It is undeniable that Google has greatly improved its ability to semantically process human language. In fact, since Hummingbird appeared in 2013, Google has been better responding to user questions. But the link building continues to work. And that means that to establish the quality of a website and place it on top of the SERP’s for certain types of queries, the algorithm has no choice but to measure the authority. And when I speak of authority, I mean the way we understand it by SEO: based above all on the quantity and quality of the external links it receives.
It seems that this will continue to be the case for a long time, unless Google takes an evolutionary leap and begins to understand the contents of a website as a human would. Until our eyes see that day arrive, we have link building for a while, and if you want you can read about the effectiveness of link building .
For this post, I have decided to create this small guide, which will serve you to have an overview of link building, its evolution in recent years, the main techniques, etc., to position a website with external links. If you already know the topic, you can skip the first sections
What is Link Building?
In the introduction I have already given some important clues. The English expression literally means “link building”. Link building is based on a fairly simple intuition: when you like something, because it is considered useful or valuable, you receive links. And the more links a site receives, the more authority Google attributes to it. The more authority, the better a site is positioned in search results. The concept is very simple.
Getting links to a website dramatically influences your positioning. And whoever does not believe it, can always do experiments by himself.
How Does it Work?
Authority flows, and a part of that force that receives a page is transferred to those sites to which it links . So in SEO we talk about link juice , or “ link juice “. One way to take advantage of that flow of authority is to intelligently distribute it using internal links. For example, if we manage to position a page of our domain, and there we have placed a link to the main page, it will also receive a part of that force.
Google had a more or less reliable indicator of authority known as Pagerank, but decided to delete it from the map. It is not such a significant loss, either, because what really counts is the indicator used by Google on a daily basis. In addition, SEOs have other ways to measure it, such as the MOZ Page Authority and Domain Authority .
The Evolution of Link Building in Recent Years
The link building chronicle in recent times could be summarized as Google’s attempt to get rid of anchor text, and reduce its importance in SEO. The anchor text of the links pointing to a site provides information to the search engine about the keywords that were important to the site , and the exact keywords, they worked! That led SEOs to abuse this resource. But since the launch in 2011 of Google Penguin , doing link building based on exact keywords in the anchor text can be very expensive. The landscape of off-page SEO has changed a lot since then. Now what works is:
- Alternate keywords with apparently casual expressions, such as “follow this link”, “click here”, etc.
- Add several words that accompany the keyword in the anchor text so that the links appear natural.
- Place the links within the body of the text.
- Often use the brand name or url.
- Use a nofollow link if you have a support blog network.
- Use the cooking, which consists of putting two links, one to the web to position and the other pointing to another of the same theme, so that Google understands that they are related by their theme.
- Take into account co-occurrence; not only the anchor text keywords matter, the words that are in the context of the link (in the same paragraph, for example) are also taken into account by Google.
In addition, the quantity of backlinks now matters less than their quality , and it is better to place them little by little so as not to fall under the suspicion that we are trying to influence organic results. The fact that the theme of the page that links us is the same, or is closely related, has also gained weight.
Main Link Building Techniques to Build a Link Profile
There are many ways to get external links and build a link profile that improves our SEO. Some are true strategies, and involve thinking big, investing a lot of effort, taking risks. Others are tactical, punctual actions, and are available to any blogger or webmaster without specialized knowledge in search engine positioning techniques.
1. Agreements between webmasters
We refer to:
- Buy / rent links
- Link exchange
- Sponsored Posts
- Guest blogging
In all these cases two webmasters intervene (and in some of them, an SEO or an agency acts as an intermediary). It is a win-to-win. Everyone wins. One receives a backlink. The other gets compensation, whether it’s money, another reciprocal link, a payment for the sponsored post, or free content. Link exchange is no longer very stylish, because it doesn’t seem exactly natural, and it’s easy to spot.
