Today, most website owners know that links are necessary for improving a site’s ranking. However, if you don’t know what practices go against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines, you might keep doing things that cost you traffic or sales. Here, we will run through best practices and things to avoid when engaging in link building.
Before we begin discussing the types of link-building techniques that help people grow their online presence, you should understand authoritativeness in SEO. An authoritative website is a reliable source of information, and Google considers links from these sites good.
Websites of newspapers, government organizations, and niche interests are examples of authoritative websites. Getting links from these kinds of sites can bring your site credibility as well. They can pass “link juice” to you and give your website SEO value.
Typically, websites accumulate good links slowly, over time. As such, it isn’t scalable—organic link building takes a lot more time and effort, and if you’re on a strict timeline, you cannot rely entirely on it. However, people value organic links because they are valuable.
You cannot easily collect organic links, so having a lot of them gives you a competitive advantage. Two examples of ‘good’ links are editorial links and those from guest blogs.
Editorial links make your link profile stronger. They come from people unaffiliated with you or your brand, like when a journalist or blogger writes about your products or services and link you to their website. Since you don’t request editorial links, Google considers them a significant ranking signal. When other people with no stake in your company’s success praise something you produce, it means you’re doing something right.
It can be challenging to obtain editorial links. However, you can make it easier for journalists and content curators to consider your website a good source of information. For example, you can write about trending news—authoritative websites like finding stories with interesting angles about hot-button issues of the day.
You could also reach out to journalists, bloggers, and content creators in your niche and form professional relationships. People tend to link to people they know or follow, and you can become a “source” for a writer, especially one working in your industry.
When you do guest blogging properly, you can also get valuable links, even if you produce them instead of a third party. Guest posting involves writing content on another company’s website. Typically, you write for blogs within your industry or websites of companies similar to yours. It is because you are likely to have overlaps in your target market, so if you link back to your site from your guest post, you will attract traffic back to your site.
Pursuing guest blogging opportunities also helps you build your brand. When people see you writing for other companies, it raises your profile. Guest posting for another brand in your industry makes you more authoritative.
Don’t rely on exact match keywords when choosing anchor text for your links. Although putting keywords in your links is a good SEO practice, having too many looks unnatural. As such, Google might consider it keyword stuffing, which will result in penalties for your site.
Also, take a moment to understand the structure of the website you are linking to. You need to find the most relevant internal page to the topic on your story and put its URL in your post instead of linking to the other company’s homepage unless you’re referring to the company as a whole.
You need to be mindful about having ‘bad’ links on your website. If you’ve used them in the past, make sure you disavow them since they will undoubtedly bring you penalizations. What’s more, Google will watch your link building even more closely once they’ve spotted bad links on your site.
Any actions that could have been excused as honest mistakes will likely be interpreted as you trying to “game” the system. Two types of links you should avoid at all costs are paid links and comment or forum spam. Here is a closer look at each of these and why using them is a bad idea.
Some people think that it’s sometimes okay to pay for links. Perhaps they buy or sell only to people they have known professionally for years. However, “small scale” is never as small as anyone thinks. For instance, suppose you have one website owner selling links to you. They are likely selling to others, who are in turn buying from other website owners as well. Besides, paying for links is generally against Google guidelines.
Note that Google says not all paid links are harmful. Advertisements, for example, don’t cause website rankings to go down. However, the key is to do proper attribution. Adding a nofollow or sponsored attribute to the link or redirecting to pages blocked from search engines should prevent you from getting penalized.
Although it’s easy to send links to your website to hundreds or thousands of forums and blog comment sections, it’ll be detrimental to your brand. People generally don’t enjoy seeing these kinds of links, and few people click on them anyway.
What’s more, comments sections and forums nofollow outbound links, so there will be little SEO benefit to spamming other sites. You also open yourself to the possibility of other site owners getting annoyed at you and reporting you to Google!
Link building will continue to be a significant ranking factor in the future. As such, you need to understand which practices will help your ranking and which ones will hurt it. It’s crucial to know what practices are highly valued today; you need to have a strategy when building links instead of just applying what people say will work.
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