There are many different types of links and it is critically important that your site is well represented with a diverse backlink profile including as many of these different types of links as possible. If you look at any of the large brands that dominate the internet today, you will find that every one of these types of links is represented in their backlink profile. Depending on your business model and industry, some of these types of links will come more naturally than others. But, if you start by building out a base of links that consists of all the different types of links discussed in this lesson, and create an optimized presence on each of the communities listed, you will be able to create a backlink profile that will compete with and likely surpass any competitor in any industry.
Onsite linking is the first and easiest component of the link profile for each and every page on your site. This is where you link from one page on your site to another page on your site. Let’s say that there are two big categories of on-site links. Automatic links and relevance based links.
Automatic site links will be associate with your Primary Navigation, Sub-Navigation and breadcrumb links.
On-Site Automatic Top-Down Navigation Links:
Within automatic links there is a top down structure that should look like this:
The above image illustrates the top down linking that will naturally and automatically flow through the navigation links. This structure is discussed at length in the course Site Architecture & Navigation.
On-Site Automatic Bottom-Up Breadcrumb Links:
Breadcrumb links, when set up properly on your site will cause every page on your site to automatically point a text link to every page above it in it’s hierarchy all the way to the homepage. This is illustrated in the following image:
Total Links Attributed To Automatic Linking:
If a website were set up according to the above example, and you added up the number of links automatically pointing to every page in each tier of the site, you would get the following automatic internal link counts for each page.
This type of automatic link structure is important because, not only does it support clear navigation paths and proper segmentation of content along category lines within your site, but also because the internal link structure of your website demonstrates to Google which pages are the most important.
Relevance based links are an extremely important part of the content strategy on your site. This is where you link to other pages on your site when the content calls for it, with optimized contextual links. For instance, if you have a site about trucks, and you write a blog about parts that could be used to improve off-road performance, each time you talk about a different truck part like tires, shocks or fenders… you would want to make each of those keywords “tires”, “shocks” and “fenders” an optimized link that points to the appropriate category or product page on your site. These are called Relevance Based Contextual Links (of just “contextual links”).
The rule for contextual links is that you want to try to include 1 contextual link for every 100-150 words of text. But not more than that. The HTML for these links should be formatted as follows:
<a href=”URL” title=”Title Text”>Anchor Text</a>
Outlinking is when you include a link on your page to another website. Of course you don’t want to give links to your direct competitors. However, by linking to other credible and authoritative resources on a subject you can be providing added value to visitors, and Google recognizes this. While linking out to an authoritative site isn’t going to be as powerful as getting an authoritative site to link to you… it is a strategy that should definitely be included. If you are presenting research that was originally created by someone else, include a proper citation and a link to the original research. If you are reporting on an event, company or news story, make sure to include a link to the original source. Consider this, the primary task Google has taken on is to help people by disseminating information that exists throughout the Internet. By including links to valuable and topically relevant resources, you are aligning yourself with Google’s primary objective, and that is going to help you rise in the rankings.
What is a backlink? By now you should definitely know, but a backlink is a link from another website that points to your site. The backlink profile for a webpage is all of the links pointing to that page, and the backlink profile for a website is all of the links that point to all of the pages under that root domain.
Web 2.0 blogs are essentially hosted microsites where you can set up a blog and use it to post original, contributed or curated content. These allow you to create and control content of a website apart from your main site, allowing you to ensure that the content is both high quality and relevant to your niche. The drawback is that it does take time and effort to set up and support these blogs and microsites. However, the benefit is that you can gain exposure through new audiences through these channels and give you main site a nice boost with links. These sites are ideal for using as a first tier in a 2-3 tier linking strategy. Lastly, if you do a good job with the content, link building and promotion of blogs and microsites, not only will your main site get a nice SEO boost, but you could find that your blogs and microsites begin to get good search engine rankings on their own, effectively giving your organization more SERP real estate. This is a great strategy. But, keep in mind that in order for you to get the maximum benefit from this strategy you need to continue to contribute to and support each blog and microsite.
