If you work within SEO or familiar to the workings of Google, you will know that good back links to your website is one of the most important part of SEO. Despite what Google wants you to believe, links will be a important for years and years to come.
You will know that over optimised anchor text will impact on your rankings in a bad way. You will also know the damaging effects of links from spammy sites as well as directory listings and profile links from irrelevant sites to where your niches fits into. But the question everyone wants to know is “How to I get links that Google will adore?”
In this blog post I will explain to you the anatomy of a great link and a great link profile and give you ideas on how you can improve the link profile you already have.
Good links to your site is very important and I want to make you aware of just how important your link profile is when it comes to SEO and seeing your website ranking well in Google.
In 2013, the whole online world through Google’s eyes was hit with a number of updates to their algorithm. First was Penguin 2.0, then the launch of Hummingbird, and finally the announcement, just after the New Year, that social signals play no part in the search algorithm.
With all these changes from Google, where does that leave us with our link profiles? What the hell do we do now?
Well, despite all the updates and talk around links, Google has nothing better to go on to measure how popular a site is, than links. So in 2014 and for the foreseeable future, links are here to stay.
With years and years of me testing theories with regards to SEO and link building, and attending various round tables, consultation with other industry experts, and in-depth analysis of data over the past 3 years, I’ve have produced a visual representation of how vital links are to a website.
You only have to look at Moz’s list of ranking factors to see how important links are, but I’d like to point out that you need to obtain the right links. Links to a website accounts for the vast majority of a site’s ranking according to Google’s algorithm.
What do Google give out penalties for? Bad links within your link profile.
Why do they do that? Because they are trying to preserve their one and only effect way of knowing how popular a particular site is. Its their strongest signal, so thats why they are cracking down on spammy links that help to manipulate the SERPS.
So with this all in mind, we now know that a link profile is still VERY IMPORTANT.
Let’s ask ourselves a few questions to start with…
What makes a good back link profile?
How do I get kick ass links pointing to my site?
What Makes a Good Back Link Profile?
A good link profile is not just about how many backlinks you have pointing to your site.
It’s about the quality and relevance of the links that point to your site. Any good SEO will tell you this and that these factors are what makes real rankings happen. Your site will go nowhere without them.
A good link profile is one that deserves a round of applause from every SEO that is snooping around your link profile trying to figure out how the hell you did that!
A good link profile , you can’t simply pore over the backlinks and neglect the larger picture of what’s going on with your link profile. A link profile is more than just backlinks.
Stated another way, backlinks are just one component of the link profile. There is a deeper complexity to the backlink discussion.
So, let’s go through several other things that affect a link profile. What follows is a discussion of the features that characterize a healthy link profile. This is not an exhaustive list.
Big Idea: a good link profile has lots of high authority links and no spammy links.
In other words, there are two overarching qualities to a good link profile:
– Lots of high value, high DA, and high authority linkbacks.
– No spammy backlinks.
You already knew that. I want to go further and explain some of the less obvious features of a good link profile.
Branded anchor text
When you break down the importance level of the different elements that affect a website’s ranking, it looks like this:
– Most important factor in a website ranking: Link profile.
– Most important aspect of a link profile: Quality of backlinks.
– Most important quality aspect of backlinks: Anchor text.
– Most important quality of anchor text: Diversity.
Google wants to see in a link profile anchors that display diversity in the form of branded anchor texts and diluted anchor text.
A branded anchor text is one in which the anchor includes the brand name of the company.
For example, if your company is DesignerDoggz, then a branded anchor would be “Designer Doggz,” and it would go to your URL.
Branded anchors may also be diluted or combined with keywords.
Diluted: “This site, Designer Doggz, creates wonderful things for dogs, or DesignerDoggz, is an innovative designer of dog accessories”
Combined with keywords: “One device, DesignerDoggz is a website that sells designer dog accessories , that will make your dog look a million bucks!.”
A good link profile can contain a large percentage of such anchors. In some cases, this percentage might be as high as 20% of total anchor texts without any damage being done to the site’s link profile.
Diversified Anchor Text
In a post penguin era, it is important to mix up your anchors. Dilute it with non optimised anchors, branded and non-branded. Combine branded anchor with other words or phrases. Most healthy link profiles have a lot of branded links, followed by a mix of branded + phrase or just anchors like “Click Here” “Website” and other random words. This is essential to good link building practices.
Since 2013, optimized anchor texts are bad. Diluted anchor texts, such as the ones mentioned above are good to have and should be the main bulk of your link anchors.
When I say diluted anchor text, I mean links that has lots of words, some related and some not, within the anchor text of the link.
