On the internet you may find too much guides about link building, but you will hardly be able to find one like this: if other people, in fact, rely on improvised marketing and pure copywriting (with the respectable purpose of making traffic on their websites), this is an aggregate of my real experiences. Indeed, on my sites, because this is the story of how I really do link building and how I did it for my customers, in a period that goes from 2012 to 2015 approximately. 90% of what you read should remain valid for many years but, as usual, never take anything as gold: the SEO is also personality and creativity, not just technical (which is always necessary).
- 1 What is SEO?
- 2 Link building: what is that?
- 3 How to do link building without being stupid
- 4 Link building in practice
- 5 9 strategies to find backlinks using Google
- 6 Link earning: a natural way for taking links
- 7 5 kind of nofollow backlinks that you will love
- 8 Direct / Undirect Link building
- 9 Hunting for 404 errors to do link building
- 10 Link building via e-mail
- 11 Link building for bad people
- 12 5 link building strategies you can use today
- 13 Fast & Furious Link Building
- 14 Link building effectiveness & measure
What is SEO?
SEO (aka Search engine optimization) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website in natural or “organic” results (no paid). SEO may target different kinds of search and it is better improved using a strategy known as “link building”.
For our purposes, you will need a SEO strategy i.e
SEO = (51%) technical skills + (49%) creativity skills
Link building: what is that?
The activity of link building (building i.e as construction, creation of inbound links to your website) corresponds to all the operations that can be performed to increase link popularity. It starts from the publication on external sites of thematic articles (guest post, article marketing, etc.) to the request of links to relevant sites, or to the use of forums and sites of questions and answers. On a practical level, moreover, it is possible to distinguish between those practices, which presupposes a certain degree of “forcing”: in some ways “natural” strategies as Wikipedia userful links, buying good links from other websites, “random” cites, and so on are generally better than, for example, “forced” one i.e comment link building. Otherwise, to be clear, we would hardly have obtained that link) and link acquisition (link earning, which is a more spontaneous practice) and often not determined directly by the will of an SEO).
The link building activity is part of the typical SEO consultancy, and is one of the most important components (by the way, it involves many degrees of risk having penalties by Google).
Link building is one of the main activities to carry out effective and useful SEO campaigns, despite hordes of pseudo-experts scramble to say the contrary (often they do, in my experience, because simply they have no idea how to do it). It consists in generating with various techniques of the incoming links to a website, with the primary purpose of increasing the traffic of visitors affected by Google. Assuming that the most popular sites on the engines are also the most linked, in fact, this strategy allows to increase the references, the authority and credibility of the site both in the eyes of the engines that those of users. For example, a site that is linked as a source by an online encyclopedia is likely to acquire more value for positioning on Google or Bing. So if you take a backlink from a really famous website, you may hereditate some of his popularity: this is the most important concept about SEO, here.
It is not easy to explain the techniques for making link building in general, because much depends on the context and each site has its own optimal strategies. In general, the best thing to start from is to think about the assumption “why a user should link my page, my home page or my article“? It may seem like an abstract reasoning or without practical feedback, but in reality it is very real! As a matter of fact, the more convincing we will be in answering this question, the more our backlink will last over time and, consequently, our SEO campaign could be more effective.
Valid reasons for receiving backlinks, which then become indirect link building techniques, could be:
- I responded effectively to a very common question about my niche;
- I published on my site something very useful for users in my sector;
- I proposed a page that aggregates data in an unprecedented way and, once again, useful to users;
- I have facilitated users through a service
- … and so on 🙂
Normally a good way to think about link building is to see it as a direct consequence of quality, so for example: if I produce excellent content on my site, I will be naturally linked by someone, sooner or later (indirect link building), but it is also possible – within certain limits – “pushing” the links by ourselves.
For example, we could try to submit our site to a web directory in the right section, and this would become an example of direct link building. Other examples of websites that link us willingly can be social news at Reddit or DiggIta, forums, colleagues or friends blogs and so on.
Link building in practice
Generally, the acquisition of backlinks can be done by requesting them (i.e via e-mail) on:
- similar websites;
- online newspapers in our niche;
- active forum;
- portals aggregators of contents;
- price comparators.
