When it comes to organic search engine traffic, building backlinks is still the name of the game and don’t trust anyone who tells you otherwise.
Backlinks are what made Google the game changer in internet search—it ranks pages in search results depending on how many other pages are linking to it—i.e., its backlinks.
In 2012 Google created major updates to its search algorithm, the notorious Penguin and Panda patches. These updates centred squarely on how its algorithms interpreted backlinks.
The result of these changes is that today backlinks are as important as they have ever been in organic search results and they will continue to be so in the future.
The technology we offer is cutting edge and evolves daily to make sure all the backlinks we create comply with Google’s strict standards.
Our team of developers experiment extensively with different types of backlinks as well as different combinations and builds them at different speeds to ensure our customers are only served with links that work.
We can do this because we have a dedicated team that backward engineers Google’s search algorithm to understand its latest thinking on search.
To help you understand it better too, we have created a 5-day course that covers everything you need to know about building backlinks in a safe and effective way.
This strategy will be the single most important thing you will learn in off-page SEO and is complimentary to our on-page guide which you can download [here].
To receive this 5-day course, simply click the link below and sign-up with your email address. We will then send you the course direct to your inbox over 5 days covering every single aspect of an effective backlink strategy.
- On Day 1 you will learn The fundamentals of backlinks.
- Day 2 will teach you how to Create a safe and effective backlinking strategy.
- The lesson in Day 3 you will perform a complete Backlink analysis.
- By Day 4, you will finally start Building your backlinks.
- You will conclude Day 5 with a course on Managing your backlinks.
We have automated the entire process so you can concentrate on what you’re best at, building killer websites with killer content.
If you want to learn how we do what we do, sign up for our 5-day off-page backlinks course here: [SIGN UP HERE].
Day 1 – The fundamentals of Backlinks
Welcome to the first day of your intense 5-day course into backlinks. Knowing how to use backlinks effectively requires you to have an understanding of what they are and how search engines interpret them.
Today we will learn the most important terms you need to know before you get started. We will also dive into the different types of backlinks you can acquire so you can start devising your own strategy by the time we get to Day 2.
Anatomy of a backlink
In its simplest terms, a backlink is a markup in HTML code that contains a URL and an anchor text. In coding terms, it appears like this:
<a href=” http://searcheye.io”>SearchEye</a>
This is a link that, when clicked on a webpage, will direct a user to the SearchEye™ site.
Search engines, such as Google, rank a website based on the number of these backlinks pointing to a site across the internet.
It uses tons of data and coding to dissect the backlinks and rank the pages they point to. Apart from anchor text variations, this data includes the rank of linking websites and HTML tags, such as do follow and no follow; how the backlinks have been created and their relevance to the page.
Keywords are what you are aiming to rank your site for in search engines and anchor text is how search engines determine what keywords to rank a site.
When you create a backlink, you rarely see the full naked URLs as the clickable text. Instead you see a keyword relating to that site which will be the anchor text.
Google and other search engines know that ranking keywords based on the amount of times that anchor text is used has led to extensive manipulation. They also know that natural links don’t overuse the same anchor text on every site and if they notice that, they know some over-eager marketer is trying to game the system.
In other words, you need to turn down your use of exact-match keyword anchor text as much as possible. Using anything more than 5% of your anchor texts with a specific keyword, unless it’s your brand, will likely result in a penalty.
To avoid this, you need to learn more about the types of anchor texts you will be using. This is explained in the table below:
|Common types of anchor|
|Brand name anchor||These types of anchors use the whole or part of a websites name or a company’s brand. These are the most common types of anchor you will see for a website and will be the least likely to result in a penalty.|
|Location anchor||These types of anchors will include the name of a place and are used extensively by search users. For example, Houston Law Firm would be a location anchor because of the word “Houston”. Plastic Surgeon Chicago is also a location anchor because of the word “Chicago”. These anchors sought after because they demonstrate an internet search user’s intent to find a specific business in a specific area. However, these are also the most unnatural looking anchors and quickly result in penalty.|
|Commercial/Keyword optimized anchor||These types of anchors demonstrate a commercial intent and/or are associated with keywords that you would only see in a search engine. For example, “buy turntables online” is a keyword only a user looking to buy a certain product would enter into a search engine. Or “best turntable reviews” is a combination of words that you would only see someone typing into a search engine to find certain results. Because they don’t read naturally in normal text, they are easy to spot as manipulated and should be used sparingly.|
|Generic anchor||These types of anchor text are commonly used throughout the internet and don’t refer to a specific brand, or any commercial intent. An example of a generic anchor would include “click here”, “find out more” or “this website”. Generic anchors tend to induce readers to click off the page and can be hard to make look natural unless the final link is related to the text.|
|Natural anchor||These are the easiest types of anchor text to create and can be inserted in any article on any word that reads naturally in English and does not interfere with the flow of the text. But because they tend to just be common words, natural anchor text rarely relate to a specific search engine keyword and are the least targeted of all anchor texts.|
Google’s earliest algorithms ranked websites on a scale of 0-10 based on the sites linking to it. It would then look at those linking sites and give them a rating based on the sites linking to them.