I want to show you an example so you know what I’m talking about.
So our innovative new Dog Lead designer, who sells these leads on his own online store, wants to rank for keywords like innovative dog leads, designer dog leads etc.
A very good diluted anchor text linking to his site would look something like this:
“Want you and your dog to look good walking in the park?
Then check out this site for some amazingly designed dog accessories.”
(Underlined portion is the anchor text.)
There’s a whole lot of anchor text in that sentence and it doesn’t contain any keywords and no branding in there. But that’s cool. The dilution of the anchor text and the lack of optimisation makes it a valuable link to have in the link profile and one that looks natural.
Forget optimised anchors and go for dilution and randomness.
Anchor Text That is Semantically Relevant
One type of anchor text that is used in ranking factors are “semantically relevant anchors”
What do you mean by “Semantically Relevancy”
For a while now, Google have been serving up results that may not hold the target keyword you just searched for, but they show sites that have relevance to that keyword in a different way. This is called Google’s semantically related keywords. The content on the site doesn’t have to contain the keywords, so long as the content on the website is similar to the keywords that are used in the query.
When you have in your link profile anchors that use such semantically similar keywords, this helps to enrich and diversify the profile.
This is what a semantically relevant anchor looks like:
1. Let’s say your target keyword is: “retractable dog leads”
2. Your semantically relevant anchor text is: “adjustable pet leads”
Your website may sell “Retractable Dog Leads” and a pet care blog then links to this page, using the anchor “easy to use adjustable dog leads.” This type of semantically relevant anchor text can help increase the quality and effectiveness of your link profile.
Linking Site Has to Be Relevant
A great link profile has links pointing to it from sites with a similar topic area as your site. So if you own a Double Glazing Window business and you get a link from a Food blog, this link will do you no good in terms of power to your link profile. But a link from a property developing blog would be more relevant and hold more authority than the previous link just mentioned.
You should aim to get links from within your niche. Relevance of links plays a big part in ranking factors, so go out there and attract links from sites that have something in common with what your site does, or offers.
This component is also known as local/topic-specific popularity. This algorithmic feature was initially developed by Teoma, which now is integrated into Ask.com. It is now a standard part of virtually every search engine’s algorithm.
A link that is relevant to your site is worth it’s weight in gold. You have a dog walking business and you have a link on a pet blog. That’s relevancy. But this whole relevancy thing goes a little bit deeper. A healthy link profile has links with a relevant content, surrounding the anchor text. It’s not just about the link and what type of website it is on. Google look for what keywords lie around the text.
Let’s say that your dog walking business got a link from a site about how to look after pets.
The link comes from an article called:
“What to do if you own a pet but have to work all day?”
and the link is in the third paragraph in a sentence talking about pet day care options to the working pet owner. Your link is slap bam in the middle of a relevant discussion on looking after pets and your business is mentioned with a branded anchor text link. This my friend is a great link and one that will be viewed by Google as a thumbs up!
When a sending link has a surrounding discussion that is closely related to your niche, this increases the value of that link to your profile. A good neighbourhood of keywords and discussions around your link is probably something that you can’t control, but one that occurs naturally.
Fresh As A Daisy Links
There is evidence to suggest that fresh links are better than old links. A link from a DA 95 website that was linked out to your site back in 1998, will not hold as much value as a DA65 link that you earned last week. The power of links decline over the years, so it’s important to keep attracting new links to your link profile.
SEOs have named this phenomenon as the Google Freshness Factor.
It makes sense. Content can age and get stale and becomes less important, because updates have come about which adds even more value to the old content. It’s just like evolution. As the years go by, we as the Human race get more advanced in our thinking, technology etc.
The same applies to content. So old links that links out to old content, become less relevant as time goes on.
The fresher the link, the more value it adds to your link profile. So, it’s important to update old content. Any old white papers that you wrote on your niche 6 years ago, look to update and republish.
You Don’t Have to Have a Link on A Site – Co-citation and co-occurrence
Co-citation is when you have a branded mention on a site without a link. The great thing about this is that is does register in the taxonomy of your link profile.
A mention of your website, brand etc on the New York Times website, would pass value, even if there is no link with no anchor. Value is passed from one site to the other. For more information on this check out this awesome article on Co-citations.
Value is also passed with additional co-citation authority when they contain contextual keywords and contextual links to high authority sites. Let’s say that you receive a link from a site, and that site, in turn, is mentioned in co-occurrence by a high-value site. This one-step-removed co-citation may actually improve the value of the link to your site.
Also, having a keyword related to what your website is about, near to the mention, will also pass value to your site. For example: Your site ( a dog walking business ) was mentioned in the New York Times within an article about the benefits of owning a dog. Bingo!
