Since Google’s Penguin update people have been worrying about building links and the process they use to build links themselves.
What is the Penguin update all about?
In short, it’s Google’s latest attack on webspam – that is, those websites Google considers are ‘cheating’ their way to high rankings. Whereas the previous main update – ‘Panda’ – focussed on web content related issues, ‘Penguin’ focuses on the other main ranking factor – your backlinks. So, link farms, comment spam, paid for links, excessive interlinking between related sites, ‘unnatural’ anchor text, facile blog and forum posts are all under the spotlight. Here’s a post for you which will help you with getting your link building right.
How to build links
Firstly, when building links beware it needs to be seen as a natural process and so don’t just think about search engine rankings but think about where you place links and how these places will benefit your website.
Your current links
As with with anything else it is best to start this process by looking at what you already have and trying to improve this first. The best way to do this is to visit your Google Webmaster account.
When you are logged in click through your links one at a time and check whether the link is on a relevant website, it is in a relevant place on the website and that the link has relevant anchor text. It can be beneficial if the anchor text includes your keyphrase for that page but really it is important that the link isn’t simply your domain name. If the link is just your domain name you should see what you can do to change it, this will normally mean emailing the developer of the website that you have a listing on.
Once you have done this you don’t only have more of an idea of how many links you have to your website but you also have a starting point which will allow you to track your links in future. So this is where you make a note of how many links you have and download these links so that you have a copy.
Looking at your competitors
Now that your links have been spring cleaned the next obvious point is to look at your competitor links to see if you can get additional online presence through the same areas. There are a couple of tools that are good for this: The SEO Moz Open Site Explorer and Back Link Watch
When using these tools you need to know who your competitors are so you can search for their links. You should already have a handful of competitors that you know of and have used for your keyphrase analysis. You should also type your keyphrases into Google to see if you have other online competitors that you didn’t know of.
Once you have a list of domains simply work through these one at a time to see where they have links and if you think that you would benefit from links in the same place. Here you should also see how you can add links to these websites: whether this is filling in a submission form or contacting a website owner.
Checking a website before building a link
You may of heard the term nofollow. This is a tag that can be added to a link to tell a search engine not to pass any link equity from one website to another and it looks like this:
<a href=”http://www.domainname.com” rel=”nofollow”>Anchor Text Here</a>
So you are looking for code like this:
<a href=”http://www.domainname.com”>Anchor Text Here</a>
However there might be other attributes included within this such as id, class etc…
(<a href=”http://www.domainname.com”>Anchor Text Here</a>)
Obviously when you check for the type of link you will need to look at links that exist on the website already.
You should also have the Google Toolbar installed on your website. This tool among other features has the Google Page Rank feature which allow you to see if a page had a PageRank and information on when it was cached.
Nowadays the Page Rank is only a small factor when looking at the importance of a website. However you should ensure that you are building a link from a website that has been cached by Google. To do this click on the Page Rank button then click on: Google Text Cache. If this gives you a 404 error then do not build a link from this website. If it hasn’t been cached it has either been banned by Google or Google doesn’t know it exists so the link will not be useful anyway.
Different types of links
There are a lot of different types of websites out there that you can get links from. Here are some of them:
Searching for directories
There are 2 main types of directories: Specific directories and General directories.
Specific directories are those that are industry or business specific. For example there are lots of directories out there that target travel such as Travel Directory. It is important to get listings on these types of website not only for search engines but to place your website in more potential search areas on the web.
There are literally millions of general directories across the web. For example one great directory is the Open Directory Project (also known as DMOZ). It is also useful to be placed on this type of directory, again to increase your website’s exposure.
As well as increasing your website exposure links from directories will improve you search engine rankings.
How to add your website to a directory
Here is a guide to show you how to Add your website to a directory
Paid directory listings
Although technically it is okay to pay for a directory listing as long as it isn’t paying for a guaranteed place on the directory and is paying for admin costs we recommend not paying for directory listings unless they are with Yahoo or Yell.
Forums and Blogs
In the past these have been seen as good places for links. This can still be good but this should not be simply logging into a blog or forum and and sneaking in a link where you can. Apart from this being very unnatural, in time these links will normally be removed and classed as spam. Also on forums doing this is normally breaking the advertising rules that you signed up for.
However you can build links from blogs and forums overtime by becoming a guest blogger and overtime the webmaster may give you your own author page or something similar where you can add in a mention of your website.
Taking part in forums and blogs may also help with rankings in the future. Now that social media is becoming more important in search being a guest blogger for multiple websites and blogging on your own website will increase your website visibility online.
Finding directories, forums and blogs
As well as finding links through competitors, links can also be found in other ways. A very effective way is by searching for directories, blogs and forums. This can be done by typing your main phrase after a phrase such as blog, directory or forum.
Here is a website that does this for you, all you do is type in your main phrase then click on the different links – Solo SEO. We recommend not solely using Google for this because you can find other links through the other search engines.
There are a lot of article and PR websites online that let you submit articles to them and some offer links back you your website. These links back you your website are normally because you include them within the article or in your personal information as the author of the article. Over the past few years these websites have started to remove most of the links within the article and added nofollow tags to the author informations. However again these can be useful to improve your online visibility and there are still a lot of websites out there that allow links to be included in the article, obviously if they are relevant.
Getting links from websites and people that you know is great for your website but you shouldn’t just email every website that you find with a links page. This is something that should be done to improve a visitor’s experience.
So how can you exchange links without the old fashioned links/resources page? You should think about why a link from your website and a link from their website would benefit visitors then you should build this in. Here are a couple good examples:
Testimonials: Both having a small article explaining why you are happy working together;
Case Studies: Both explaining your business relationship: why it started; how it started, why you are both happy.
These are all good ways to manually increase your visibility online and most will also have the benefit of improving your search engines listings. However this need to be accompanied by exceptional content.