Link building is therefore an SEO activity aimed at increasing the popularity of a site, and this through external links, which at best we can only put in the best conditions for it to happen. Exactly as it happens for the concept of “popularity” in real life, in fact, this effect is produced by a set of behaviors (web content), from the (good, nice, useful…) idea that people got about us.
The approximate idea that “the more links you have from external sources is better” brings many webmasters and SEOs to increase backlinks in an indiscriminate way, often limiting themselves to considering only those coming from very popular sites (and even at the cost of forcing and often , to pay something to get the result = getting backlink).
Although many estimates of PageRank are wrong (Google has almost no interest in publishing it, in fact it seems almost “regretted” to have made it accessible with its old tool), link building is unfortunately almost always understood in terms of “PageRank acquired”. A rather short-sighted approach to link building, which I always discourage (sometimes in vain, I must confess) because I think it does not lead to results or, at best, to positive results in a purely accidental way.
A more constructive way to enter the logic of link building is, for example, to try to be linked by Wikipedia: as the content will be moderated, in fact, it is necessary to know how to enter here without giving “annoyance to moderators, or without they could suspect we are doing it to do “dirty SEO”. This can be done only in some cases: many website need to be very high quality ones, and you cannot link your website with thin or not original content from Wikipedia so easily. You need to understand link building is an editorial activity, as if you were the Google’s editor-in-chief.
Moreover, a link building based purely on PageRank (i.e as many other SEO indexes like PA, DA, and so on) without considering the traffic arriving on that backlink. Context, motivations and logic behind backlink (a natural link must be contextualized and “credible”, in a sense, that is, it does not have to “seem” put there only to make number) is important to take into account, and without it all things should be very risky in terms of penalties or spam report. Your “link profile” (i.e all your backlinks) must be taken carefully, and the acquisition of good backlinks often requires a parallel activity to remove spam ones, automated or out of context with respect to the site. While you are building backlink, in fact, you could get some other spammy or rubbish ones that you need to avoid.
Valid ways to make link building are strictly related to the context in which it operates, and pass through direct reports, requests to webmasters of similar sites, links to the site in discussions on blogs and forums, guest posts, article marketing and content posted on user-generated content platforms like Youtube. In practice, the vast majority of really good links are acquired naturally, i.e without the intervention/will of the webmaster: it is the case where we publish a very useful content for users (an original guide, for example) and some bloggers feel so valid the resource to link it from its site. The process therefore takes place naturally and – to the extent that it can be encouraged through experience and borderline techniques – it is almost never the case to force it.
Good link building is essential to measure in an approximate way the popularity of a website or a web page, and therefore indirectly the success rate also in terms of ROI and conversions, of any commercial website: but it is precisely this last aspect, in fact, to make it controversial in many respects.
Finding backlinks is one of the main goals that, sooner or later, faces any activity of this kind: so, how to find them? Normally, to track and “find inspiration” for backlinks you can use special search tools: Google, to date, does not allow you to see this level of detail in a universal way, and the data of Search Console are reserved, rightly, to each site owner. To be able to know something more, especially on our competitors, we must therefore try to invent something!
The only alternative, in fact, to find backlinks of other sites (which we do not have the control via Search Console) is to sharpen a little ‘ingenuity and exploit the following search patterns, which can be very useful to go to Hunting of incoming links that are often unexpected and not infrequently of quality. A very useful tool to find potential backlinks, without external tools and exploiting the “magic” of the search operators.
For example: when we quote the string [search query] I refer to one of the search keys for which you are interested in positioning yourself with your site, or – by extension – any interesting research that has emerged from your SEO audit (square brackets should not be used) . Keep in mind, however, that none of these searches will return automatically incoming backlinks: the results are always skimmed, filtered and analyzed critically, so much of the success of this technique depends on the sensitivity and experience of the SEO that he puts them into practice.
Let’s move on to do some concrete examples, with some exploitable research strategies to find new useful backlinks.