Essentially it meant when a site had a PR of 10, any link from it to your site would give you a huge ranking boost (think of the likes of Facebook or BBC as examples of sites with PR 10). Conversely, new sites or sites that are ignored by other pages on the internet, score closer to PR 0, meaning a link from that site would be of little use to you.
This metric used to be open to the public, but since Google discovered people selling links on high PR, thereby gaming its system, it no longer makes the PR of a page public, if it still uses the system at all.
With the demise of PR, lots of online tools have come up that help you guess what the PR of a site could be so you can consider getting your links from them.
These services have come up with their own metrics, variously called “Domain Authority” (DA) “Trust Factor” (TF) and “URL Rating” (UR) (among many).
These vary wildly in accuracy and usefulness, so it is expedient to use a combination of all three when assessing whether a site is worth giving you a link.
Currently SEMrush has one of the most comprehensive toolsets for examining a website and giving you a clear idea of its domain power. Its SEMrush rank is a proprietary technique for ranking domains based on how much traffic they are getting from organic searches. The ranking is based on monthly data from the SEMrush database and can be pulled from any of its vast regional databases. This is a close to the old PR approximation as you’ll get.
Do Follow and No Follow
The backlinks you acquire are broadly divided into two categories—Do Follow and No Follow. These are essentially tags that are inserted in the HTML code of your website, wherever the link is placed.
In HTML code, your backlink code will look like this: <a href=”https://searcheye.io” rel=”nofollow”>SearchEye</a>. The item between the two brackets <> is the tag. The no follow tag is inside the code for the backlink as “rel=nofollow”.
If there is no “no follow” tag, then you can assume your backlink is do follow. That’s all you need to know in technical terms.
In marketing terms, a do follow tag basically tells search engines that the website the link is on trusts the site and would like it to be considered when assessing search ranking. Conversely, a no follow tag means that search engines will not count that backlink towards ranking your site.
However, that doesn’t mean no follow links are useless, because they can be very effective for marketing purposes and brand recognition. They could also lead to the sharing of your backlink by other users who click on it.
This colourful phrase is industry jargon for the power and prestige of a site and illustrates its finite quality.
The link “juice” flows through a site and into the sites it is linking to on its page. When that site in turn links to another site, it will pass more of the same juice down the tier.
The phrase illustrates the finite quality of a site’s authority and the more backlinks it has on a page, the more of its link juice is being leaked away from its own site onto the sites in the backlinks. It is thereby losing link power.
One way sites have used to stop link juice from leaking out of its page is to use no follow tags. This process is known as link sculpting and tells search engines not to use that link in calculating a page’s overall rank and, thereby, preserving its link juice for other links.
Three types of off-page SEO
When you begin the process of building backlinks, you are manipulating search engine results and the search engines don’t like this.
With that in mind, search marketers have come up with three terms that define how a link has been created and whether a website is likely to receive a penalty for employing these tactics.
But don’t get caught up in the particulars; these categories often bleed and blend into each other so you are often doing something of all of them when you purposefully build backlinks to boost your search engine results.
White Hat link building is the safest of the three backlink building strategies and forms the core of what we practice.
These are the safest because they are naturally acquired by publishing high quality content on authority websites that link back to you. Because these links are published on real websites, with a real audience, they are the most difficult to manipulate.
Remember when we talked about the “blending” of boundaries when it comes to the different categories? This middle category tries to do just that with a little bit of both white and black hat thrown into the mix.
In the past, this has meant building a network of “dummy sites” linking to your main site in order to promote it. Sometimes referred to as “private blog networks” (PBNs), this tactic involves searching online auctions for domains that have huge authority but have otherwise expired and creating dummy content on them, just to make them look like real sites.
When you have a network of these sites and they all point to your main site, the theory goes, then you will confer a search ranking boost to your main site.
