Effective Link Building Strategies for Successful Link Acquisition

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Link BuildingIt is not common for an SEO company to deal with new clients that have worked before with companies offering link building services. Depending on the quality of the service provided, links will help boost rankings or harm the site in ways people cannot image.

In many cases we have to deal with sites that are ranking poorly in search engine results due to penalization issues caused by negative link building strategies. The most common of these penalizations are the ones involving:

  • Participation in link farms
  • Buying excessive links
  • Excessive targeted anchor text that may trigger a filter or penalty
  • Unbalanced link profile with too many links from low quality sites
  • Poor link geo localization targeting
  • Use of deceptive practices against search engines' term of use

This information is intended to provide guidance to anyone interested in launching a successful and effective link building acquisition campaign. Keep in mind that not all factors mentioned here may apply to your specific case. Use this information at your own discretion. If you would like to share your link building secrets or comments get involved in this discussion.

Before Starting a Link Building Campaign

  • Conduct keyword research and create a list of specific keywords to target. If you are targeting a language different than yours, make sure the person conducting keyword research is a native speaker or have a good command on the language. Often times there are language and cultural nuances that only proficient speakers can differentiate
  • Group your keywords in sets of 3, 4 or 5 to target specific pages. Targeting more than five keywords per page can be challenging at times and not the most effective way. However, you will find that 50% of searches are new and perhaps your page will show up for keywords/keyphrases you have never expected. You can reasdjust your campaign later on for better targeting
  • Map your site properly to avoid engaging in keyword cannibalization. Keyword cannibalization is known as the practice of creating two or more web pages that contain the same keywords or keyphrases that will compete with each other for placement in the search engine page results (SERP)
  • Create a list of anchor text with a descriptive paragraph for submitting to directories and other sites
  • Remember to diversify your link anchorage. Getting ten thousand links at once pointing to your homepage with the same anchor text will do you no good if you are targeting different keywords and or want to look natural. Plus, it is possible this can trigger a filter in the search engine results
  • Make sure that links pointing to your pages are working well and are the ones you have been using across your site. Using yoursite.com and yoursite.com/index.php are two different URLs that can cause duplicate content problems
  • Create a schedule for link acquisition. Acquiring 300 links a day unnaturally will most likely raise some eye brows. Instead, grow your link profile slowly but steadily. The exception to this case are well known, established sites with high traffic and a kick for obtaining hundreds or thousands of links through natural means
  • Create a diversity link acquisition portfolio. You need to diversify your link sources, type of links, geo location, etc. Consider obtaining links from quality directories, article and press releases, social networks and most importantly contextual links
  • Create a budget for your link building campaign. This does not mean necessarily that you have to buy links. Instead, you will have to assign resources to submit your site to important directories, pay for PR distribution and others. If you don’t want to do it yourself or don’t know how to, then hiring the SEO services of a competent search engine marketing firm will be your best choice
  • Have ready emails, passwords and contact information for submission purposes. Keep in mind that some sites will not provide a clear privacy policy; consequently, you may get some spam. It will better to have a new email or two for link building purposes rather than using your personal email

After you have done your homework and are ready to start your link building campaign consider the following requirements for successful link acquisition.

Basic Link Building Requirements

This information applies mostly when outsourcing link building services.