Search within a website
site:domains24h.com [search query]
Find search query inside domains24.com webpages
Search backlinks from a directory
add site [search query] "submit article" [search query] "guest post" [search query] "guest blog" [search query] "Submit Free Articles" [search query] "Submit Free Article" [search query]
This author has published * articles so far [search query]
[search query]"Powered by: php Link Directory" [search query]"powered by PHPLD" [search query]"Powered by WSN Links" [search query]"powered by PHP Weby" [search query]"Powered by cpLinks" [search query]"Powered by cpDynaLinks" [search query]"powered by BosDirectory" [search query]"Powered by Link manager LinkMan" [search query]"Powered by Gossamer Links" [search query]"Powered by K-Links" [search query]"Powered by In-Link" [search query]"Powered by eSyndiCat Directory Software" [search query]"Powered by: qlWebDS Pro" [search query]"Powered by Directory software by LBS" [search query]"powered by phpMyDirectory.com" [search query]"Powered by HubDir PHP directory script"
Search backlinks from WordPress blogs
"powered by WordPress" [search query]
Find backlinks from nich
[search query] -site:famousone1.tld -site:famousone2.tld ...
This is a basic strategy to use in a personalized way, because it allows you to exclude very large brands from search results (for example sitofamoso1.est and sitofamoso2.est, but the list can also be very long) in order to better visualize any backlinked opportunities filtered, in fact, by possible over-optimization that often those who arrive first on the engines tend to perform. Ideal to exclude if the competitor appears repeatedly in the same results, for example.
Search only for .com backlinks
site:*.com [search query]
Your could also combine these footprint as you like, i.e
site:*.com “powered by WordPress” [search query]
This is useful as a measure of your brand popularity: searching this, you can have a quantitative idea about number of search results indexed by Google external to yourwebsite.com.
Search backlink from Wikipedia
site:wikipedia.org [search query] "This article does not cite any sources." site:wikipedia.org [search query] "This article may need to be rewritten entirely"
Briefly, if Wikipedia is missing some data, you could edit and give it an improvemente using your website as a source.
Search backlink from blogs / 2
intitle:blog [search query]
SEO is generally a stimulating and borderless activity, very suitable for those who have a good deal of mental flexibility and know how to mix creativity, technique and planning in the right way; doing it in Italy, particularly in our language, could however lead to big problems and, ultimately, to a substantial stalemate.
How to increase referrals? How to increase visits? How to position yourself better? Where to get links, especially, especially if the market sector referred to by our site is particularly competitive? To try to understand it a little better, I will propose a recently published case study that seems particularly significant to me, and that we must be careful that it does not create cheap illusions.
The Ahrefs article Viral Link Building with Coke (this is pure link earning, by the way) describes the interesting case in which a site, previously without any backlinks, begins to receive in jest (and all from authoritative sites) “simply” posting an article on the effects of Coca-Cola on the body. Following ingredients are used for that:
- take an argument that interests a bunch of people (aka general target);
- create and add an infographic that could summarize the topic;
- characterize the article with a minimum of controversy.
The topic has not only sparked spontaneous share on social networks, but has also attracted the attention of many magazines such as Yahoo !, the Huffington Post and the very popular BuzzFeed.
You can find so much ideas to be exploited, i.e searching in Reddit for your favourite niche: subreddits can give your right stimulations for finding what people love to interact, contradict and comment / share.
Link builders are obsessed with the presence of the nofollow attribute on the link they get, but this is a hypothesis not only wrong but also limiting and restrictive: in many cases, if well done, even a link with nofollow can be very useful to their SEO activities. The problem, as always, is to be able to measure the contribution, but as it is difficult to do even on the links without nofollow (so-called dofollow) it is worth considering “almost” equivalent the two things and directly measure the performance of the site on the engines over time.
In this article I will try to expose 5 examples of significant backlinks with nofollow attribute that you would like to have: yes, you also do the experts on the subject, and stress that the dofollow is the only thing that matters. But is it really like that?
For years I wonder why this anti-nofollow obsession, and over time I think I have learned to bind it exclusively to the link market: in practice, those who snub nofollow links do so to feed, or not diminish, the value of the sale link. Thinking about it in this way shows a limitative vision of the SEO, stifled by an unspecified and deleterious obsession with “success” that I can never accept from a consultant. Google, incidentally, published a statement in which he writes, inter alia, that bloggers should use the nofollow on all links that did not come out in an organic way (for example, the links that would not exist if there were not something in exchange for that link, like a product or a free service). Reason why I have insisted several times on the idea that doing a good link building coincides with finding N good reasons why a page of our site should be linked from the outside (because it is useful, because it is fun, because it is so absurd to deserve exposure etc.).