This tactic has become prohibitively expensive and the time involved in building a real PBN makes it unmanageable. What’s more, Google and the like have quickly caught on and they deindex these sites on a regular basis.
Typically, black hat tactics will involve spamming your links all over the internet, whenever feasibly possible. This used to be a way to reach the top of Google and many software tools have been developed to automate the process for you.
Links that are easy to get and can be automated by software are worth very little. In some cases, combined with a gray hat approach, you may find a small bump to your PBN sites, but this is not a long term strategy you should consider employing.
On the first day of this course, we have introduced you to key concepts that you will employ in your backlinking strategy. These include the types of anchor text you will use with your backlinks as well as how they are created.
This foundational knowledge will not only help you create backlinks that are the most powerful for search results but will also help you avoid penalties.
Tomorrow, we will go more in depth to look at the current SEO landscape and explore what makes a good backlink and what makes a bad one. This is a vital step in understanding how to plan your backlink strategy and will help you avoid penalties that could destroy your website’s rankings.
Day 2 – Create a safe and effective backlinking strategy
As search engines have evolved, they have begun to employ an increasingly sophisticated array of metrics to determine your website’s ranking, with any one or more factors affecting where you appear in search results. Some of these factors include the following:
- The metrics of the page linking to you and the pages you’re linking to.
- The number of websites linking to your domain.
- The number of websites linking to a page on your domain.
- The total number of pages linking to your domain or page.
- The number of times a user clicks through to your link in the search results.
- The extent of social signals on your page.
- The age of your domain.
- The number/time (link velocity) at which your links have been created
Just by listing these metrics here you can see how they could be manipulated. This is one of the reasons why Google has started giving more weight to the overall power of the domain of a site than the rank of an individual page on that site.
This goes against the principle of ranking pages rather than sites and conversely there has been a reduction in quality of search results. However, it has also led to a reduction in spammer activity as domain metrics are much harder to manipulate than individual pages.
Different types of links
Links exist in many forms on the internet and whether search engines give any value to a link depends on the type of link it is. These include: blog comments, forum posts, contextual editorial backlinks (the kind SearchEye™ excels at), sidebar and footer links, web 2.0 properties and social bookmarks.
The value of these links varies greatly. Anyone can place a comment on a blog and get a link for free with little effort.
The rule is, the easier the link is to get, the less value it will have.
For instance, a backlink on a contextually relevant editorial article will have much more power than a link in the signature of your forum profile—the latter of which has next to no value because they are easy to obtain.
The Penguin and the Panda
Google’s updates to its algorithms in 2012, referred to as the Penguin and Panda updates, were a game changer. They ruined entire businesses and raised the bar for entry to newcomers prohibitively high.
These updates specifically targeted spammy link building techniques and since then, off-page SEO has become much more closely related to traditional marketing—which is more difficult for the average user to do and a more rewarding approach for you if you play it right.
The speed at which you build links is of upmost importance and can be the difference between you ranking for a keyword or getting penalized by Google (and disappearing off its index altogether).
It is perfectly acceptable, and normal, when you create a site, that backlinks will appear on your social media profile. If you start creating hundreds of profiles with your backlink, and post content all over the place with the same backlink using the same profile, then the link velocity will look completely unnatural and could be considered spam by search engines.
Search algorithms look for spikes in the amount of links that appear on the internet to your site. These stick out and will draw further scrutiny from Google’s manual reviewers. The only exception is when social media posts go viral and algorithms have some degree of ability to determine a truly viral post from one that has been manipulated.
In general, slow and steady should be the name of the game. Keep your link building natural and organic as much as possible and don’t build too many links too quickly.
Refine your site architecture
Increasing the power of your links means increasing the power of your sites’ domain overall. Both will need to happen simultaneously and getting your site’s architecture down is one way to achieve this.
For this purpose, we recommend using a “reverse silo” system. This requires extensive internal linking and relies on the fact that the most linkable pages on your website are your inner-page blog posts. These pages will then link to your homepage and subpages, such as product page or category page, driving the acquired link juice throughout your site.
To do this correctly, you need content-centric approach, because content pages are much easier to acquire backlinks and from there you can use internal links to your sales page. This is the best, and easiest way to grow the authority of your site and its domain name.
Therefore, before you even begin backlinking, you need to create high quality, linkable content on your site and use these “linkable assets” (be they infographics, videos or blog articles) to spread your backlinks throughout the internet.
We have identified at least 5 metrics that search engines use to identify a quality backlink. Use these as a rough guide when you come to implement your backlink strategy.