Press releases in the media should also be added here. Domains of digital newspapers and news portals usually have a lot of authority, and getting a link through the publication of a press release can be very beneficial for the SEO of a website. Although in this case it is not a webmaster who agrees to the agreement, but a journalist who saves himself from having to search for a topic to write his article.
Other times, more than an exchange, it is a favor that someone who likes you or who has linked you first (or simply, because of you) does you. But remember, we are talking about techniques for link building.
2. Satellite blogs
This tactic consists of creating blogs around the money site , but independent of it, to reinforce it through links. It is one of the most basic techniques that exist, and unlike some that we will see below, it does not have a specific or complex structure.
3. Link Wheels
This technique consists of creating several blogs on free platforms such as Blogger, WordPress, Thumblr, etc. Once created, you have to add articles in each of them, with links to another of the sites of the wheel, and to the money site, or web page to position. Typically up to two or three wheels are created.
Alex Navarro , who controlled this technique perfectly, recommended not to close the circles. That is, at the end of the wheel, one of the sites should not link to the next so that the chain was not so evident.
Currently this technique is easily traceable by the Google algorithm and its use is discouraged.
4. Tiers or pyramids of links
A little ore sophisticated, the link pyramids consist of creating three levels (tier 1, tier 2 and tier 3). Level 3 links point to level 2, and at level or tier 1, links go to the money site. The good thing about this technique is that it allows you to automate tasks and create lower quality links, which saves a lot of work . But let’s see in more detail what the three levels consist of:
- Tier 1: It is made up of blogs with good content, newspaper logs, universities, etc. With long and highly curated posts, images or even correctly optimized videos. At this level, quality takes precedence over quantity.
- Tier 2: at this level of the pyramid, made up of blogs, comments on forums, bookmarks, etc., the quality is not so good, and the number of links is higher. The links, as I said, point to tier 1.
- Tier 3: This is where some SEOs black hat the beast, and start placing automatically generated links, from directories, bookmarks, forums, pingbacks, etc.
The advantage of link pyramids is that they keep the money site relatively safe from penalties , because the separation between levels serves as a filter. Still, one way to save yourself trouble is to avoid tier 3 spam.
5. Private blogging networks (PBN)
The PBN , “Private Blog Network” , are blog networks that serve to support a money site with links. These networks are usually made up of high-quality blogs . Often, free platforms are disregarded and the domains are their own, with hosting and created with different accounts. The nice thing about PBNs is that you have all of the Tier 1 perks in Link Pyramids, without the brown that Tier 3 tier entails.
As they are blogs with good quality content, you remain “safe from penguins.” Often, the only way to detect these networks is indirectly, not algorithmically (generally). And in these cases, the only recourse that Google’s have is to apply a manual penalty.
Expired domains that used to have good authority are often used to create the blogs for these private networks , which can give the money site a huge boost.
6. Link baiting
You are a good boy? Then the link baiting is for you. It is about creating valuable content and sitting down and waiting to be linked . It is the safest way to build a link profile, but it has two problems: it is a slow process, and nobody guarantees that they will recognize the value of your content.
Anyway, valuable content is very useful, not only for link baiting (which can be combined with other techniques we have seen), but also because it is a very important asset when searching for webmasters who are willing to get involved. a link .
On the link building techniques we have seen, in the first and last you depend on other people. The others have the advantage that you only depend on yourself (and that is very useful in the event that you have to resort to the Disavow tool to get rid of any penalty).
The most risky techniques, such as link wheels and tiers, are often used to position affiliate websites and similar projects, where the goal is to rank fast and get the maximum benefit before a penalty knocks down the site. When it comes to a website or a corporate blog, you have to think things through more carefully and weigh whether it is worth it. For most projects, it is not necessary to create networks with dozens of blogs and other types of link sources to position yourself well in search engines.
Well, this is the guide, which in the end was not so small. If you think I have forgotten something important, or want to share some personal experience with link building techniques, leave a comment 🙂