Link Building Guidelines - 10 Commandments of Link Building
Rather than writing yet another post about new link building tactics we wanted to get back to basics and examine the guiding principles that should be applied to your link building activities regardless of which methods you’re employing. As luck would have it, we ended up with 10 principles so it was only natural to call them the Ten Commandments of Link Building.
These Ten Commandments will help you maintain a ‘natural looking’ link profile which is important to your search engine optimization if you do not want to be subjected to the wrath of Google.
For most of these items there are no hard and fast rules regarding the percentages of one type of link over another. It’s more about common sense and whether there are any red flags that might indicate your links have been acquired unnaturally (e.g. if you have 100,000 links to your site and 99% of them use your primary keyword as the anchor text rather than things like your url or “click here” that might give Google some indication that you have not been obeying their commandments).
The 10 Commandments of Link Building:
1. Thou shalt increase the QUANTITY of links and the number of domains linking to your site.
- This will take care of itself if you are following the other nine commandments but it is a very good idea to set a goal for the number of links you will acquire each week (20 per week or 1000 per year might be a good goal for a smaller budget)
- It seems that number of linking domains have increasing importance as that is harder to “game” than just the number of links, so always be looking for new sites to get links from rather than just going back to the same sites you already have links from.
2. Thou shalt favor QUALITY links from authoritative and trustworthy sites.
Make sure you get as many links as possible from:
- pages with high PR
- trusted sites
- government sites
- educational sites
- Most link anlaysis tools give you a breakdown of links by PageRank or their own measure of authority (mozRank, mozTrust, or AC Rank) but it would be nice to see more of this analysis as a native feature in some of these tools so that we can quickly and easily see what percentage of links are coming from government and educational sites.
- Give more attention to acquiring “followed” links; while there is evidence that “nofollow” links do contribute to your link equity there is no debate that followed links carry more weight and are of higher quality.
3. Thou shalt use varied ANCHOR TEXT in your links with a bias towards the keywords associated with the landing page.
- As mentioned above, if 99% of your links have the same anchor text that will probably send a signal to Google that you are trying to game the results.
- That said, you definitely want the majority of your links to be targeting the primary and secondary keywords for each page respectively.
- Many link analysis tools such as OpenSiteExplorer.org provide an analysis of the anchor texts across your link profile which allow you to see the most common anchor texts and the percentage of all links that each anchor text accounts for.
4. Thou shalt acquire DEEP LINKS to your interior pages as well as links to your homepage.
- Again, let common sense prevail when monitoring your deep link ratio; the litmus test is whether the number represents what could be considered a “natural” link profile.
- That said, you should be trying to get a lot of links to interior pages with optimized anchor text so that your target pages are ranking well for long tail keywords.
5. Thou shalt acquire links of VARYING TYPES...editorial, press releases, article directories, social media, web 2.0, site directories, news aggregators, forums, blogs, review sites, price comparison sites, etc
- It would also be great to see this sort of analysis as a native feature in some of the major link analysis tools on the market.
6. Thou shalt favor links from sites and pages that are TOPICALLY RELEVANT.
- We won’t enter into the discussion surrounding latent semantic indexing here but it suffices to say that Google’s algorithm gauges the degree of topical relevance between keywords and the pages on which they are found and incorporates that information into the overall reputation of your pages (i.e. the topics for which your pages should rank).
The topical relevancy of the source page is determined primarily by these on-page factors:
- contents of the title tag
- anchor text of all links from the page
- contents of heading tags and bold text
- contents of image alt texts
- contents of the body text
7. Thou shalt favor links from sites that are GEOGRAPHICALLY RELEVANT.
- If you are targeting a specific geographical market then it follows that the bulk of your links would come from sites within that market.
- Taking this a step further than country level targeting, many business owners would do well to go and meet other business owners in their local area and find a relevant way to link to each other.
8. Thou shalt consider the number and nature of links on the SOURCE PAGE.
- If there is a huge number of links from the source page then each link will provide very little value in terms of passing authority.
- The position of a link on the page also affects its SEO effectiveness – you should give preference to links closer to the top of the page and links in the main body text.
- The destination url of the other links on the page (known as co-citations) might also act as an indicator of the subject and the quality of your page by association – try to have your link alongside links to authority sites on the same topic rather than spam sites.
9. Thou shalt not link to BAD NEIGHBORHOODS.
- There are clearly good and bad neighborhoods online in terms of trust and the nature of the content and practices employed on those sites.
- Linking to bad neighborhoods is a stronger indicator of association with that part of the internet than receiving links from them but you certainly don’t want a large percentage of your inbound links to be coming from bad neighborhoods.
10. Thou shalt not participate in automated or deceptive LINK EXCHANGE PROGRAMS.
- Reciprocal linking is a completely natural activity between businesses and is not a problem despite many people suggesting otherwise – just don’t set up a link directory with the intention of exchanging links with thousands of random sites.
- 3-way link exchanges on the other hand are rarely a natural activity and would most often be conducted by people trying to fool the search engines – don’t waste your time.
- Link networks and link farms are built with the sole purpose of getting thousands of links for the member sites and more often than not leave a footprint with which Google can detect the member sites.
If you follow these guidelines when acquiring your links you are sure to please the search engine gods and reap the rewards of quality search engine optimization.
Note: If you are punished by Google after breaking some of these commandments and wish to repent you need to change your ways and then go to the confessional here to ask for forgiveness.