Your attempts to acquire backlinks should begin with a list of the most relevant websites.
However, getting relevant backlinks for everyone of your backlinks is extremely unrealistic and is fraught with danger. There are only a limited number of 100% relevant websites and so you will inevitably go down the pyramid of looking for websites with a changing degree of relevance.
One effective way of using this scarcity to your advantage is to focus your targeted, longtail keywords at the 100% relevancy sites and your more general keywords at the lower tiers.
A backlink from an authority sites means you are getting a backlink from a quality website that is respected by knowledgeable people in an industry.
Authority websites will only publish trustworthy content and link to other trustworthy pages on the internet. These types of websites are usually centred on one core topic and they are extremely difficult to get a link on.
To understand the quality of the website, you need to understand its own backlink profile. That means running an analysis of where that website’s backlinks are coming from. Using a tool like SEMrush could help you do a complete link analysis and learn whether any backlinks going to your target site are toxic.
Other tools you can use to conduct a full link analysis include Ahref, Moz and Majestic; all of which have stellar link analysis tools and come with a paid monthly subscription.
We will teach you how to properly do a link analysis in Day 3, but for now, understand that we are looking for backlinks that come from known toxic sources, specifically spam sites, sites in a language totally unrelated to your target URL (Russian and Chinese sites are notorious) or sites relating to pharmaceutical, adult or gambling product.
There are other criteria, but it we will go in depth into those on the third day.
If your intention is to get backlinks on websites that will drive traffic to your website, then you’re already ahead of the game. That traffic will not only increase the value of your website, but it will also present more opportunities for backlinks as visitors to your site begin to share your content.
With that in mind, you should look at the traffic that your target website generates and try and build backlinks on those with the biggest monthly visitors. This won’t necessarily get you lots of referral traffic, but it is a good standard to have in your backlinking operations.
- Editorial standards
We take great pride in presenting you with websites that have the highest editorial guidelines. That’s because these websites are incredibly difficult to land backlinks. They only publish the highest quality articles written by the most qualified writers and all the links have to be relevant and appear completely natural.
The rule of thumb when it comes to backlinks is that the easier the link is to get, the less valuable it is for ranking. Focus on websites that have high editorial standards and you will ensure you will get links your competitors can only dream of.
Backlinks that are harmful
As much as there are quality signals that you need to look out for when creating your backlinks, there are also toxic signals that you need to avoid. We’ll go in depth in these on Day 3 but for now, there are 4 types of harmful backlinks that have, unfortunately, become all too familiar in the SEO world.
These are the types of backlinks that will get you a penalty on your website the quickest and see it disappear off the search results altogether. Avoid them at all costs, just like we do.
- Private Blog Networks
So-called PBNs have become the mainstay of the SEO world for much too long and it’s sad to see that some digital marketers continue to push these as a viable means of building backlinks.
Marketers buy expired domains with high search metrics and completely relaunch them to serve their backlinks.
If you go on buying these types of links on internet forums and Facebook groups, you are automatically violating the first principle of PBNs—these are not private! As soon as marketers begin advertising them, they become public.
Google has been smashing these “public” networks from the moment of inception. The only true way to do a PBN is to buy your own domains and set up your own sites. But Google is extremely savvy, and the only way to have a viable to PBN is to have so many sites in your network, only producing real content and generating real traffic, that the cost/benefit of these makes them worthless.
- Blog comments
Blog commenting has been a defunct way of building backlinks since the Penguin update. Not only do they get nuked by blog owners regularly, making them a waste of time, they also attract large amounts of irrelevant links going to “bad neighbourhoods” (such as adult, gambling and pharmaceuticals).
You want to avoid having your backlinks on these platforms otherwise you will be harming your rankings.
- Sidebar and footer links
Links that appear on the side of a website or in the footer are treated like normal backlinks and can have some relevance.
However, they tend to stick out to Google as standalone links, and not contextual, and that is something Google increasingly frowns on.
Problems occur when vendors start to sell footer and sidebar links, which is a temptation for any site that has any value. As more and more irrelevant links appear in the sidebar or footer, next to yours, the value of your link just goes down.
What’s more, having your link, with an optimized anchor text, appear on every page of a website can quickly lead to overoptimization issues, because the same anchor text is used too many times. This can cause penalties for your site.
- Automated backlinks
In the dark early days of the internet, a number of link building platforms emerged to spam the internet with countless useless spam. Software like SENuke, Ultimate Demon and GSA used bots to scrape the internet and plaster backlinks on every blog comment, forum, web 2.0, social bookmark and any other site you can think of.
