Over the last few years, Google has made several changes in the ways it ranks content. It started with the Panda update which penalized sites with low quality content or a lack of content. Then it delivered the Penguin update which punished sites for black-hat link building practices that created more spam than quality traffic.
These changes alarmed business and web site owners alike as they witnessed their rankings drop dramatically from the first page of Google down to the last. The changes were substantial.
Today, effective link building looks very different than days gone by. It’s critical to learn today’s best practices or else you risk the penalties of Google’s black hole where no valuable traffic ever goes.
- Quality Over Quantity
In the past, you could get 5,000 blog comment links and rank easily rank for many terms on page 1, those days are no more. For the most part, if you want to rank in Google you should choose your link building methods wisely.
Put strategy and thoughts into the links you go after for your site. Quality over quantity is definitely the approach to pursue.
- Adjust Your Anchor Text
Previously, you could use the same keyword optimized anchor text over and over to help rank your website or blog.
Since the Penguin update, all of that has changed. It’s really not that simple anymore. As a matter of fact, if you use the same anchor text over and over these days your site will likely be penalized.
To avoid link over-optimization, diversify your anchors:
- Vary your anchor text
- Use different keywords with your links
- Use a lot of generic anchors, like click here, this site etc.
- Use branded anchors in your links or your first name if it’s a blog
- Use a lot of raw URLs, where the actual domain name is used for the anchor, for example: domain.com, www.domain.com etc.
Most SEO experts agree that no more than 20% of all your entire link profile should contain exact match keywords in the anchors.
- Vary Your Sources
Your link portfolio should also be somewhat diverse. You don’t want to build all of your back links from the same type of website.
For diversification, you want to have links coming from article directories, blogs, social media sites, bookmarking sites, forums and press release sites just to name a few. You should also avoid building too many links at one time because this looks highly unnatural and can have a negative impact on your rankings.
And please do not build links from sites that are all hosted on the same IP address. Google can easily assess that this unnatural and staged. Doing so will not help your rankings. As a matter of fact it can hurt them.
It’s also important to get links from as many high ranking or authority sites as possible, and less of them from low quality spammy sites. The same goes for blog comments and article directories that are of low quality.
- Look for Highly Relevant, Quality Links
“Not all links are created equal.” It’s not just about building links. It’s about building quality links. The idea is to get links from sites that have a high page rank (PR).
However, don’t focus all of your attention on getting links from high PR sites. This may draw a red flag from Google. The key is to make sure your link building efforts look natural. You want to have a mix of links from sites with different page ranks. Whatever you do don’t spend time getting links from low quality sites. No matter how many links you get from those sites it still won’t add up to getting just one link from a quality site.
One of the best ways to build quality links on a regular basis is to submit guest blog posts to highly authoritative sites in your industry. Make sure your content is valuable so the site will want to publish your work. Amplify it with social media and ask your followers to share it.
Build content that can provides educational value for the reader and quality links from related sites. If it helps the reader, they are sure to share it and link to it. Write content that helps people and they will in turn help you by sharing your content.
Link Building Still Matters
Link building still matters as it relates to SEO. But what matters more is the quality and relevancy of your content and who you’re linking to. Links that are contrived and unnatural will never help your opportunity to rank with Google.
About the Author: Kelly Weppler Hernandez is Principal consultant at WH& Associates, a Los Angeles marketing agency. A Master Duct Tape Marketing consultant, Kelly has been interviewed by the American Marketing Association, written for several entrepreneurial and small business magazines and online resources.