to get a link from an authority site (trust and relevance are big factors in your sites overall rank).

7. Who Cares About PR

I wouldn’t really pay too much attention to PR, I would look at the true link value from the page i.e.

– does the page currently rank for any keyword
– is the page being indexed at regular intervals
– what kind of other links are on the page (outbound links)
– are you in with a good crowd discussed above

There are a lot of automated tools that will do this for you … SEO Spyglass is one I use ..

About Kieran Flanagan

Online Marketer who implements both inbound and paid strategies to help companies grow internationally. Lover of content marketing, SEO, analytics, CRO and strategy. A highly motivated marketing geek high on data crack.

  • Kieran, I just got back to catching up on my favorite bloggers after some time off for the holidays. I like the fact that you covered #5 and #6.
    I agree that the old-school link swap tactic where you build up a giant link page(s) on your site and swap links is going to cause problems today. I still get the feeling that some of the older sites that did this through automation are still benefiting from it. I have no proof but I think Google might be applying the filter or penalty to the newcomers. Do you have any insight into that notion? Am I just crazy and paranoid? It will be tough to catch up with a site that has 5000 backlinks if they count and you can’t use the same tactic.
    I still see posts that pound the message “don’t waste your time” on no-follow links. As you say there is hidden value in the no-follows from top notch sites and it was fine with me that the masses were avoiding those links 😉

  • Hey David

    Thanks for the detailed comment. I think large sites that built links using large link pages benefit because of age and authority. I do think if you did this a couple of years back, you are probably still reaping some of the rewards but if you started trying to catch them using the same tactic it would be a dead end (not in all cases). There are still some cases where it makes sense to grab a link from a related site in your market. But I feel, it should be done in a manner that is more affiliate related i.e. maybe you advertise each others services on relevant pages.
    The problem with most link builders is they get a couple of keywords and then go out trying to get all their links with those keywords in, from do follow sites, as that is what they have been told to do. It doesn’t look natural to just have the same keywords and most sites will get nofollow links, since half the web is that way now 🙂 Building a natural link profile is a skill a lot of people haven’t mastered. I remember reading a post from an SEO guy where advocated NEVER building links with “click here” or your brand name, just use keywords. That is totally the wrong strategy to use.

  • Tim

    Hi Kieran,

    Nice post with some useful thoughts. Link building has been weighing heavily on my mind recently, especially how we apply it to a clients campaigns. The usual methods seem to becoming less effective ie article marketing, on top of this social links, in my opinion are of less worth than a no follow. As we are taking on more high profile clients it is becoming evident that the mainstream competition are buying links. I have read a lot on purchasing links, their hundreds of opinions out there. Rand at SEOmoz states it’s not worth it but claims his risk tolerance on a scale of 1 to 10 is zero, making it clear if he wasn’t bothered about a level of risk he would do it. Aaron Wall at SEObook almost promotes buying a few links to help boost your business, as long as you buy smart.

    I fully agree with you that link building now needs to focus on being natural, from the page it’s on from the position it is in, to the anchor text you use and to the rate the profile is grown. On top of this your site needs to have solid content and resources as I feel low quality sites will eventually start being, those that are manually link building anyway.

    Sorry for the long comment, I clear need to publish something to get my thoughts out. 🙂

    One last thing though, we have recently been finding a lot of benefit in creating strong link partnerships and have seen significant increase in rank and overall search traffic after the implementation of solid partnerships.

    Something to consider a bit more.

  • Hey Tim,

    Thanks for stopping by. I really like the new design of SEOWizz. I have read Rands & Aaron’s thoughts on this before and would agree with Aaron. The web has evolved and some markets are just too competitive in terms of their linking i.e. paid links. I think buying links is a required skill these days, along with other areas that may be considered gray hat. There is just no getting away from it in some markets. It also brings up the whole conversation on what links are good and which should be considered bad. I think it’s quite an hazy area sometimes and SEO consultants love to highlight they are pure white hat, but nearly everything you do can be considered gray hat.

    I agree on strategic partnerships, but they can be difficult at times. In some competitive markets it can be quite difficult to find any that make sense, it can also be really time consuming and although better for the client in the long term, all clients want to see results in the short term. But I definitely agree, they would produce great results. It’s why an affiliate strategy can yield such great links.

    For me, so much depends on the market. If you are competing for insurance, accommodation, home business etc, it’s almost impossible not to become aggressive with your links, if you really want to compete.

    If you are in a more niche area, there could be a lot more opportunities for inventive ways to generate real world links.

    I think we share something in common though, it’s something that is always on my mind …. !!!

  • I think this fit in well with the season, and hey… it obviously sparked some link builders attention with the title. I’ve always wondered why people really fouce on page rank with their link building, but after a great amount of research, I see they prefer the rank because it’s more traffic. Sometimes these types of things can have an adverse effect on the campaign though. Thanks again for sharing. You have a great blog here!