These links are toxic and should be avoided like the plague. The fact that these bits of software still exist is testament to the sad state of the SEO industry. Do not touch automated backlinks.
On Day 2 you have expanded on the knowledge of backlinks you learned on the first day with an understanding of how these backlinks are created and what the search engines are looking for when penalising nefarious link building tactics.
You have learnt about the signals of a quality backlink and at the same time, learnt what types of backlinks you should avoid because they will get you a penalty.
Tomorrow, we will take this knowledge and show you how to do an audit of your current backlinks and how to begin planning to optimize them to transform your off-page SEO into one that works.
If you’re ready to skip ahead and have your backlinking fully auatomate, now and sign up to access our huge database of websites. These are handpicked, high authority and niche relevant websites you can start building a killer backlink profile all taken care of by us and our expert team.
Day 3 – Backlink analysis
Before you begin implementing your link building strategy, it’s wise to conduct a backlink audit. Often called a link profile, this audit will analyze how good, or bad, the links pointing to your site are. It will help you identify weaknesses and come up with a plan to target relevant websites.
More than that, a link audit will reveal any risky links and size-up a competitor, which is an essential step in dominating any niche.
Broadly speaking, a link audit will help you categorize your backlinks as either “Good Backlinks” which help improve your rankings and “Bad Backlinks” which will hurt them.
Today’s course will explain how to perform a detailed backlink audit and implement steps to improve your link profile even before you begin building backlinks proper.
Find your backlinks
If your website has been around for a while, then you have probably accrued many backlinks. These may have been created by yourself, by people who’ve shared your content on social media, or by any SEO agencies or consultants you may have hired.
In the worst case scenario, one of your competitors might have conduced “negative SEO” on your domain, whereby they flood the internet with spammy backlinks pointing to your site in an effort to destroy your rankings.
In all these scenarios you will want to conduct a proper link analysis. For that you will need to use two tools, Google’s Webmaster Console and SEMrush’s Backlink Management Multi-Tool. While Google’s Webmaster Console is a good way of finding every single link on the internet pointing towards your domain, and download that file as a CSV in minutes, SEMrush provides a much more powerful tool.
SEMrush Backlink Management Multi-Tool covers the full cycle of your backlink workflow and is the most effective tool we currently use.
SEMrush account starts at $99/month and is well worth it simply for the power it gives you in analyzing your backlinks. If you’re not convinced, you can sign up to a 7-day trial by following the link here.
Once signed up you can enter your domain in its Backlinks report and “Start backlink audit.” This can take as little as a few minutes or as much as a day depending on how many incoming links you have.
Identify toxic links
Once SEMrush is done crawling your backlinks, it will present a full report of your backlinks that will be split into three broad categories:
- Non-toxic: these are links from high quality, legitimate websites.
- Toxic: these are links from spammy websites which could potentially hurt your rankings.
- Potentially toxic: this category skirts between the previous too and could damage your website. You may have to go through these individually before deciding what to keep and what to remove.
You can download the entire list as a CSV file and import into an Excel spreadsheet for later. SEMrush uses around 30 metrics to identify toxic links which include:
- Spam in communities: These are blog comments that Google Webmaster Guidelines has said are a red flag to its search engine.
- Irrelevant source: These are your links published on websites that have nothing at all to do with your niche. Niche irrelevancy is a huge no-no as far as Google is concerned.
- Link networks: The aforementioned PBNs area easy to spot and are detrimental to your link building strategy. SEMrush uses AdsSense, IP lookup and “who is” data, among others, to identify link networks.
- Manipulative links: These are links published on known link farms that get paid to publish backlinks, including those web directories with a huge number of backlinks.
- Harmful environment: Theses tend to be malicious domains that have already been de-indexed by Google and could be harmful to your website if they contain your backlink.
- Links from low quality sites with no original content: These include sites that have duplicate pages or are otherwise thin on content but heavy on backlinks.
- Broken websites: Sites such as these are full of adverts and popups with little to no original content and do not look like legitimate websites.
- Sites that are in violation of Google Webmaster quality guidelines: Automatically a red flag, your links should not appear on sites that have been penalised.
In collating its toxic backlink data, SEMrush will filter out “no follow” links and dead links. Neither type of link will harm your backlinks profile and sometimes disavowing a dead link, i.e., one that points to a 403, 404, 410 or 503 page, can negatively impact your link audit.
Disavow bad backlinks
Your next step in your link auditing process, is to disavow the bad backlinks that would be hurting your website.
