Link Building Guide
Update March 27, 2009:
This article was written by me almost 3 years ago in june 2006. It needs to be updated to correctly reflect the current search engines guide lines and new methods for link building.
/ Jim Westergren
I have been providing many thousands of links to my SEO clients and I have myself established a number of PR6 sites and almost won the biggest SEO contest ever with the means of huge link power.
The purpose of this article is to help you in your link building using 5 steps.
- Study and understand the guidelines for a natural simulation.
- Study and understand your link profile.
- Study and understand the effective ways to get links.
- Work out your own link building program.
- Get the links!
This article is based on my opinion and what I believe. (use at your own risk).
Guidelines for a Natural Simulation
The majority of your backlinks you acquire should:
Have a varied anchor text
Target your keywords but make very sure to vary the anchor a lot. Even a few "click here" is good to get.
Come from related pages
This is probably the most important, especially for english web sites. It is commonly believed that links from related pages carries more "weight" (not PR).
Come from different locations on the linking pages.
Don't have all the backlinks from footers or any other specific place. Have them on the top of the page, inside the body text, navigation, footer etc.
Placed with a gradual natural increase
Don't place hundreds or thousands of links to a new site the first days ... I have tested that and gotten the site banned in Google. You need to gradually place the links and the quantity all relates to how much links the site is usually getting. So if a site usually gets 10 new links per week then don't place 100 suddenly one day.
Placed from pages with a varied PR value
In my opinion not more than 15-20% of your backlinks to a site should be from PR 5+ pages.
Come from good neighbourhood
Don't have a majority of your backlinks from adult, pharmacy, and poker/casino sites. Such sites are known to spam and I am pretty sure Google frowns upon them.
Come from different C-class IPs
Google sees this. Have your links coming from total different sites.
Come from both old trusted as well as new sites
It is also good to mix this up.
Come from reciprocal linking
Reciprocal links are still good but don't have them as a majority of your backlinks. 3-way-linking is a good alternative but don't use any patter.
Point to internal pages as well as your home page
Never underestimate backlinks pointing to your internal pages. As you have your internal pages SEO'd as well, get backlinks to these as well with varied anchor. It is been speculating that the value of these has increased during the BigDaddy update.
Come from non-directories
A selected few directories such as ODP and Yahoo carries trust in Google from the editorial vote. However, many directories does not give that and I even suspect that having a majority of your backlinks from 200 free general directories even can do harm to your link profile. They can still be good but should just be something extra to the links you already have.
Not be temporary
The age of your backlinks is important. It has even been speculated that this is a factor of the Google Sandbox filter. Strive to get permanent links. When renting links, rent for as long as possible.
Not have paid linking footprints around them
Words such as sponsors, advertisement and the like are spotted by Google and are devalued. If the majority of your backlinks come from such links it could maybe even do you harm.
Not come from pages that links to bad neighbourhood
You should not place your links on pages that are in bad neighbourhood, but you should also not place them on sites that themself link to these kind of sites. Google uses advanced relation and co-citation systems in their algo.
Come from pages with the same language
Seem to be obvious but is very important to show up properly in the Google country specific searches. It seems to be from my recent observations that this is the most important factor in determining the language of the site for Google (other factors is IP, Domain name TLD and actual written language of the site).
Your Link Profile
Study the above Guidelines for a Natural Simulation and write down the points your site is in danger for to get a potential unnatural flag warning from search engines. Those are the points that you should not continue with.
Effective ways to get links
This is the single most important method. It has mainly to do with good content that gets links the natural way. To keep things simple in this guide I have decided that everything that makes people link to you because of the content on the page/site falls under this category of link baiting. You need to read this post I wrote on link baiting. Comments: Pure white hat, recommended but sadly not very effective if not something real major.
Directory submissions/Link Building using directories
There are specialized SEOs and Link Builders that are doing directory submissions. There are 4 kinds of directories here: pay-for-inclusion, reciprocal required, free and niche directories. And there are of course specialists in each one of these. There are almost one thousand free SEO friendly general directories, a list of these and a submission service can be seen here. As for placement in reciprocal directories there are both brokers and non-brokers. Comments: Cheap way to get many low quality links. Can take months before effect is seen. Deep links usually not possible. New edit and comment on this: since BigDaddy Google has been smashing and deindexed internal pages on a lot of directories, but the indexed pages still show a PR value even though they are deindexed. Keep this in mind and run a site: command or type the URL of the internal page in Google to see if the directory/page has been hit.