Just to be clear, Guest Posting is a strategy for contributing a blog article to someone else’s website. This is a very important strategy and can go a long way to demonstrating to Google that you are an authority in your field, and any links that you get from guest blogging can certainly give your website a nice boost in the rankings.
However, the key to the potency of this strategy is the credibility and relevance of the blog that you are posting to, in relation to your subject matter. For instance, if you have a website about Tax Law, and you submit a guest post to a blog that is about Fashion… that’s going to look strange and out of place to Google. It won’t really help you much… and, if you do too much of that, it could actually hurt your site by getting you penalized.
As with anything related to content marketing and link building, relevance and authority are the key. Only post to sites that are relevant to your niche and the more established they are, the better. For instance, if you contribute to a brand new blog that basically gets no traffic, no social shares and has a meager backlink profile. It’s really not going to give you much of a boost.
So, put your effort into establishing relationships with legitimate blogs and bloggers. It’s going to take some time, but in the end it will be worth the effort because not only can you get some good links, you are also gaining exposure to the fans and followers of that blog, and that can be the most valuable thing of all.
There is no question that these are the most important types of links to get. These are the links Google wants to reward you for getting. Editorial links. These can be links from blogs, news articles or basic pages. The key is that they are coming from pages that you do not have control over. Pages that you have not written or paid for. Google really wants to see links that other people have chosen to point at your website because they think that your website is a relevant and valuable resource for whatever they are talking about. This is a true vote of confidence for your website. The trick is getting people to take the time and put in the effort to do this for you. First they have to know about you, then they have to be sufficiently impressed to put in the thought and effort. We will discuss how to help make this happen later in this course… but if there is a prize to set your eye on when it comes to link building… editorial links are it.
Comment links are links that you include in a comment to a blog post or news article on another site. This can be quite a good strategy if the article is highly relevant to your niche and your comment legitimately contributes to the page in a meaningful way. However, if your comment does not contribute to the page in an appropriate way, or if the article itself is off-topic compared to the target page of your link, then this is the sin of comment link spam.
Any webmaster with a blog, Google rankings and any decent amount of traffic is in a constant battle with the plague that is comment link spam. Not only is your comment link spam likely to be deleted from any credible website, too much of it can raise a red flag to Google that your site is link spamming.
Any credible website should have some amount of comment links as part of its backlink profile. Just keep it relevant, high quality and to a somewhat small percentage of the links pointing to your actual website.
Now, on the other hand, if you are using comment links as a second or third tier linking strategy, then you can loosen the reigns a bit and see some extra boost. But, be warned, this can be a powerful but risky strategy if you do too much of it.
How to get comment links: Use the same strategies as outlined in the News Links section to find blogs and news articles that are relevant to your niche or keyword, and make sure that your comments add value to the page and your links offer additional information that is relevant to the topic.
It is important to list your site in every high quality and topically relevant directory possible. However, that does not mean that you should list your site in every directory available. There is a distinct difference. Many directories are low quality, used and abused by sites from “bad neighborhoods” and not relevant to your niche. You want to stay away from those.
When considering submitting your site to a directory you want to do some quality checking. A quality directory is likely to have a manual review process. Use SEMrush.com to see if the site has a good amount of organic rankings and traffic in Google. If the SEMrush.com rankings chart shows that the site has experienced a sharp decline in rankings and traffic in the last 2 years, then that could indicate it has been penalized and you should stay away.
The biggest key to directory submissions is to make sure that the directory is relevant to your industry and niche, that you properly categorize your listing and take full advantage of any information the directory will allow you to submit including keyword use.
Images can be used in powerful ways to build links. Of course there are many social sites that are image based and image gallery sites where you can submit your image with a link back to your site, and as other people share your image those social links can grow.
If your site has great original images you can allow other websites to post those images and request that, in exchange for using your image, that the site gives you credit and a link back to your site. You can look for articles that could possibly benefit by including a great image that you own and contacting them to offer it to them in exchange for a link.
Infographics are a very popular form of images that are used for link building. You can help this happen by including an optimized code snipped, or “embed code” that would allow people to easily copy and paste the image into their own webpages and include a reference link in the code. If your infographic present interesting and compelling data in a visually pleasing way, those can be a great source of link bait.
