The Rules of Link Building for SEO

Link building is one of the main ranking factors of Google, making it extremely important. But it is possible that you could be link building the wrong way by using outdated practices.

If you want to ensure you’re doing it correctly, in order to reap the most benefits, then keep reading to find out which link building tactics still matter and which are a waste of time or downright harmful.

The things you should be doing (the do’s)

1. Determine the value of the link

Don’t think about ranking for a second, what actual value will that link bring to your website? Is it authority, relevancy, or potential traffic? Weigh up all your options and determine the value of your site. If you can’t see what the value is, then Google won’t either.

2. Local listings still do well

Local business citations are on a bunch of different platforms, and services such as Moz Local can get you up and running a little bit quicker. They show Google that your business is indeed located where it says it is.

It reveals important business information, such as the address, contact details, etc. When you’re creating your citations, it is important that you be consistent with the formatting of your NAP (name, address, phone number). However, something that isn’t really talked about all that often is that some of these local listings will never be indexed by Google. So, why is that?

If you’re doing business listings, you need to create a page on your business website that says where you can be found online. Then you need to link to those local listings to help Google get that indexed, and it sort of has this boomerang-like effect on your site.

3. Unlinked brand mentions

One of the smoothest ways you can gain a link is to figure out who else is talking about your brand or company, but not yet linking to it.

For example, if a business posts an article on “the top SEO companies in the world”, and a business is mentioned, but no link is available, it’s simply a case of dropping a message and asking could they drop in your link as it would be helpful.

They’re mentioning the business anyway, so adding the link would actually help their readers and of course your link building.

4. Reclaim broken links

This is an effective tactic to gain more links with minimal effort. Find the 404’s pages that are now linked to your website. This occurs when you’ve removed a page, or updated the content and the URL has changed.

You want to make sure that you 301 this broken link on your site so that it pushes the authority elsewhere and you aren’t missing out on that link.

5. Ask / Outreach!

Businesses often have this fear of asking but there’s nothing wrong with asking. We know that link building outreach, in general, can be difficult or painful due to the low response rate, but, that doesn’t mean people don’t get responses, which means it could be your business. Think strategically about it or outreach to people you already currently know.

6. Create great content and gain natural links

We hear it all the time when it comes to link building, it’s like, “Link building is dead, all you need to do is create great content and people will naturally link to you, it’s great”. It is great, but there is something to be said about having a healthy mix. There’s this idea of link building and then link earning. But there’s a really perfect sweet spot where you really do get the most bang for your buck.

Things you shouldn’t be doing (the don’ts)

1. Don’t be specific with anchor text

It just looks like spam. Websites need to be linked to however they see fit in a way that is going to look more natural. Remember Google is going to consider it to be more organic, which will boost your search engine optimisation in the long-run.

2. Don’t sell or buy links that pass PageRank

In today’s money making world, you can now sell or buy links that have a no-follow attached, which attributes that this is paid for, whether you don’t trust it, or if it’s an advertisement. It’s definitely worth looking into those and understanding how that works.

3. Avoid hidden links

This used to be a well-used and well-known tactic. We sneakily put a white link on a white background and thought Google would never notice. Maybe in the past, it could have worked, but not today. Google is too smart, and they will penalise you for doing it.

4. Low-quality directory links

Just like you should avoid the hidden links, you should also avoid low-quality directory links. This is where you just use a lot of text and links, then pop a random and completely irrelevant link there. Avoid this.

5. Site-wide links look like spam

Sitewide being whether it’s a top-level navigation link or a footer link, you definitely don’t want to use those. They simply look like spam, and Google doesn’t like spam. Remember you’re trying to impress Google with all your links!

6. Comment links with over-optimised anchor link text

Avoid, avoid, avoid. Again, it just looks spammy and it won’t help you in the long-run. Always think of the overall value the link brings to your website.

7. Link schemes and private blog networks (PBN’s)

Using these type of services will get you into a lot of trouble! There is a massive risk that Google will penalise or de-index your website altogether from SERP’s (search engine results page). It looks so spammy, and you want to avoid this at all costs.

8. Link exchange

Back in the day, people used to submit a site to a link exchange and you wouldn’t be granted that link until you also linked to them. You really need to avoid this and to be honest, it doesn’t work anymore, but there is many opportunities and quick wins for you to gain links naturally and more authoritatively.

Wrapping up

These are some of the classic rules of link building. Basically, if you are unsure as to whether you should link through to something, you need to consider what it brings to your website.

Consider the value, because that’s exactly what Google is doing too. Google wants to help you rank, so make it easy by creating high quality, relevant and beneficial links!

At Baldwin Digital, we provide a professional and transparent SEO service which brings great return on investment for our clients, why not get in touch with us today to find out more.

By |Tuesday, 31 July, 2018|Link Building|

About the Author:

Mark Baldwin is the managing director of Baldwin Digital, an Irish digital marketing agency based in Cork, Ireland. He is a digital marketing specialist with expertise in search engine optimisation, Google AdWords management and website development. When he’s not implementing digital marketing strategies in collaboration with his team, he enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his family and friends.