- Are nofollow useless for SEO in general? This is the wrong question, my friend.
- What really matters in SEO? This is the right question.
So here are 5 noble examples of link building in nofollow, which should convince you at least not to make arguments or “pipponi” useless.
- Guest blog not “malevolent” – When a famous blogger offers us the space on their site, the temptation to use the dofollow is very strong: but it is not at all obvious, nor necessary, that we should do. If the site is famous, in fact, you will receive (even in nofollow) many visits from a more or less authoritative source of traffic, depending on what you find.
- Bookmarks – The various Reddit clones have always offered the possibility to post their news and web pages, with the results of showing them in a few seconds to hundreds of potential visitors. Those links are useful for bringing many new active visitors to the site, and this has nothing to do with any consideration on the nofollow you can do. Suggestion: try to search for “reddit alternatives” in Google, you may find useful backlinks for you.
- Wikipedia – We all try to put the backlink to our site from Wikipedia: but the presence of administrators almost always tolerant of link building makes it difficult to introduce these links. And it’s a nofollow link; who would not want them? I remember that these are thematic links, very visible to the public and anything but trivial to obtain: the requirements to be considered “good backlinks” are, I think. The fact that they are nofollow (they do it to avoid the phenomenon of fake PageRank) is perhaps the least interesting thing about them.
- Comments on blogs – it serves more than anything else to increase visitor traffic intrigued by your profile – because of something you’ve written, for example. If you publish a backlink to your site from the comments of an article by some famous journalist, are you sure that you would snobbereste the opportunity, even if nofollow?
- Free platforms for writing articles (such as Medium or Storify): these platforms are very used by SEO, even for article spinning in some cases. They provide a remarkable level of link opportunity, almost always nofollow but it does not even matter here too: your ability to develop content from original or noteworthy angles is much more important.
Direct / Undirect Link building
When one thinks about link building it is somehow difficult to give an idea of what needs to be done without resorting to concrete examples. I have done it on several occasions on this blog, but that is not all, of course. Much more interesting, perhaps, starting from general ideas from which link building usually originates, which can be forced directly (and is the most immediate and simple way to do it, often the only one) but can also be induced.
Partiamo dalle tecniche di “forzatura” diretta che si possono usare per fare link building su un generico sito, tenendo conto che – in linea di massima – a determinare la migliore tecnica di link building è soprattutto il tipo di sito e gli argomenti che tratta. Sui siti commerciali solitamente è più difficile agire in questa direzione che sui blog “neutri”, così come è decisamente complesso (se non quasi impossibile, in termini di “pulizia”) mettere in pratica questa tecnica sui siti rivolti ad un pubblico adulto.
Let’s start with direct “forcing” techniques that can be used to link to a generic site, taking into account that – in principle – determining the best link building technique is above all the type of site and the topics it covers. On commercial sites it is usually more difficult to act in this direction than on “neutral” blogs, just as it is very complex (if not nearly impossible, in terms of “cleaning”) to put this technique into practice on sites aimed at an adult audience.
The direct approach provides, in principle, techniques based on the sending of content (for example: writing promotional-thematic articles, and sending them on various blogs in the hope that they interest and is approved), or I try to report via email / forum / blog the resources of my site to potentially interested webmasters. The direct techniques, on the Italian market, often tend to be ineffective both because “everyone tries” a little haphazardly, and because the subjects with whom they work are savvy, but it is still possible, with a little research, to find valuable collaborators also in terms of those who appear to be our competitors. By making an extension, offering a payment to have a link is a functional technique in this dimension at the cost of taking on the risks of carrying out such a practice (Google penalties).
The indirect approach instead consists in generating articles, in-depth analysis or FAQs locally (for example by spreading them on social networks) that are easily linked by other users, typically (but not exclusively) as “baits” or answers to very common questions in the sector. This is a broader spectrum technique, therefore, which requires more time, more resources and often implies greater difficulties, while the precise number of backlinks that will be obtained can not be determined a priori. It is all about putting online “things” useful, in fact, and this is typical of the contents such as tutorials and suggestions from experts, as often the good contents go unnoticed to search engines, often more taken to enhance the hype of a frivolous topic rather than to enhance what really is quality.
