Link Building Guide for 2019 [UPDATED 2023]
Link Building 2023 Update:
Significant changes in link-building practices and Google’s algorithmic impact on link-building from 2018 to 2023:
1. Focus on Quality and Relevance:
In recent years, Google has placed increased emphasis on the quality and relevance of backlinks.
Rather than focusing solely on the number of links, it has become crucial to prioritize obtaining high-quality links from authoritative and relevant websites.
Google’s algorithms have become more sophisticated in evaluating the context and intent behind link placements.
2. E-A-T and Authority:
Google’s E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) principle has gained prominence in assessing link quality.
Websites that demonstrate expertise and authority in their respective industries are more likely to earn valuable backlinks.
Building a strong brand reputation and cultivating relationships with industry influencers and thought leaders have become essential for acquiring authoritative links.
3. Natural Link Profiles:
Google now values natural link profiles that grow organically over time.
Artificial link-building schemes, such as link farms, paid links, and excessive reciprocal linking, are heavily penalised.
Link-building strategies should focus on earning links naturally through high-quality content, outreach, and relationship-building, rather than resorting to manipulative tactics.
4. User Experience Signals:
Google’s algorithmic updates have increasingly taken user experience signals into account when assessing link quality.
Factors such as click-through rates, bounce rates, and dwell time on a page are now considered in link evaluation.
This shift encourages link-building efforts to prioritize driving traffic and engagement, as well as providing value to users.
5. Link Diversity and Contextual Relevance:
A diverse link profile that includes different types of links (e.g., editorial links, guest posts, social media mentions) and a range of anchor text variations are favored by Google.
Contextual relevance has become critical, with links from websites and content that are topically aligned with the linked page carrying more weight.
6. Increased Importance of Brand Signals:
Google has recognized the significance of brand signals in evaluating website authority and link quality.
Building a strong brand presence, including mentions, citations, and brand-linked anchor texts, can positively impact link-building efforts.
Brand building and reputation management are now intertwined with successful link acquisition.
7. Core Algorithm Updates:
Google’s core algorithm updates, such as the Medic Update (August 2018) and the Page Experience Update (June 2021), have had a substantial impact on link-building practices.
These updates prioritize factors like website security, mobile-friendliness, page loading speed, and user engagement, indirectly influencing link-building strategies.
8. Rise of Niche and Local Link-building:
Targeted link-building efforts within specific niches or local communities have become more effective. Obtaining links from relevant local directories, industry-specific websites, and authoritative local sources can significantly enhance local SEO efforts.
9. Focus on Content Marketing and Digital PR:
Content marketing and digital PR have become integral to modern link-building strategies. Creating valuable, shareable content and leveraging outreach and relationship-building tactics to earn editorial placements and backlinks are now common practices.
It’s important to note that these trends and changes are based on industry observations and insights, as Google’s algorithms are proprietary and constantly evolving.
Staying updated with the latest algorithmic changes and industry best practices is essential for effective link-building in the current SEO landscape.
Link Building 2019
Original Article published: 01 April 20-19
Link Building is a process whereby hyperlinks from other websites link back to your website.
The main purpose of link building to a search engine is to discover new websites and to determine how websites rank in search engine results.
How would it feel if someone referred or recommended their family, friends, and contact list to your business?
It would feel good, even though it would depend on the source of the referred person.
What we mean by the source is that you would rather get a referral or recommendation from a trusted supplier, whose referred person is more likely to make a purchase, instead of a person that is referred by one of the always drunk uncles.
The source of these referrals and recommendations is just as important as the message you’re trying to put forward, which makes link-building one of the most important things when it comes to SEO.
This means that if you want to have more traffic coming to your website, backlinks are a great way to do it.
Using backlinks can be a challenge for the average business person since they lack the skills. Below are some of the things that they need to know in order to use backlinks efficiently:
- Understand the aspects of Digital Marketing
- Some basic knowledge of Programming
- Good Writers
This article is going to run you through the key areas of link building, for the average small business.
