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Just a few years ago, acquiring inbound links to a site was the most important and effective element of SEO However, the quality of these links left much to be desired. With the increasing popularity of SEO as a complement to other online marketing activities, the need for sources of backlinks grew. This led to the creation of so-called link farms and SWLs (link exchange systems), which allowed them to be purchased in almost wholesale quantities. Viewed from today’s perspective, such links had no value, they were simply spam.
Seeing how littered with such links are search results, Google decided to act. With successive updates to the Penguin algorithm, the search engine’s robot analyzed more and more closely what links led to a site. Sites whose backlink profile it deemed spammy received a penalty in the form of a ban. Sometimes it was a ban imposed automatically and affected the entire site or individual keywords, sometimes it was a penalty imposed manually by a Google employee.
In the second case, it involved the need to “clean” the link profile of spam or “relinquish” links through the dedicated disavow tool in Search Console (which at the time was still called Google Web Master Tool). When we managed to bring the link profile to the expected state, it was necessary to request a re-verification of the site in order for the penalty to be removed.
How does linking look nowadays?
Google is aiming to reduce the value of links as a ranking factor in favor of assessing the technical and content quality of pages. For years it has announced its desire to completely abandon the consideration of link profile in the process of determining search results. However, practice shows us that links still work and, properly selected (along with a number of other measures, of course), still allow to achieve higher positions in organic results.
So how to acquire them? In an ideal world (and in Google’s Guidelines for Webmasters), we should acquire all links naturally. By “natural” here we mean – without our interference, simply by Internet users sharing links and publishing them on their sites. This is easier said than realistically achieved. Website owners are reluctant to publish dofollow links because they are increasingly aware of the impact it has on their site. In addition, with the popularity of the SEO service, it is natural that more and more people know what value this type of links have, so they want to make money from them.
So what does link building look like in real life? Acquiring valuable links is not at all easy or cheap. First of all, we need to start with content, as links to our site are best placed in an article. It should be valuable content, thematically related to our business, so that we can include keywords in it. Then we need to think about where we want to publish.
The conditions that a publication site must meet are, first of all:
– good quality of the content posted on it
– ability to publish dofollow links
– well-built backlink profile
– thematic linking to our website
– having real traffic/users
– having a good technical quality website
– visibility of the site in organic search results for words related to our industry
Where to search for publication places?
Solutions for where to look for publication sites are many. One of the simplest, of course, are platforms for contacting publishers, such as WhitePress, Linkhouse and Reachablogger, for example, which also have their equivalents in other countries. Within each of these platforms, we can choose a service that meets all our conditions (including price) and order the publication of a text with a link. Many publishers also offer the service of creating such content for us.
The second way is to contact publishers directly, who have many services in their portfolio and choose the right one for us from their offer. The advantage of this option is the possibility of negotiating prices.
The third way is simply to directly contact the owners of the websites that have caught our eye and establish terms of cooperation with them.
Acquiring links is also worthwhile for PR activities, such as publishing press releases or creating articles for portals related to your industry. Some portals allow you to place links in such content.
Types of inbound links to a site
Basically, there are two basic types of links – dofollow links and nofollow links. Dofollow links transfer some of the power of the site on which they are placed to the site to which they direct. Nofollow links, on the other hand, do not convey this power, so they are somewhat less important for SEO.
There are still different types of links, depending on what kind of anchor text (linked word or phrase) they have:
– brand links – where the anchor text is the brand name
– graphic links – where the graphic posted on the page is sublinked
– exact match – where the exact phrase we are positioning is sublinked
– links – where the sublinked word is not related to the page we are promoting, such as click here, source, see
– url – where we have sublinked simply the url of the site we are positioning
How to select appropriate types of links?
The most valuable links for our site will, of course, be dofollow links, so it’s worth focusing on acquiring them. However, in order to maintain the naturalness of the link profile we are building, it is worth acquiring nofollow links from time to time as well. However, when deciding what anchor texts we want to link to, it is worth remembering to keep balance and moderation in the case of exact match links, which are the most effective in positioning, but cause our link profile to stop looking natural.
Also remember that quality rather than quantity matters more in link acquisition these days, it is worth, in the budget we have planned, to buy fewer links, but with high SEO parameters.
How to check what links lead to our site and the quality of our backlink profile?
For our own site, this is easiest to check in Google Search Console, of course. In the panel we can see a list of all the links leading to our site, and we can view or download it. However, if we want to check the link profile of another site to, for example, decide whether we want to publish on it or preview what link building activities our competitors are conducting, commercial tools come to our aid.
The most popular of these include: MajesticSEO, Ahrefs and SEMrush, which have created their own parameters for assessing the quality of a site’s link profile such as trust flow, domain authority or ahrefs rank. Such parameters allow us to decide whether a given link profile is good or not without analyzing it in depth, which greatly improves, for example, the process of selecting article publishing sites.
She has 11 years of professional experience, she started her career at the Emarketing Experts agency as a junior SEO specialist. In addition to website positioning, she was responsible for conducting 360° marketing projects as an Account Manager at They.pl. She worked for companies from the financial sector (Bank Millennium, Bank Meritum, Finai S.A.) and e-commerce (e.g. Black Red White, Autoland, Mumla). At Up&More, he is responsible for, among others, SEO projects for Panek Car Sharing, Amerigas, Interparking, H+H and Autoplaza.