Here is an example of a great collection of info graphic elements that can be used in a countless variety of ways:
Yes, a link from a news article is going to be a “contextual link” but the fact that it is coming from a news article also shows that your webpage is current and relevant to what is happening now. That is another really strong sign that your page may be something that people would want to find when searching for information relevant to your topic. News articles should be entirely fact-based, formally written in AP style, and will appear on a credible news website.
It should also be noted that Google recognizes that there is a difference between your site getting a link from a news article that you wrote, and getting a link from an article that was written by someone who isn’t directly linked to your organization. If you wrote the article and it appears on a site other than your website, that is an indication that you are seen as a relevant authority in your field, which is good. But, if you get a link from an article that was written by someone else, that is an indicator that your site is currently a highly relevant resource for the topic being discussed. So, it makes sense for Google to treat links from news articles slightly differently based on who wrote them. The key is to do a lot of both, writing news articles and getting mentioned by other writers.
Start by writing and posting news articles yourself and then connecting with journalists who write articles relevant to your topic. When you find an article someone else has written, connect with them on social networks, compliment them on the article and after a couple “get to know you” interactions, let them know when you put out good articles and off to give them information or a quote anytime they are writing about your topic in the future.
Google search modifiers can be an amazing resource when looking for news sites related to your niche. Simply go to Google search and use any combination of the following search patterns:
- “Industry” + “news”
- “Niche” + “articles”
- “Keyword” + “report”
- “keyword” + “submit article”
You may also want to add + “year” to the end of any of those searches to help you narrow down more recent results. Google will return a long list of pages that you can search through to find journalists and websites that cover your topic. From there, begin reaching out to connect and build a relationship that will hopefully lead to media coverage and links for your site.
Two other great ways to find writers and sites that cover your niche are:
Twitter.com - Just search Twitter for #YourKeyword and you will likely find a long list of article links and people who write or share about your topic.
SocialMention.com – This tool quickly searches to find recent blogs, microblogs, bookmarks, images, videos and questions related to your search term.
If you have created a great presentation in PowerPoint, Keynote or as a PDF, you can get a lot more exposure for that work by uploading it to a presentation site. Once your presentation is uploaded, make sure to do some link building and social sharing of that page to drive some traffic, and include links to your site in the presentation as well as the description. Even if these links are no-followed, it can really help you spread your message, introduce new people to your content, and give your site some great trust and authority signals in Google.
Question and Answer sites can be a fantastic resource to help you build links and gain exposure to people who are actively seeking information and advice related to your niche. The key is to establish a profile on all of the top Question and Answer sites and then monitor them regularly for Questions that you can provide an answer to. When you do submit an answer, make sure that it is a complete answer that is likely to be selected as the best answer. That is really important. Most question and answer forums allow the person who asked the question to select the best answer and once the question is closed, many people will only read the best answer. Make sure to include a link to a page on your website that also addresses the specific question being asked. This is also a great way to get ideas for articles to write. You can safely assume that if one person asks a legitimate question, lots of other people probably have the same question.
Some of these sites get an incredible amount of traffic and Questions and Answers to popular topics can get tons of shares and links, so these can be a very powerful resource for building high quality links.
Reciprocal links are when you link to a website in exchange for them linking back to you. Typically these links are relegated to a resource page on both sites and because of this they are not very powerful links. However, if you were to take two sites, one with no links and one with a few hundred reciprocal links, all other things being equal, the one with a few hundred reciprocal links would definitely rank better.
The one case where this strategy is actually quite strong is for local businesses. By getting a lot of reciprocal links from other local businesses that are all around you, your business can demonstrate that it is an integral part of the local community and this is a great reason that it should outrank competitors who have not gotten the same “vote of confidence” from the local business community.
The best way for you to get reciprocal links from local businesses is to connect with them in the real world, talk to them, owner-to-owner or manager-to-manager, and ask to set up reciprocal links. They will probably appreciate the suggestion.