  • Links must be permanent and legit, preferably free of charge, one way, non-reciprocal and static to your website
  • The page where the link is placed (link page), not just the homepage, must be indexed and preferably have assigned a Toolbar PageRank by Google. However, don’t get stuck in how high the PR is. Use this number only for referential purposes
  • Link page should be updated and cached by Google, Yahoo and MSN within the last 30 days
  • Link page shall not be excluded by robots.txt, at the server level through the .htaccess file, or any other programmatic way. Doing this is considered deceptive and a bad business practice. There are limited ways to determine if the site is blocking the page at the server level
  • The <a> tag shall not contain the rel=nofollow attribute, and the meta tag shall not have the nofollow attribute
  • Anchor text should contain your keywords and the hyper link text must be human readable and color coordinated. No same background color should be acceptable
  • Text links are preferred over graphics ones. If using graphics make sure to add your keyword in the alt tag
  • Links must be from different Class-C IP addresses. Stay away from link farms that offer hundreds of links from the same IP address. If possible, make sure to have links from different nameservers too
  • Link pages must be static without the use of string parameters, session ID's and other URL parameters. Link page should be search engine friendly, preferably but not required, ending in html, shtml, php, asp extensions or using folder friendly path like yourdomain.com/keyword-page/
  • All Links should be from topically relevant websites related to your subject and vertical, and preferably from authority sites. A link from a poker game site will have no much relevancy for a workers’ compensation site
  • Link page should be written mostly in the language used in your page. That means that if your page was written in English-only, then the link should preferably come from an English-only page or at least most of the information in that page should be written in English. Of course, there are also some exceptions
  • Linking from multilingual websites is acceptable and encouraged. However, keep in mind that for relevancy purposes the anchor text used in foreign languages and the number of links should not constitute the majority of your link profile
  • There should be no more than 20 outbound links on each web page where your link is placed
  • Consider how your link building patterns will affect assistive technology beneficiaries. Excess use of text in the title attribute will produce stuttering, and therefore may cause a negative user experience

Outsourcing Link Building Services

If you are planning to outsource link building services, consider the following:

  • Submission must be manual and links should be placed naturally during a reasonable period of time. No use of automated software including but not limited to Directory Submitter, Zeus, Arelis, Comment Kahuna, Web CEO or others
  • Links must be in place for a minimum of 1 year free of charge. Permanent links are your best options. The link building company should be responsible for keeping links in good standing or replacing any lost links within a reasonable period of time
  • Links from websites that already link to your site, directory, blog or affiliate program should not be counted as new
  • Deployment of links should be done according to schedule specified by you, the client, and before completion of project
  • Minimize use of template sponsorship for blogs, directories, sites and similar strategies. This can leave a foot print on the web. Remember that at one point you won’t have control over the quality of the site using the template and its content
  • Viral strategies should be carefully considered and implemented. Use your URL or the name of your company as anchor text instead of a keyword. Otherwise, you may be at risk of being penalized
  • Links acquired should be reported periodically, reviewed and accepted by you. Most importantly, create specific Key Performance Indicators to measure effectiveness of link building campaign
  • Exercise your rights to reject links that do not meet your terms and conditions and aks for suitable replacement links
  • You should be able to verify link placement through cache in the main search engines

Preferred Link Building Tactics

  • Favor old, high ranking and authority sites with data available from Alexa, Compete, Quantcast, Technorati and other sources
  • Link site should be listed at Yahoo directory, DMOZ, Best of the Web and other important directories
  • Link site should present indicators of social interaction at Delicious, Stumbleupon, Digg, Twitter and other social networks
  • Quality and number of outbound links should be considered with as much care as the quality and number of inbound links
  • Last cache date and datestamp should be used to determine the age of the link page
  • Use of language tags should be used when targeting links in other languages
  • The title=”keyword goes here” attribute should be included in the link html code when possible

Link Building Strategies and Practices to Avoid

  • Steer away from using "links," "link to us," "view site," or any other term that may devaluate the effectiveness of a targeted link
  • No 302 redirects, JavaScript links, hidden links (including DIV tags, iframe or inline CSS display:none), Flash sites/pages, cloaking, framed pages or other unethical or black-hat tactics
  • Links from the following categories should not be accepted: scraper sites, mirror sites, link exchange hubs, link farms, link exchange programs, ping sites, links within newsgroups, nofollow blog comments, spam forums, cookie-cutter affiliate sites, catch-it-all directories, spam article submission sites, free-for-all websites, pharmacy, illegal, hacker, warez, hacker/cracks, torrent, porn, violent, or hate-based, guest books heavily spammed, low value classifieds sites, dynamic links, ad bots, spam sites, or generally black hat sites
  • No sites banned, blacklisted or penalized by Google, Yahoo or MSN
  • No in-construction sites should be acceptable

If you are interested in a customized link building solution contact us to find out how we can help you acquire quality links.