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Three types of backlinks
There are generally three types of backlink:
- Natural links are that someone else, without your realizing, creates a link to your site. In many cases, this is a qualitative link that refers to content on your site. In many cases, but not always, it is wise to keep an eye on which sites link to your pages.
- Self-initiated links, which are realized based on targeted link-building activities. For example, by asking a blogger or customer to link to your site on his or her website.
- Links that you have created yourself, which you have added yourself to a collective site, forum, or in a comment.
Of course, in addition to providing the right content and backlinks, you also need to ensure the correct technical capabilities of your website. Think specifically of things such as responsiveness and speed.
The right way
Given the emphasis Google places on providing quality content, the question is justified to what extent the benefits of link building will continue to exist. In response to this, ‘Building links is the right way, wins the day!‘ a frequently heard statement.
But what is the right way? It boils down to two things:
- Not wanting to manipulate the algorithm by working around Google and buying links or obtaining them in some other excessive way.
- And ensure that your content is relevant so that you build connections autonomously because others link to your content.
This takes time for both points of attention. Building a large number of links quickly and proactively is therefore out of the question if you want to achieve future-proof results.
In summary, maintaining your website is all about constantly paying attention to building qualitative external links with policy.
The Search Engine Ranking Factors survey
The Search Engine Ranking Factors Giants Survey that SEO software Moz carries out every two years gives a clear picture: the presence of the correct external links, used in the right way, remains of great importance for good ranking by Google. Also, in 2017, factors such as authority, number, and anchor texts were still found to be in the first place when it comes to influencing the search engine ranking.
It is striking that in 2015 points described below also appeared to have the most effect on Google’s algorithm.
Fig 2. MOZ Search Engine factors 2015
Suppose the results from these Moz studies match somewhat with Google’s secret about the weight of the various ranking factors. In that case, the expectation can only be that SEO tricks that have proved successful will continue to be of great importance in the future. Of course, with the addition that content relevance also plays an important role, others also like to link to this content.
Which points of interest should you keep in mind when you get started with link building? We listed a number of them for you.
- The ideal number of links
External link building should be done ‘with policy,’ as Google is stringent on alleged abuse of external links. As soon as Google has the idea that the links are from a marketing perspective, more than from a content contribution, the website can receive a penalty that does not benefit the site’s findability. Therefore, my advice is to distinguish between links set up from a marketing perspective (think of registering the link on a content collection page) and links based on content (a relevant blog, for example).
You should carefully implement the links from a marketing perspective. About 1 to 2 links per week seems to be tolerated by Google. This means that you have to take the time every week to post new links.
The effect of link building based on relevant content also takes time. You spend that time in particular on the realization of substantive content and seeking contact with parties where this substantive content could be of interest. It is a win-win situation: one provides substantive content, and the other provides the link. Based on my experiences, my advice would be to post 3 to 4 content links per week.
2. The quality of links
External links often vary in quality, with backlinks from high-quality sites with authority meeting the findability of your site. Points of attention to realize backlinks are:
- The popularity of the website that links to yours. This is measured using the page rank that a particular page has. The higher the page rank, the more value a link from this page to your website has. Some organizations are doing a whole study of unraveling the Google algorithm. These organizations offer tools that (based on their assessment) provide insight into the PageRank of pages, such as the Open Site Explorer from MOZ and rank InLink Rank from SEO Powersuite.
- The number of links that go from a specific website to your website only counts once. It, therefore, does not help to link from a particular collection site to multiple pages on your website.
- Relevance of the topic. The better the external website matches the subject of your site, the higher the relevance that Google assigns to your link.
- Also, take a good look at do-follow and no-follow links. The article about no-follow links describes what is meant by this and uses a no-follow and a do-follow link. What’s important is that you will get a do-follow link if yours is associated with relevant websites. For commercial texts (which you may have paid for), you put a no-follow link. This means that you are not responsible for the page and that Google should not follow that link. Ensure that the page you want to link from has do-follow links and not just no-follow links. Google is also looking at a natural link pattern, so the combination of do-follow and no-follow links. If you only have do-follow links, Google sees that as unnatural, and unnaturalness arouses suspicion on the part of the search engine and often harms the ranking.
3. Relevant anchor text
The anchor text is the text that supports the link to your website. Google includes the anchor texts in assessing the relevance of your website for a search query. So if there are many anchor texts about online marketing and digital marketing in various guises going to SEOBacklinkkBuilding, then it is very likely that Google will assume that SEOBacklinkkBuilding is a relevant outcome for searches related to this Field.
There are several points to consider when choosing a suitable anchor text (see also the Frankwatching article on anchor texts). In any case, Google wants there to be a reasonable variation in the type of anchor texts. Commonly used forms are:
- Brand name
To influence the relevance of the anchor text and the variation in it, it is wise to immediately suggest the anchor text when creating a link to your site. But here, too, over-optimization is counterproductive for Google!
4. The topicality of the link
Google looks at the topicality of the content and, therefore, also at the topicality of the links. The growth in the number of links to a page indicates the topicality and relevance of this page. And relevant content is, as is known, rewarded by Google.
Also, concerning link actuality, the growth in the number of links pointing to a page must appear natural. You can organize it like this, for example:
- Choose the number of pages to which you want to link. For example, because you prefer to share the information on this page or choose the top 10 most visited pages of your website.
- Then choose a relevant anchor text for each page.
- Plan the links taking into account the maximum number of connections per week recommended above.