Targeted link building is very important for a complete and effective link building. Let’s take a real example: for a consultancy I recently made, I had to correct a “partnership link” – to be clear: a retailer who relies on the shopkeeper of my client, who links from his official site that of the latter, which pointed to an expired and no longer renewed domain. A backlink lost, in practice, a dead link pointing “empty”, and that instead it would have been more useful to address the site for which I was consulting.
backlink source -------XXXX------> my old website
backlink source -------link------> my actual website
Here you can send a request for correction of the link to the company (i.e via phone or email or ticket), so as to hopefully receive feedback on.
In some cases your request could be ignored or not well understood, so it could be useful:
- talk with them via phone;
- write down again request, thinking that person who read does know nothing about SEO;
- attach a document explaining advantages for their customer UX (i.e if your customers click on link, actually cannot see anything useful)
Link building via e-mail
Direct requests for links via email are today, still in 2018, the most effective way for building links. In some cases perhaps it cannot just work, specially when you request backlinks from bad designed / UX / content / poor quality ones.
In a general way, best sites to get backlink from are
- stable sources for fresh traffic (i.e taking traffic in quantity for a long time, because they can give you a durable backlink and not just temporary one)
- difficult for competitor to obtain from the same website (i.e because you were linked as single official partner)
When you ask for a link via email
- in some case (7 times over 10, in my experience) you will be just ignored;
- in other cases you may asked for a bill (1-2 times over 10, if you searched with punctilious approach to the matter)
- if rare cases you will meet good webmaster giving you a link with no problems at all
If you use this tecnique, please note that for some borderline niches like bets, adult, loans etc it could be too much difficult and not so efficent. For ver hard competitor sector, you will need to create great content on your website and buy some good links (I’m sorry!).
Link building for bad people
What really does the “bad people” do to gain their popularity via link building? I try to tell you briefly here.
Backlinks Purchase – There are many strategies to buy links that can be useful: of course you need to know how to evaluate if it’s worth (in 90% of cases it’s not worth it), and if they do not cost much (the average goes from 50 to 500 euros, one-off or as a monthly fee … just depending on the case). If you do, at least do not buy backlinks from footers and widgets of other sites – so-called backlink site-wide – because they are often the first to be penalized manually, and have an HTML structure quite simple to detect by algorithm. Please always prefer one-time payments to recurring one, if possible.
Article marketing – Although there is a correct way for doing it, most of the time this technique is reduced to “write a press release and spam it” or, worse still, “rewrite the same article by changing only a few words“. The simplistic and hasty spirit with which press releases and promotional articles are published and reproposed is disarming in many cases, and shows still rather inexperienced company: in many cases they are a weak way of link building, but if used with more criterion (and a bit of cunning) would be a deadly weapon to make the difference.
Indirect Backlinks Exchange – We contact webmasters of similar sites (often they will be our direct competitors) and ask to receive a backlink from one of his sites in exchange for one from us on another couple of sites. In this way the one-way link is assured and there is no risk of being penalized for link exchange (Google penalizes the excessive exchange of links,), although there is the possibility of being accused of buying and selling of links.
Infographics – This is OK for your link building, but you need to create a very effective and original one for getting some success.
Let’s see some advanced link building strategy.
Exploiting expired domains – Consult the marketplaces of expired domains (one that I realized this year is trova-domini.it) and try to buy the control of those who have a good evaluation or reputation. A simple redirect 301, or a landing page with a link to our site, and you’re done. Clear that in these cases you must have a decent budget available, and know for sure how much and if it is worth spending so much because the strategy, by itself, also requires valid content (or “reasons”) because visitors go on that site.
Posting glaring things (even if fake news) on a site – I have already written on several occasions that it is a technique for doing content marketing that, willy-nilly, goes the most: invent news, write clamorous things and season them with titles -click. We have to deal with these realities, and often it is not easy to counter them with “clean” methods; in fact, letting go of any ethical consideration inventing the news becomes a link baiting technique. It is also a way too “creative” – in the worst sense of the term – to get linked to unwary debunkers and inexperienced webmasters. Re-enter in the group, sorry to write it, a lot of seemingly authoritative SEO blogs.