If you’re using SEMrush, you should have exported a CVS file containing all your good links and bad links so they should be easy to spot. This will help you prepare a disavow file which you will manually submit to Google using Google’s Webmaster Console.
The disavow file explicitly tells Google not to count the links it contains when measuring your search engine ranking. This will remove the spammy links and improve your link profile overall.
However, Google does recommend emailing the offending website first and asking them politely to remove your backlinks. This will remove your backlink completely from the internet and prevent them being accidentally crawled in the future.
If this fails, by uploading a disavow file to the Google Webmaster Console, you can clean up all your spammy backlinks in one go.
Reclaim dead backlinks
You know all those dead backlinks you found earlier? While not necessarily detrimental to your overall search rank, having all your backlinks pointing to actual pages on your website, and not just 404 errors, can greatly improve your overall link profile.
There are two main ways of reclaiming dead backlinks. One is to set up a 301 redirect for the broken URL. This is basically done in your website’s control panel which redirects all traffic going to one page of your site, the broken page, to another working page.
Google has stated that 301 redirects pass link juice from that backlink to your new page, so this is an effective strategy.
However, you would be better fully resolving the backlink first, by emailing the website that has your broken link on and asking them to change it to a functioning page on your site. Let them know that a broken backlink hurts their user experience as well as their SEO, so fixing your link is a win-win for both of you.
Day 3 has been pretty intense and could take you hours of work. Doing a link audit, especially if you have a huge site isn’t easy and it’s the reason why SEO consultants can charge thousands of dollars to do it for you.
But this is an ongoing process and it is one you should monitor regularly. Once you have done the initial audit and disavowed bad links, it should take a lot less work to stay on top of them.
In Day 4 we will begin looking at creating backlinks that are relevant and will pass on effective link juice to your domain. It is a process SearchEye™ specializes in and has a dedicated service to enhance your own link building efforts.
If you want to jump the queue and begin building effective, high authority backlinks to your website, head over to SearchEye™ now and sign up to use our service. To learn how we approach link building for our users, stay tuned for tomorrow’s lesson.
Day 4—Building your backlinks
The last three days have covered a lot of ground and laid the foundations necessary for some really aggressive link building.
You have learnt how to build links naturally, without drawing suspicion, and learnt what to look out for in obtaining powerful backlinks.
Day 4 will get into the meat of the backlinks process and guide you into undertaking effective off-page SEO.
Becoming a community figure
The most natural way to start building backlinks, and the safest in terms of your initial steps, is to become a known figure in your industry or niche. This process involves creating social media profiles as well as joining forums, groups and communities across the internet.
You will then use these profiles to not only engage other members, who will begin naturally sharing your backlinks over time, but to start posting your backlinks yourself.
However, the initial idea is not to start spamming the internet with backlinks on these platforms. That kind of approach will easily get noticed and lead you to getting banned.
Instead, you will look to increase your presence on the internet naturally and then start building backlinks at a later date.
Social media profile
Any business should have some profile on the top social media sites and a backlink in your bio, for example, will be a signal to search engines to pay attention to you. At the outset, you should at least create a profile for your business on the following sites:
Once you’ve grabbed those, you can consider other channels such as Tumblr, StumbleUpon, Flixter, and on and on. But the ones listed above have the most engaged users and you should begin, even on day one, to start building these, creating cover photos, avatars, bios with real personal details and URLs to your money site.
Over time you can populate them with content and build a following. You should build these separate to your personal profile and use both to promote your content (but only insert your backlink once on each profile).
Start joining communities in your niche
This used to be limited to internet forums where users would gather around a common interest and discuss topics important to them.
However, Facebook and Reddit groups are increasingly taking the place of internet forums and they work much the same.
Becoming an active and engaged member of a community is very time consuming but ultimately very rewarding. You want to become a regular contributor and gain trust and authority over time.
Spend most of your efforts helping people and only occasionally intersperse your posts on community sites with your backlink.
Start by drawing up a list of all the most important forums, Facebook, Reddit, Slack channels, etc., in your niche and begin posting on them.
At the start, all your backlinks on these sites will be link profiles and that’s ok—as long as you stick to the limited number of sites relevant to your niche and target audience, these links will look natural.
The more you post on these communities, the more of a real member you become, the more power will be conferred to your links. This process could go on for months, if not longer.
You could start posting five times a day on each community, if not more, and your backlinks will grow at a steady but inexorable pace.
