The importance of a solid link profile will vary from expert to expert. I still believe links are one of the most important ranking factors Google has for you.
One problem a lot of SEOs have is they don’t understand how to do it the right way. If you use the wrong tactics, you’re setting yourself up for failure from the beginning. If you choose to take the long-term strategy and build links the right way, it might take a bit longer, but you’ll thank yourself down the road.
Elements of Link Building
Here are the most important factors to consider when building links for your site:
While links are not everything, when looking at links, their quality is everything. It matters much more than the number of links you have. Building quality backlinks is about reaching out to the right sources and offering value in exchange for a solid link. There are many ways to build links the right way, so Google pays those who do it correctly.
Most people only look at the total number of links, but that’s a huge mistake for a few reasons:
- Search engines might ignore the vast majority of links if they’re low-quality or spammy.
- Links from brand new sites are worth more than repeat links from existing sites.
- Links from other websites are worth more than a bunch of links from your own site (from one page to another).
How do you identify a bad link from a good link?
Google expects the links you get pointing to your site to be relevant. Going over to Fiverr and purchasing a gig that offers 10,000 links for $100 isn’t going to yield the results you expect. They’re going to be crappy profile links on things like Myspace and Soundcloud, which probably aren’t relevant to your niche.
Another thing Google looks out for sites that charge for links. You can do a quick “site: write for us” search, and it might bring results that look something like this.
Some of these sites may charge you to guest post on their site in exchange for a link. Google doesn’t like this because it becomes easy for those with a big bank to game the system.
The goal of link building is for Google to reward those who provide value in exchange for a link. You want to write a guest post on a site with people interested in your expertise.
The site you choose to write a guest post for should also have traffic of its own. When the site has traffic, that’s going to flow more link juice in your direction since people are actually seeing what you’re contributing.
Anchor text is the text used beneath the link. The goal is for the text to appear as naturally as possible in the article. You want to have a variety of different types of anchor text because they each have their own place in the SEO realm.
The one thing you don’t want to do is have a bunch of text that says “click here” pointing to your site. Instead, if you wrote an article about raised garden beds and you’re trying to get a link to it, you might want the anchor text with a link on it to actually say “raised garden beds.” Doing this helps tell Google more about what is to come when someone clicks through.
Number of Links
Lastly, the number of total links you have matters as well, and you need to build high-quality backlinks at scale over time.
We already touched on this, but it bears repeating: It’s not just total links you’re after. At the end of the day, the site with the most high-quality links will usually have a better edge. However, it also depends on the pages you’re getting links to. Links to your homepage are good, but most natural links won’t be to a homepage unless they’re mentioning your brand name specifically.
That’s the first mistake.
The second is not considering how and where those links are coming from. One of Crazy Egg’s most popular features is the heatmap, which helps people pinpoint which site elements are aiding conversions and which are distracting people from converting. If you’re trying to get links to this page, you want to get links from landing pages or conversion-related sources.
That might change for other feature pages like Recordings. Here, a design-related link wouldn’t make as much sense. It’s not as contextually relevant. However, if the page or post were speaking about usability or interface design, then it would be a decent fit.
The quality source of the links you get matters, but so, too, does the place they’re linking to.
3 Tips to Improve Your Link Profile
Now let me provide you with some actionable steps you can take to improve your link profile and ensure you’re getting the most link juice from your efforts.
- Don’t take shortcuts: There are no shortcuts in link building; you need to take the time and build them the right way. This involves having conversations with people, pitching yourself, and telling them how you can provide value to their site. Look for broken link opportunities, find sites that are relevant to your niche, and pitch them via email or social media.
- Remove hazardous links: Google has something called the disavow tool that allows you to remove links that might be hurting your ability to rank. You’ll want to use this tool carefully because disavowing a ton of links could actually harm your site. Removing links that are no longer relevant or that maybe popped onto your profile by accident can help clean up your link profile.
- Don’t forget internal linking: Internal linking is an important piece of the puzzle too; we shouldn’t only worry about external links. Of course, external links are important, but creating a web of topics within the same niche helps Google crawl your site. Google pays a lot of attention to search intent and the overall comprehensiveness of a piece of content. If you can solve everyone’s problems in one place with a cluster of articles that cover a topic from front to back, Google will reward you.