Understanding the Value of Link Building
Link building and Google rankings go hand in hand, being that links are what bring traffic to the website, and backlinks help Google to determine if other people are seeing value in your content. This means that backlinks are recognized in the Google algorithms that determine how your content ranks. This goes on to show how link-building is effective in bringing traffic to your business.
Identifying High–Quality Links
Getting quality links is the key focus here, and not the quantity. You will want to target a few quality links with higher probabilities of making sales, instead of having thousands of links with a close to zero chance of converting.
Page Authority predicts how well your website ranks in search engines. Take for instance that you own a sports website that links to a national source of sports news, chances are that your site will perform much better than a blogger that is still struggling to get exposure. Despite the fact that Google no longer uses PageRank, it still plays a major role in their algorithm. You can still check the page ranking by using Ahrefs, whereby you insert the URL and search. Some High ‘PageRating’ sites include:
- General Niche – www.ireport.cnn.com, www.buzzfeed.com, storeboard.com
- Business Niche – www.nationofchange.com, www.customerthink.com, www.biznik.com
- Blogging Niche – www.authorden.com, www.topofblogs.com, www.blogrollcenter.com
- Education Niche – www.edublogs.org, www.schoolrack.com, www.futureofeducation.com
- Health & Fitness Niche – www.ideafit.com, www.fruitnfood.com, www.medcheck-up.com
- Marketing Niche – www.moz.com, www.hubspot.com, www.crazyegg.com
- Real Estate Niche – www.trulla.com, www.realtown.com, www.realtyjoin.com
- Technology Niche – www.tech.co, www.techandtrends.com, www.e-junk.info
- Women’s & Fashion Niche – www.blogher.com, www.modernmom.com, www.girlsguideto.com
- Misc Niche – www.gameinformer.com, www.homeclick.com, www.legalhelp.org
One other way to check the quality of the link is through site authority. If the referring site has a higher domain rating, this will influence the site authority for your website. This is referred to as ‘DR’ on Ahrefs.
Site relevance is very important. This means that the backlinks that you get should be from relevant sites that are within the same industry. If you’re in the painting business, you would probably want a backlink from a property maintenance site, and not a site that deals with makeup, or link bank. A link bank is a site with thousands of URL’s listed and isn’t as relevant today as it was before.
Link Position on the Page
The location of the links in the webpage matter a lot. Links that appear in the first paragraph are more likely to be clicked as compared to those that are in the footer. This means that the links in footers and sidebars don’t have as much value as those at the top or main body of web pages.
An editorial link refers to a link coming from someone that has written something valuable about your products or services, on their website, since it is an advantage to their audience. However, if links that you don’t vouch for, or aren’t editorially placed, are placed on other websites, that could be a violation of Google guidelines.
Is Guest Posting bad?
Guest posting could actually be good for your business, depending on where the guest posts are being posted. If the groups or forums where the posts are being made are relevant to your business or industry, it could be a good way of getting backlinks to your site. As a matter of fact, if you were to join such forums or groups as a guest, contributing relevant content, your posts will become valuable to the readers, and they will link back to your website.
Anchor Text Links
The Anchor Text refers to the text within a message, that has a hyperlink attached to it. When dealing with anchor texts, one should focus less on rich anchor texts and instead target mixing the anchor texts, as this makes it look more natural in your website’s backlink profile. Below are some examples of anchor texts:
- Exact-match Links – exact match refers to where a keyword matches the page being linked, e.g. link building guide for 2019, linking to this article (page).
- Partial-match Links – is whereby the anchor text comes with a variation of the keyword on the target or linked to the page, e.g. link building experts, linking to this article (page).
- Branded Links – this is where the brand name is used as anchor text, e.g. Havoc Digital, linking to this article on the Havoc Digital blog.
- Naked link – this is where the URL is used as an anchor, e.g. www.havocdigital.co.
- Generic or Junk Links – this refers to generic words or phrases being used as anchor texts, e.g. click here.