Over time, the power and value of all these links will improve. Abandon communities that are dead and have no engagement or are overfilled with spammers and scammers. Just create your profile on these with your backlink, post a few times, then leave. Concentrate on the most active communities.
Start commenting on blog posts and forums
Blog comments have little value for link building themselves, but they are still an effective marketing tactic in their own right. If you start making valuable comments on blogs in your niche, and only occasionally share your link (or only include your link in your profile), then it will get picked up by other users and they may in turn share it on a social media page or blog post.
Use this as a networking opportunity and get known among the most important figures in your industry. As most blog comments are “no follow” it is much better to link your username to your website, which will serve you better in terms of marketing.
Similarly, you should join forums that represent your target audience. Familiarise yourself with how the community functions and how they interact with each other. Then drop an “I want to give back to the community” thread which links directly to your site.
Make sure not to overtly self promote. Your aim is to give free advice and drop your link at the very end.
There are a growing number of business directories on the internet that will publish your websites name, address and phone number, together with your backlink, either for free or for a small price. These “citation’ links usually consist of local business directories or a chamber of commerce group that are used by search engines to verify your business as real and rank your pages.
When it comes to local SEO, these citations are of vital importance and have consistently demonstrated their importance in all the work we have done for clients.
Submitting your citations and constantly updating them can be a tedious process but it’s a vital link building process, especially if you’re promoting a real bricks-and-mortar business.
Online review sites, such as Yelp, Trustpilot, among others, pay a big role in off-page SEO. Not only do they contribute to conversions, with 80% of shoppers trusting these sites before they make a purchase, they also provide good brand awareness and are a free place to build backlinks
Like business citations, they contribute to your rankings. You can sign up to these sites and court reviews quite naturally. They will allow you to place your URL with a specific keyword in your profile and start ranking for that keyword almost immediately.
Content sharing sites
Content sharing sites are some of the biggest sites on the internet and make a great source of quality backlinks.
Sites like SlideShare, Scribd and Issuu allow you to upload documents, such as PDFs and PowerPoint files, which are crawlable by search engines.
You can use these sites to target keywords in the filename, titles of documents and the texts of the documents. Your backlinks should be placed strategically in your profile when you upload as well as the documents themselves.
Similar, image sharing sites, like Photobucket and Flickr, allow you to upload content. You can then optimize the filenames, titles and descriptions of documents for your keywords, just like you would on document sharing sites.
You would also include the backlink in your profile conferring ranking power to your own site.
Video sites, like YouTube, Vimeo and Daily Motion, have become a powerhouse when it comes to advertising and can be used quite easily to create backlinks. You can optimize for keywords in the filenames and titles, as before, and also include your backlinks in the video descriptions.
All these content sharing sites give you the opportunity to have your media go viral. This can have a huge impact on your SEO.
Question and answer sites
Yahoo answers used to be the dominant Q&A site but now it’s Quora and Reddit. But even they aren’t the only ones. There are countless more, including those specific to your niche where people are simply posting questions and a range of experts chime in to answer them. Become one of these experts.
This has been a goldmine of traffic for many years, with brands and individuals looking to promote themselves talking directly to these people by suggesting their product or service as the answer. There are many tactics you can use here to make sure your answer rises to the top. Creating fake accounts, using proxies to hide your activity and upvoting your own answers are just some of these ways. Get creative and make sure your answer gets seen and that it leads directly to your website with a subtle backlink.
Next steps in backlink building
Once you have your initial backlinking in place and established a reasonable footprint on the internet, it’s time to arm your self with the big guns in the SEO process. This is the bread and butter of internet marketing and has become increasingly more relevant as winning in this game has become exponentially more difficult.
Writing articles and submitting them to high authority sites can be incredibly time consuming and will require you to be an expert on any given niche. You will have to research the topics thoroughly and, in some cases, spend money hiring writers and editing articles.
Guest post outreach
Guest post outreach is your first step in building backlinks as it will give you access to the high authority editorial sites we’ve been discussing throughout this course.
Outreach involves building long term relationships with editors on some of the internet’s most well-known websites. You should aim to go for sites of the calibre of Entrepreneur, The Next Web and AdWeek.
Although these are general sites with a broad audience, they will allow you to raise your profile as an authority in your subject.
Once you’ve achieved bylines on these sites you can then use this work as a calling card to other blogs willing to link back to you on the strength of your reputation.
But be diplomatic. Don’t just ask for links; people should be willing to link to you if you are contributing freely and voluntarily of your time.