Reviews are among the most powerful mechanisms on the web. According to a study published by Search Engine Land (http://searchengineland.com/study-72-of-consumers-trust-online-reviews-as-much-as-personal-recommendations-114152) 72% of people say that they trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation. This evidence should tell you that your customers are likely to look for some reviews before making a purchasing decision. Google knows this as well and is believed to put some trust and link juice behind positive reviews that link back to your site. It is clear that webpages that feature positive aggregated reviews, along with Schema.org structured data markup, tend to rank on the first page of Google far more easily than page without reviews. So, get out there and get busy collecting great reviews on every site that will allow you to collect them.
Shopping product links are links that lead back to your website from shopping related communities. While participation in these networks is typically fee based for sellers, and links should all be “nofollow”, a brand with widespread participation in these networks is going to raise the perceived brand value and drive significantly increased traffic.
Social bookmarking services allow people to keep track of websites that they like and want to remember. Typically people will organize their social bookmarks by category. Now, since the first job of a search engine is to understand how to properly categorize content on the web, social bookmarking services give search engines great clues as to how people would choose to categorize a webpage. When lots of people have decided to bookmark your site, it shows that people like your site and want to be able to find it easily in the future. For these reasons, social bookmarking services can be fantastic places to get links.
Google is very interested in Social networks. However, links that come from a profile that you are in control of are not really the types of links that Google is trying to find. Of course those links do count, but they do not pass as much link juice as links from social sharing where people who are not directly affiliated with your website choose to share your site with their social connections. Google really loves to see those types of links. Still, you can’t really begin to get those until start participating in the network and letting people within that network know what your site is all about. Once your profile is set up, you should post regularly about topics that are relevant to your industry, as well as use your social profiles as a syndication channel for any content you produce such as blogs or news stories.
Also, make sure that you optimize your social profiles by filling out every bit of information that they allow. Make sure to include information about you and your business that will clearly demonstrate what type of topics your profile is relevant to. A well optimized social profile will include information about your industry, nice and keywords. Also, make sure that you join groups and participate in conversations that are relevant to your industry as much as possible. All of this will help other users of the network understand who you are and what your business is about. It will also help Google see you as more relevant, popular and authoritative within your niche.
At the very least, you should set up a social profile on every social network possible to make sure that no one else takes your brand name and uses it in a way that could make you look bad. That’s what we can smart brand control.
Just a few short years ago syndication of press releases and articles was a very popular and extremely powerful SEO strategy. That is because you could include one or two links with optimized anchor text and title tags, and automatically syndicate that content to thousands or tens of thousands of websites. This resulted in the automatic and super simple building of thousands of optimized links and it’s a strategy that worked wondering for Google rankings. However, at this point you are late to the party. Google has declared that this type of link building is against their guidelines and your site can get penalized for including optimized “transactional links” in content that is syndicated in this way.
What you can do is include “navigational links” that do not pass keyword rich PageRank. This means that the links in your press releases and syndicated articles should use anchor text like “click here”, “website” or the URL of the page you are linking to. Also, consider using a url shortener. If you do this, your site will still get credit for the links, but instead of the links helping your site rank better for a specific keyword your whole site will gently rise with the tide.
Wiki links are links from Wiki sites. Wiki sites follow the Wikipedia model of creating a knowledge base from user generated content. These sites tend to have the “nofollow” tag on their links. However, contributing content to pages that are relevant to your subject matter, and getting reference links to your site, or by having a page about your business on these sites, you can give a great boost to your TrustRank. That can give legitimacy to your brand and help your site do better in the rankings overall.
Videos are a very popular medium for presenting information online and can provide a powerful mechanism for link building. Create short, exciting or otherwise compelling videos. Use a self hosting service like Wistia. Using a self hosted service like Wistia is critical for getting link credit when people share or link to them. If you just use YouTube, Vimeo or a similar web hosted service, Google will see the content of your page as actually being taken from YouTube or Vimeo and your site will not really get the full credit as the originator of the content. Essentially, you will be handing that link juice over to YouTube or Vimeo. So, if you have a video strategy, check out Wistia!Once you have produced your video and posted it to your site, then post it to every video site and social network profile you have and promote the video to get people watching and sharing it. Make sure that you include a link back to your website in the video description.
Now that you know about
Every Different Type of Link
Next In the next lesson we will take a look at how to actually start building an incredible back link profile using