Ask for interviews – Farsi interviewing is, apart from rare cases, a white-hat method to increase your references, and widen the reading of your blog to fans of the celebrity that we are going to interview. In many cases markettari you get to interview perfect strangers to make use of them, so we do not have too many scruples in doing it and get into “competition” with others. The important thing is to know how to be original, and it is not a talent that you learn in my opinion.
Broken-link building – It is about identifying the missing resources or 404 within famous websites, and sending the webmaster a notification about them, adding at the end of the communication of the substitutive sites for that area. For example, we can contact a DMOZ editor to invite him to remove an expired or no longer valid link, and with the excuse to report our, which of course is still missing. The strategy does not work in all the cases of my knowledge, however: it also depends on how shrewd those who read it, and on the perception of the backlink that the webmaster has (which is scarce or even nothing in many cases). If the “victim” site has a smart SEO service, it becomes much more difficult to do this. To detect link 404 there is no specific method or pattern to use on Google: you have to know how to search, i.e using the addon for Firefox Broken Resources Finder.
Fast & Furious Link Building
We have seen in this long post on link building – the art of getting backlinks from the outside to increase the popularity of a site on search engines – some very common techniques, including reusing expired domains and exploiting links 404; it is already a lot, but there are also other strategies.
One of which I have not yet talked about the exploitation of partnerships: usually this tactic is used, for example, by brands that use an affiliate program. If you use such a program (web client management systems like WHMCS are enabled for this) you will have a lot of “spontaneous” incoming links, and it is usually important that they are nofollow. It is an indirect “excuse” to be linked, especially by bloggers, while the links are (on average and without prejudice to the hateful thin content) of quality, in the strict sense that they convert (they make both the blogger and the brand gain) as they are often nofollow. But little interest in this juncture, because even the nofollow have their damn importance, and I will never get tired of repeating it (here are five good reasons not to underestimate them).
A similar way to receive a link, if for example used to work a product of brand X, is to request a link from the page testimonial or partner of X: usually, when granted, are long-lasting links and sources without doubt authoritative , however (to be fussy) fall into the dangerous case of paid links. In fact, you literally pay to be on that page, and even there the nofollow is lurking. WHMCS, just to stay on the example above, gives these links to all or almost its big customers , and to act on this line you have only to ask the company. Another similar example, always paid for, is the list of Italian registrars on the NIC website. Deciding whether or not to use this strategy, in fact, is to be assessed on the basis of the actual scenario.
Link building effectiveness & measure
The problem of measurement of link building passes through two problems: the main one is to quantify the links, ie to understand who actually linked us (and especially who and how long they maintain that link over time). The other problem, not less important, passes to be able to establish when a link affects the quality of the SEO activities we are doing.
We must remember that the quality links are those that are not published by a site, but are also maintained online over time; something that for example does not happen for Wikipedia sources removed by a particularly zealous or “bad” editor, for directories that post our link and one day that domain is sold and reused for other purposes, for blogs that publish our comment and then decide to remove the link to the site without notice. These are complex cases and that make history to themselves, and above all they make the link building is particularly complex not to be carried out but also to be measured, in the face of being the only activity really effective and evaluable in any SEO activity.
To measure the links to our site there are therefore various tools.
to view the acquired backlinks that Google has detected, without distinction between anchor text and nofollow / dofollow attributes, we can use the free tool (from owners of the domain that interests us) of the Search Console; definitely the best tool in absolute reliability, although it is not in real time (if we take a link today is not shown immediately) and above all tend to give a vision often partial and free of interesting details (for example, the anchor text and attributes on links are not shown).
Alternatively, there are various paid tools, available partially in free trial, which do nothing but make up for the SC deficiencies and show more features of the links and, above all, calculate the quality indexes achieved by the sites themselves; to measure the effectiveness of the links we can indirectly look at the report of the Google Search Console, once again, relating to the traffic arriving at our site; rarely we will find a clear correlation between number and type of links and quantity / quality of the traffic that will arrive, but at least the number of visits, the CTR on search results, the number of clicks and (for example) the percentage of rebound measured by Google Analytics will be essential as quality metrics to establish the success and improvement of our SEO / SEM campaign.
Each assessment must always be carried out keeping in mind the objectives of the campaign, which can be pure virality (generate comments, visits or interest on the site) as targeted to a series of more material objectives (click on banners, conversions, subscriptions to a service, etc.).