- Make sure you plan about half a year to keep working, and the number of links can increase regularly. We recommend updating and supplementing the top 10 to top 25 content items every six months so that the page remains relevant in the future and periodically receives new backlinks in a natural way.
Adding five links to the same page is less easy to maintain at the same pace than adding links spread over various pages. And that, in turn, is at odds with the idea that the more links made to a specific page, the more relevant the content on that page is likely to be.
Adding the links over the pages, you find relevant makes it easier to keep up the pace. The freshness score of the page where the link comes from influences the rating that this link receives. A link from an old, static page that the Google crawlers have not visited for a long time because no new content has been posted has more negligible effect than a link from a page with much content added to it. Freshness is also known as FreshRank.
5. Spam score
It is essential to regularly check the total number of links, the number of connections per page, and the quality of the links. You can do this based on the so-called spam score of the backlinks. A commonly used tool to find out the spam score is Open Site Explorer Moz. This tool provides an excellent visual representation of which backlinks refer to your site and what the spam score of the various links is. It is a superb aim to have relations with a green spam score and to have links that no longer have that at a certain point in time, to have it removed.
Open Site Explorer
If the website’s administrator in question goes through the spam score of the backlinks every quarter, it becomes clear which links have a negative spam score. The administrator can then choose to remove unwanted links. Also, the administrator can, of course, check whether the number of connections per page continues to grow sufficiently. That way, the entire process is manageable, and you ensure that you mainly have backlinks that have a positive contribution to the rating of your site by the search engines.
Pay attention! The removal of 5 to 10 links in one fell swoop can, of course, hurt the link value, so removing links, just like adding links, must also be done with care.
6. Realizing backlinks
How do you make sure that your website or specific pages are as attractive as possible for third parties to link to from their site? Several options:
- Make sure that you post engaging content on your website so that readers will be happy to place a link to your content. Google values organic links for their alleged relevance.
- Use current affairs to hitch a ride on the popularity of a particular topic. For example, link a piece of news to your expertise. By responding to current events, you will receive a higher rating from Google, and there is a good chance that others will link to your content. This method is also called newsjacking.
- Create customer cases that the customer is proud of so that they also happily link to your lawsuit.
- Create templates from content that you make available, which third parties link.
But above all:
Make sure you have a structural approach in which you use the easiest route.
- Realize relevant backlinks.
- Influence the frequency of new links not penalized by Google.
A suitable method for this is the following:
- Make a list of customers you would like to approach to get a backlink. Go to the customer’s website, see where a link works best for the customer and help the customer realize the connection. This can be done, for example, by writing a blog for the customer, supplying a logo in advance, sharing an appropriate anchor text with the customer. In any case, make sure that you relieve your customer of as much work as possible. With that, you can increase your chance of a link.
- Then contact the customer, explain where and how you would like to realize the link, and offer help where necessary.
- Make a list of competitors and find out which backlinks this competitor is using. Do this, for example, via a so-called backlink research tool. List these links from your competitor, including the spam score, and determine which links might be of interest to your site. Review the websites and determine where a link on that site would make the most sense. Then approach the site owner in question and request that they include a link to your website.
- Get your list of keywords you want to find on and identify which websites come up when you search for those words. Then do the same as above and determine which backlinks could also be attractive for your site. Determine again where a link on the site in question would make the most sense and approach the site owner to ask if linking is possible.
- Use relevant social channels such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter and determine which influencers come to the fore when entering your chosen keywords. Check if these influencers have a relevant website and do the same as described above.
To make this process easy, we have prepared a backlink template for you to use.
Other points for attention
What else is essential in setting up a successful link-building strategy? For example, the place where the backlink is placed (with the correct anchor texts, of course) is also essential. In 2016, Search Engine Round Table published Google’s official response, describing the negative effect of ‘hiding’ the links (as in the footer). John Mueller of Google indicates that ties in a wide header or the footer are rated lower than links placed in the middle of the relevant content.
Other external linking aspects that Google is less enthusiastic about and which can negatively influence findability in the search results:
- You are buying or selling links. This includes paying for cash or kind associations and delivering a product or service with a positive connection in return. The latter is a somewhat debatable point because it contradicts influencer marketing, which stands and falls with content about your product or service posted by influencers. The following applies here: rather sell your links in moderation than not at all.
- The productive exchange of links and the purpose of partner pages is only to share links from each other. In practice, these partner pages work fine. The tip is, therefore, to ensure that these pages also contain relevant content. Think of an extended content piece about collaboration in which you discuss your product and service. And make sure that it is not only filled with links.
- It is using the keyword in abundance in anchor texts and guest blogs. Also, Google looks at relevance so that the keyword in both the anchor text and its content is linked. Proofing relevancy is to ensure that what users find remains natural and readable. So paying someone for a guest blog that uses the desired keyword unnaturally can work against you.
- Finally, using automated link-building tools to get more links to the site is also strongly discouraged.
Important success factor
Backlinking or external linking is essential for your findability in the search engines if you do it in the right way. It a given the emphasis that Google places on relevance; having suitable backlinks will also be an essential success factor for the findability of your website in the future.
Here we will like to emphasize again that Google especially values the naturally created backlinks and punishes manipulation. Therefore, the approach and insights described above are based on my daily experience and are thus not promoted by Google.
Link building must be part of the comprehensive online marketing strategy, in which valuable content with a clear message, targeted interaction with selected target groups, a conscious choice for online channels, and a more structured approach to success.
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