What is Quality Link Building? Even on Wikipedia, the closest they come to mentioning link building is the page ‘methods of website linking‘. Now, if you were to take a quick look at that wiki-page, it’s very broad and basically lists a few different types of link building methods. But just because there is no defining page on Wikipedia describing link building (or especially quality link building), don’t let that deter you from what Wikipedia has done for itself. Wikipedia is the gold-standard for on-page optimization. Their internal linking strategy is mind-boggling: millions of pages all interlinked by topic and sub-sections with tens of thousands of keywords (which is one of the main reasons why when you search for practically ANYTHING on a search engine, you’ll find a Wikipedia page close to the top. For now, I’ll get back to the topic at hand: Quality link building.
Reciprocal Links…Once Upon a Time (but not anymore)
In the early days of search engines, the first commonly practiced type of link building was reciprocal links: exchanging links with webmasters in hopes of attaining higher search engine rankings. Just like every SEO strategy, this became massively overused & abused. Reciprocal link software and services made it easy for any website owner to exchange links with related websites at little-to-no cost. Google eventually considered any aggressive reciprocal link behavior to be spam. Why? Honestly, I don’t think I’ll ever know. Out of all of the types of link building methods, I thought (and still think to this very day) that reciprocal links was one of the most beneficial ways for Google & other search engines to determine a website’s quality based on the reciprocating sites. Don’t get me wrong about reciprocal links (specifically, the automated programs) – the abuse became horrid and something had to be done. But individual webmasters connecting with others in their niche seems like a great way to acquire related, editorial links from quality sites.
Regardless of my views of the many benefits of reciprocal linking, this is NOT a strategy that is currently effective.
Directory Submission…It Depends (case-by-case basis)
Submitting to hundreds (or at worst, thousands!) of directories is no longer a quality link building strategy. Mid-2012, Google massively deindexed a HUGE percentage of all active web directories – why? The directories were complete junk. However, there are directories out there that are worth your time. Niche-relevant directories that are heavily-moderated. Not every industry has these types of web directories, but for the ones that do, it can be a valuable link-asset for you to add to your backlink portfolio. The few ‘quality’ ones out there do charge for submission, but don’t confuse that with a paid link. A link on a niche-relevant, high quality, well-moderated directory is something that should never be discounted.
Press Releases…Yes (but do it right, read below)
Press releases exist for one primary purpose: newsworthy news. Creating a PR talking about “hey, check out my site – it’s great. Before you finish reading, let me get this sucker jam-packed with tons of anchored keywords going to my homepage” is just plain stupid. It happens hundreds of times a day, but it’s insanely stupid. Don’t submit / distribute a PR unless you have something to announce! And when you do create a PR with great content, don’t slam it with multiple links to your site unless absolutely necessary. If your PR is comparing 3 different products, then yes, you could hypothetically link each of the 3 products to a different page on your site. But don’t underestimate the power of compelling content. Newsworthy, or as I like to call it, ‘readworthy’ content is always king; and, will always attract the highest numbers of readership and social sharing (along with love from the search engines).
Guest Blogging…Everyone’s Doing It (but usually overdoing it)
Posting content on someone else’s blog with a link back to your site is currently a very HOT link building strategy. The problem: it’s already becoming overused and abused. Contextual links count a great deal in search engine algorithms, but RELEVANCY counts exponentially more. Here at RankedResults, we only guest post on blogs within our clients’ niche. We (and I’m going to attempt speak on behalf of Google’s algorithm as I’m feeling overconfident today) believe if your website is about Ohio real estate listings, there’s no reason for you to have content (and links) on blogs about socket-wrenches, toddlers’ pajamas, and organic coffee. Stick with relevancy, dammit.
What Constitutes Quality?!?
1) Age of External Website: how long has the website (you want a link from) been in existence? Don’t be afraid to use DomainTools.com to lookup the age of the website. The older & more-established, (typically) the better.
2) Is The Website Ranking? If So, How Well? Is The Site Even Indexed In Google!? If the sites that link to you don’t rank well themselves, don’t expect them to be the ‘power punch’ your site needs (or wants for that matter) to increase your rankings.
3) OBLs (Outbound Links): does the website link to unrelated, or at worst, inappropriate / illegal websites? If so, say goodbye to that potential link resource. If there’s only one absolute certainty in SEO & link building, it’s that you don’t want your ‘good’ site associated with ‘bad’ ones.
4) Paid Links: Beware of acquiring links from sites that promote / publish ‘paid links’ (links typically in the sidebar or footer; often times labeled as ‘sponsored’). This is a sure-fire way to catch Google’s attention. In a situation like this, you don’t want Google’s attention.
5) R-E-L-E-V-A-N-C-Y: The more specific relevance to your site’s niche / industry, the better. Quality, relevant link prospects are hard to find (which is why you should hire us with our risk-free results-driven seo), but Google (along with Yahoo & Bing) heavily value quality & relevancy WAY MORE than the quantity of links.
In conclusion, quality link building is hard work. If you’re managing SEO in-house, make sure you have a highly-trained team that understands what true ‘quality’ means – or it will burn you in the end. Here’s what we (speaking on behalf of the entire SEO industry) know for sure about link building: last year’s techniques don’t work today, and today’s techniques probably won’t work tomorrow. Stay AHEAD OF THE CURVE. Be creative, stay relevant, and don’t ever use shortcuts.