The concept is that you will be creating exit points from large sites that lead back to yours. This will naturally increase traffic and land you in front of millions of eyeballs if done right. That traffic will build your brand, and, on the internet, that is the most valuable tool you have.
From here, the possibilities are endless. With a source of traffic and an imprint on large sites, any content you subsequently share will be transmitted to a very large audience.
Day 4 is when you will actually started building your backlinks and you will do this by creating social media profiles and profiles on blogs and forums.
Your aim is to start with a community presence and include citations as well as media you have uploaded to various content sharing sites linking back to your main site.
Once you have this foundation in place, and your community presence has been established, you will then go for the high authority, high quality backlinks we have been discussing throughout this course.
Day 5 will discuss going after the backlinks of your direct competitors and monitoring your existing backlinks so you can maintain the dominance of your off-page SEO in search rankings.
Day 5—Managing your backlinks
Congratulations on making it this far. Over the last four days we’ve covered a huge amount of knowledge on creating an effective backlinks strategy and implementing it to killer effect.
There has been a lot of information to digest because the topic of backlinks is so massive. But this course has already giving you the framework you need to implement your off-page SEO correctly.
On Day 5, we will be consolidating our knowledge to solidify the backlinks we have built and learning how to tweak them to directly target our competitors and steal their dominance in the search rankings.
Analyze your competitors
Competitor analysis starts with finding your rivals ranking higher than you for the keywords you are targeting.
SEMrush has a great tool for conducting research into your competitors. Simply enter your domain in the backlinks analysis tool and it will show you your main competitors based on the keywords you have in common.
In this phase, you should stick to analyzing about 3 main competing domains. This will make it easier to analyze factors that will help you reverse engineer what Google is looking for when it ranks websites in your niche.
Gather the number of indexed pages
Next you will put the three main competitor sites in Googles search engine in the form: site:competitor.com, which will tell you how many pages Google is indexing for that site. This will also reveal:
- The size of their website in comparison to yours
- How these sites are being indexed
- How much content and the type of content they have indexed
- An overview of the authority of the site
Analyze their rankings
You will now go back into SEMrush and enter your competitors’ domains into the backlinks tool separately and look at their keyword rankings.
This will give you insight into what kind of keywords you should also be targeting, if you’re not already, and which of your pages you can improve on to beat them.
This analysis will also give you their top pages that are getting ranked allowing you to visit those pages and understand why they are getting ranked so highly (particularly by looking at their on-page elements).
Do a backlink profile
Next you will analyze the backlinks their top ranked pages are getting. In particular, you should look at the pages that are outranking your keywords and understand where the backlinks are coming from, using SEMrush or a similar tool, like Ahref.
Your analysis should look at:
- What types of links are they getting (i.e., editorial sites, forum posts, business citations, etc.,)
- How often are these pages being linked (i.e., determine their “link velocity”)
- Which of these backlinks you can steal for your own purposes.
This information can be directly used in link acquisition.
Approaching competitor analysis like this will allow you to take a keyword targeted approach in your backlink strategy and move a step further in fine tuning how you build them. It will reveal how Google is ranking for the keywords you are targeting using backlinks and reveal opportunities to outmaneuver your competition.
Stay on top of your backlinks
The key to an effective backlinks strategy is to keep an eye on how many backlinks you have and how many you accrue over a period of time.
Tools such as SEMrush, Ahref and Moz can help you do this and give you detailed backlink reports.
They can tell you the overall quality of their links and easily catch the ones that start to harm your site. This will allow you to nip any problems in the bud as well as fix broken links as they happen and disavow any links that start to turn up as spam.
SEO is an ongoing process and just as you have systematically outranked your competitors by optimizing on-page factors and acquiring similar backlinks, they can begin to do the same and outrank you once more.
This means you need to keep building backlinks for as long as you want to stay on top of Google’s search results. This can be extremely daunting, especially if you are on your own, and at this stage of the game, outsourcing your off-page marketing will become a necessity.
With hundreds of sites to choose from, and a list that grows week on week, you will never run out of link building opportunities.
Phew! You’ve reached the conclusion of an intense 5-day course on backlinks. What you’ve learnt is the most essential element of off-page SEO and forms the backbone of online marketing to this day.
Getting high quality backlinks with search ranking power has become a difficult process that requires rigour as well as foresight to do correctly. For most marketers this is just one element of an overall SEO strategy.
Just as important as off-page SEO, is on-page SEO. On-page requires your webpages themselves to be completely optimized when you start producing content, and we could easily have done another 5 day course to teach you the nitty-gritty.