Link Building

Many consultants will tell you that backlinking from thousands of pages doesn’t matter – that quality links are what counts most. Fact is, however, that there is no “winner takes it all” in the quantity or quality debate – they both win. That is, they are both important. It is completely unnatural for a site to only have quality links – in fact, that is a sure sign of artificial linkbuilding. If you think of the way natural linkbuilding occurs, a site will obtain thousands of low quality links before obtaining high quality links. Think of true viral memes and how they develop. If CNN is considering linking to your site, it’s a sure bet that thousands of others (less significant than CNN) have already linked to it – it’s just “natural”. Therefore, we firmly believe that the total link counts do have a degree of influence over your site ranking.

How about quality links importance, then? With the words of top SEO researchers Aaron Wall and Andy Hagan:

…(don’t) hold your breath for search engine algorithms to place less importance on link popularity until the Semantic Web arrives, or maybe when HTTP gets replaced by a new protocol. Because links are still the basic connector, the basic relationship, on the Web. And for the foreseeable future they’re going to be the easiest way for a computer program to judge the importance and trustworthiness of a Web page (read the full article here).

 Over-optimizing anchor text is not a solution

Anchor text is the text that appears clickable in a link and is the text that you use as your keyword if you are doing offsite linkbuilding. The problem is that many promoters abuse it and rely too much on keyword rich anchor text that doesn’t look natural.

So, let’s assume you build thousands of  links to your site. If the majority of them are all using the same keyword phrase , that will have all the signs of  an artificial backlink footprint. Again, some consultants will tell you that this doesn’t matter, and evidence against it might be only correlation, but we have worked for some Top 500 companies that thought it not smart at all, and they had a lot to lose from making any faux pas in Google’s eyes.

So when is anchor text over-optimized? What we refer to here is that the anchor text is preferred keyword text only. If you look at the links that come in for a site naturally, you’ll see anchor text with high diversity. Most of links will be some sort of domain name as the anchor text like www.domain.com because it is very common for people to write something like this: “You gotta checkout product XYZ on www.domain.com” and then link the “www.domain.com” off to the site. Others will rather mention the company that owns the website/sells the product and less the search term likely to be used in Google to find them. Needless to remind you of all of the “click here” and “here” and “download this” and all of the other generic anchor text that you will find in the natural backlink footprint of any respectable website.

We prefer to use a variety of anchor text when building backlinks for our customers, and to monitor the backlink footprint closely for any outliers. Beware of services that build large volume of backlinks over a short period of time, without anchor text variation and possibly on the same type of properties over and over again (forum profiles, blog comments) – while they have their role and importance, the automation of such submissions created market opportunities for non-ethical SEO consultants to sell spamming services as “get links quickly” schemes.

Our backlinking strategy

SEO has become very competitive in the past couple of years and backlinking is very important to solid rankings. The threshold just keeps rising. What we mean by that is that while a three or four years ago the number of backlinks was important, it wasn’t nearly as critical as it is today.

You can’t rely on a simple ranking report to tell you if your backlinking campaign is helping your website or if you’re slowly making things worse. You can invest in complex reporting tools and try to gather all of the data by yourself , but you’ll likely spend a couple hours or more every time you do it, besides the learning curve required before you interpret results properly, avoid fallacies and false correlations and ultimately, derive actionable conclusions from your analysis. The more probable result is that you WON’T spend the time and thus you WON’T do the analysis and that is a mistake. Remember, time is money and you need to be efficient to be competitive. SEO is a long-term investment that requires sustained efforts in order to drive results, and knee-jerk moves and silver bullets are not going to help your rankings, but part you and your hard earned money every time you try them.

Shortcuts like spun content are still effective for offsite linkbuilding, but not as effective as they used to be. The simple fact is that many websites are getting more picky about such tactics because the indexing rate of low quality content is going down. This means that the quality of syndicated content must go up to compensate. Our copywriters give special attention to this aspect of their work, and we go as far as generating original and interesting content (magazine-class) for every supporting Web2.0 property we create for our clients.

While we employ a similar arsenal of methods in many of our campaigns (content syndication, social bookmarking, guest blogging, link bait content etc.), each is based on a custom blueprint derived from our market research and competitor analysis. Market research gives us a profound understanding of the intended audience the backlinking campaign must help drive to the client website. Analyzing the top 10 ranking sites for targeted keywords helps us identify their own backlinking strategies, determine their backlink footprint and design counter-measures to outrank them.

Our clients range from Top 500 companies with international operations to businesses competing in their community. Driving traffic through Search Engine Optimization works as well for local, only that we adjust the strategy to help our clients rank in geo-targeted searches like Google Places, Bing or Yahoo Local. You can read more about these on our Local SEO page or reach us to discuss particular implementations with one of our specialists.