- Image Links – this is whereby Google uses texts that are in the image’s alt attribute as the anchor text, whenever the images are clicked.
NoFollow vs Dofollow Links
As we have learned, not all the links created are the same, depending on the pages that they link to on websites. This makes some of them more important than others. I can guess you’re wondering what the difference between nofollow links and do-follow links is.
Nofollow links don’t allow search engines to follow the links using bots. Only human beings can follow bots. Dofollow links, on the other hand, allow all search engines to follow the links, meaning that they can backlink to websites. It is important to have both nofollow and do-follow links since you want to target all sorts of traffic, including that uncle of yours that is always drunk. Who knows, one of his referrals might convert.
Link Building – Assets
The content that links are attached to needs to be interesting, intriguing, and engaging to readers so that they want to find out more by clicking on the links to your website. This is what is referred to as link earning. It relies on the quality of the content that is aimed at specific targets. Remember, different targets need different target content in order to be effective. This is to mean that people tend to follow, engage and relate to what interests them the most.
It is very similar to television, whereby you’ll find people engaging with what interests them, whether it is cartoons, reality shows, animations, or any other form of television. This is the same way in which the content that you publish will be viewed by the target audience. This content is usually in the form of ASSETS, as listed below:
Link Building – Compiling Your Assets
It is important to have the following assets in your content if you wish to increase your engagement with the audience:
- Visual assets – visual assets include the following things: images; infographics; memes; videos; charts, tables, and lists
- Content research data – it is important to submit credible content, and this means researching and ensuring that you can back up anything you publish. Ensure that you publish facts that come with backup data by indicating the source of the information.
Build Powerful Links – Outreach
In order to grow your links, you need to reach out to other people, such as website owners, journalists, and bloggers, among other people. Give them quality content that can be published and linked back to your target website or landing page.
Putting your backlinks on authority websites such as the ones that we mentioned in Part 1 of the Link Building Guide for 2019, could either be practically impossible or very costly. One way of working around this is to figure out where your competitors source their backlinks and then get in touch with those site owners. You might want to do some competitor SEO research to figure out where they get their backlinks.
Link Building – Email Outreach
I’m sure that many of you have received emails and deleted them even before reading them. This is because these emails are usually sales pitches that aren’t personalized to you, or deal with topics that you have no interest in. When sending out emails to prospects, it is important to personalize them to both the individuals, and the subject matter. The content should be to the recipient’s advantage and interests.
Black Hat SEO Link Building
Black hat strategies are techniques that exploit the loopholes within Google and other search engine algorithms, so as to make websites rank higher. In the case of link building, the links are bought against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This means that your website ranking is at risk, and there is the risk of being completely removed from Google search results. When using black hat SEO link building, one still has to:
- Produce interesting and relevant content for the target audience, whether it is text, images, videos, infographics, or memes
- Identify websites related to your industry, product, or service, and approach the owners
- Publish and link the content successfully
Link Building – Algorithmic Penalty
Link building/ link earning are things that are hard, slow, and expensive, and there is the risk of the Google Penguin algorithm. When people overuse black hat SEO linking, otherwise known as over-optimization, the Google Penguin algorithm will flag and penalize their sites. Google penalties are every webmaster’s worst nightmare.
For more information on poor Link Building techniques read the article “Black Hat Techniques that can KILL your SEO“
Link Building – Manual Penalty
Aside from the Google Penguin algorithm, Google can manually review backlink profiles, and when penalized, they inform you via message to your Google Search Console. The advantage of a manual penalty over a Penguin algorithmic penalty is the fact that you use the Google Disavow Links Tool to disavow the links and then submit a reconsideration request. However, the best ways of avoiding any of these two penalties is by getting a backlink strategy that focuses on quality content, on relevant sites that link back to your site.
Link building could take years of research and practice to master, and the fact that the landscape is changing every day, could feel harder than climbing a mountain.
Havoc Digital has been researching and working with link building, adapting to the changes in the landscape, we use our knowledge and skills to help businesses become authorities in their niches.