Link Exchange, 2 and 3 ways
The good old way. I link to you and you link to me. This is more useful if you have 30 or more sites as you can get and provide relevant links. Rule of thumb: you contact people, not the opposite. There are also Reciprocal Link Programs but I don't recommend that. Comments: Don't overdue it ...
High PR-subscriptions (Grey Hat?)
You can rent PR 5-9 text links at various places for various prices. Cheap places I had some very good success with: here, here and here. Comments: Don't get too many high PR links too fast, get relevant if possible.
I am myself getting 200 permanent links a day from this program to 40 URLs, all with varied anchor. The links you get from this program are mostly footer links and other low quality links but the program is extremely powerful. Do not, I repeat, do not display Link-Vault ads on your most valuable web sites - that is a red flag, especially since BigDaddy. Comments: Only negative is that the links are mostly footer and the relevancy is not that good, other than that it is great.
DP Coop Ads (Grey Hat)
This program gives you a lot of rotating temporary backlinks from mostly footers of sites. I have been using this program successfully to boost SERP ranks in Google, especially at the V7N SEO contest. This program is extremely powerful as well as dangerous and can have your site banned or harmed if you are not careful. My rule of thumb: maximum 5K weight on a single ad. At one moment I had 120K weight and I was getting many many thousands of links to more than 40 ads that I had. Comments: Remember that these are all footer, irrelevant, temporary and with fast growth.
Linking from your own web sites
This is an excellent way if you have many relevant pages in the same niche. Comments: Don't interlink all, keep sites on different C-class IPs and avoid patterns.
You can post on the business section of webmaster forums stating that you will pay to get the blogger to blog about and link to your site. Example. Comment: Good to get the word out. The blog post will over time be buried down in the blog structure.
Write an article with links in the article and/or in the resource section to your site. Or pay somone to write these for you. Use specialist (example) to have these submitted to article directories such as this one. Comment: Long term strategy, takes time to see effects. Can be good for traffic.
Search the SERPS and make offers. (Jim Boykins speciality)
Yahoo and MSN both gives some extremely valuable information in regards to backlinks. Both of the engines tend to list the site with the most link power first in a backlink query.
Study and understand the following queries:
- seo linkdomain:seobook.com -site:seobook.com linkdomain:seomoz.org -site:seomoz.org -link:jimwestergren.com (MSN or Yahoo) = Sites containing SEO, that link to both seobook.com and seomoz.org but not to jimwestergren.com.
- site:jimwestergren.com link building (Google) = Which page on the domain jimwestergren.com is most relevant and has the most power for the query link building?
- site:jimwestergren.com (Yahoo) = Which page on the domain jimwestergren.com has the most power? Not always the home page and the list is interesting to see. You can do the same in Google if you find the right query, valid example.
Use both of the above examples in this technique and send off a nice e-mail on your link offer to the ones you choose. Comment: Expensive ...
Make directories and make the link submitter reciprocal to a site of your choice.
I use this on 2 general directories of mine. My directories are free but the link submitter gets his link featured if he reciprocal with my other site. I get about 10 links per week using this. Comments: Irrelevant, certain percantage come from bad neighbourhood and not always from same language.
Write testimonials and reviews
Write and send a testimonial to your web host, web designer, web developer and SEO. They probably publish it at their site and if you are lucky they link to you as well. Send a review to your favorite sites and have your name and link at the bottom of it. Comments: Time consuming ...
Links under articles
This is a new method I developed myself, here. In the future I think more will start to use this as well. It enables to link builder to exactly specify which articles, the anchor and the URL of each link. Good for deep pages. Comments: All same IP. Permanent.
There are more ways but the ones above are the ones that I deem effective,
Use a mix of all the above ways to get links but follow what you wrote down when you studied your link profile.
Good luck! Let me know if you had use of it.
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