Getting a link from a high value, high authority website, is like a massive trust signal to Google. If an authoritative site is linking to you, then you must be authoritative and trustworthy too! This gives incredible value to your site in terms of authority and clout on the SERPs.
For this links to be a powerhouse on your link profile, it must be a followed link rather than a nofollow link. Don’t get me wrong, nofollow links still have some value, but not when it comes to your link profile.
So when Google crawls the internet and comes across a link to your site with the nofollow tag, this is what Google does:
In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links. Essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web.
It’s really simple to find out if a link is follow or nofollow by right clicking your mouse, selecting view source and looking for the nofollow tag within the link’s href tag.
Or you can download an extension like Chrome NoFollow checker
or this one for firefox.
Links to Deep Pages
A good distribution of links to a site is a clear indicator of trust when it comes to Google crawling your site and setting it a level of prominence on their search results. A natural link profile has many links pointing to pages deep within the site map of a website. Links to articles written on their blog, or a funny infographic released a few months back etc etc.
Don’t just build links to your homepage. Create stuff within to attract links to other parts of the site. Good distribution of links is key to a great inbound link profile.
The deeper the link, the more valuable it is to your link profile.
Most sites have the majority of their links pointing to the homepage – which is the first level in the pyramid of your website.
This can be a bad thing though, as an over-saturation of links pointing to a homepage will not hold as much valuable as when those links are spread out by a number of other links going to deep internal pages on the website.
It’s really important that the deep internal pages are strengthened with backlinks. When they receive such backlinks, they enhance the authority of the site as a whole.
Having a strong content marketing strategy give you the chance of building such links. Content lives on pages that are deep within a site’s structure, providing linkable value for those internal pages.
Paid Links Are Shit
In the eyes of Google, paid links are just spam. People buy links in order to manipulate the SERPs and pagerank. This is against Google’s guidelines and you will be penalised if your link profile has many of these types of links.
If you have to pay for a link, a infographic placement on a site, a guest post or anything that requires you to pay a webmaster money to place a link back to you site from theres, is a paid link. Stay away from sites that actively advertise paid link placements or paid guest posts, as these site will normally be on Google’s blacklist of sites anyway.
The Amount of Links To A Page
Lots of good links to a page is great for SEO. A healthy and proper link profile is one that has lots of natural links pointing to various pages of the site, and not just the homepage.
Ideally you would want as many links from as many domains as possible. If you have 1 link from mashable.com, it’s the same as having 250 links from Mashable.com, so remember this when building your links. Google will see 1 link from a site the same way as it sees 250 links from the same site.
Lots of links from the same site is good, but for different reasons than SEO. This is more about building authority on another site. If that site that you have 250 links on is high in traffic and you’re all over it, then no doubt you will be writing on there to attract traffic to your site, rather than the SEO value of those links. 1 link is = to 200, 300 etc links on the same domain.
It won’t hurt to have multiple links on the same site, it just won’t help you in terms of a boost in rankings.
No Shitty Links
Incredible link profiles do not contain shitty links. A great link profile has a no spammy directory links, no spammy profile links from site unrelated to their niche, no article directories and no comment spam. It’s well known in the SEO arena that these link building practices are harmful and dangerous to your online visibility.
Head of WebSpam at Google, Matt Cutts, said recently that we should not be using article directories and spammy directories to build links. So why do some many SEO firms still actively do this?
5 years ago within SEO, it was so simple to spin 50 articles on an article directory site and get some powerful links back and a nice SEO boost. In 2014, this tactic is just a no no.
So if your business website has any of these links, get them removed. Take a look at my article here to see how you can remove links and thrive in the online world.
So at the start of this post you may have been asking “How do I get a great link profile?”
Well now that you know the aspects and features of a great natural link profile, you should have a better understanding of how you are going to get these amazing links.
Ultimately you have to do well at all areas of content marketing in order to attract the links you need to power up your rankings.
If you have a solid content marketing strategy and outreach for links strategy, then the link will come. No doubt about that. I’ve seen it so many times before.
Making your link hard to replicate is the aim of the game, and you will only do this by creating awesome content that attracts those types of links. Not only that, but these links will be stronger, healthier, and more reputable than you could ever get from doing shitty link building strategies with full of bullshit agencies that are still stuck in 2007.
In today’s online world, SEO and content marketing go hand in hand and it’s a very powerful and transformative way of doing it.
Link building is more than just asking someone for a link or sending out 1000 outreach emails. Its about earning that link by creation of something highly linkable and highly shareable. If you master this, then the world is your never ending link stream.