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SMX East Recap: Link Building Fundamentals
Link building and SEO seem to go hand-in-hand nowadays. But are links necessary to rank well? Is there a magic number of links you should get? How many do you need? Can you acquire them naturally? Or should you purchase your backlinks?
In this session at SMX East 2016, Debra Mastaler, President of Alliance-Link, shares link building tactics and insights for boosting both the quality and quantity of links pointing to your content.
If you understand the concept of link popularity, or why they’re important in search algorithms, then you’re way ahead of the game. If the idea of link building overwhelms you, don’t fret. It’s not as complicated as it may seem—and you can rely on our team for assistance if this recap doesn’t clear things up for you.
There are 200+ factors used to determine how a page ranks (domain and page level links, page level content, machine learning, mobile, query data, site load speed, location personalization, HTTPS, etc.). As you may have guessed because of the bolded text, Debra Mastaler highlights that domain and page level links, page level content (title tags, meta descriptions, etc.), and machine learning (Rank Brain) all play a vital role in link building.
So what exactly is link popularity? Link popularity measures the quality and quantity of links point to a webpage. It is NOT just the number of backlinks point to a webpage. It is considered an off-page factor and engines weigh off-page factors more heavily than on-page factors.
There are four factors that go into link building: quantity, quality, relevance, and anchor text.
Link quantity is not just the number of sites linking to you, but the number of links that are linking to those pages too.
Link quality is determined by the authority/trust/popularity of the host pages/sites and the sites linking to them.
According to Debra, a quality page:
- Ranks well
- Shows topic expertise
- Answers questions
- Is trusted
- Is linked to frequently by trusted sources
Link relevance defines what your page is talking about—and click query helps Google determine what pages are relevant for different topics. It’s best to look for links from “similar” sites that mirror some of the same topics/terms that has to do with the subject matter on your website.
Anchor text is the clickable part of the link you see. It is a query ranking factor. According to Google, “…anchor text influences the queries your website ranks for in the search results.” When creating anchor text:
- Hyperlink when it makes sense
- Make your anchor text conversational
There’s no formula. There’s no right or wrong way. But don’t just hyperlink the same phrases over and over.
When outreaching and building links for your website, your goal should be to attract a large quantity of links from quality and topically (or geographically) relevant pages using smart and conversational anchor text.
What Are Unnatural Links?
Do you know what unnatural links are? If not, that’s ok. Here’s a list of what could be considered unnatural links:
- Paid links
- Large scale guest posting
- Low quality directories
- Footer links
- Template links
- Large sale reciprocal linking
- Massive press releases
- Blanket widgets and badges
What are the red flags that Google looks for? Keep the following in mind:
- Do not acquire a lot of the same links quickly.
- Avoid using same anchors over and over.
- Avoid linking with low quality pages.
- Avoid placing links in navigation and sponsored areas.
- Avoid pages/sites hosting excessive reciprocals and template links.
- Don’t make directory links (even niche directories) a large part of your portfolio.
- Avoid sites with excessive AdSense.
- Avoid sites with no Contact or About Us information.
Penalties & Disavow
If you have links pointing to your site that you would like to remove, there are ways to disavow them. She recommends the following steps:
- Step 1: Pull backlinks
- Step 2: Audit backlinks
- Step 3: Find contact info
- Step 4: Reach out
- Step 5: Disavow
When it comes to monitoring and disavowing links, Debra Mas Mastaler shared her strategy. Watch your rankings and watch your backlinks. Watch your backlinks like you watch your rankings. Analyze them, and quickly identify potential trouble. Try to get them removed when you find them. Just do it.
Link Building Tactics
She mentions three factors to keep in mind when link building, including:
- It is less about what you do and more about where.
- Links help you get ranked but clicks show you deserve to be there.
- You need to have something worth linking to before the links will come.
One of the most important things to remember is that you shouldn’t be getting links from just anywhere. Choose where you are outreaching to from credible sources that establish trust signals and set expertise, such as:
- Chamber of Commerce
- Industry Associations
- Better Business Bureau
Ask yourself the following questions: What type of content can I create to attract the most links and what are the best distribution channels for my content? Answering these questions will help you determine where to start with generating backlinks and figuring out a strategy to promote your content successfully. The content distribution channels suggested by Debra are:
- Email campaign
- Media (press) campaigns
- Community groups (Chambers & Assn’s)
- Social networks
- Paid ads (social)
With link building, there is no set path you need to follow. There are a variety of strategies you can tackle include any of those mentioned above, along with others like image gifting, gif gifting, unlinked mentions, link reclamation, and more.
I will leave you with one final piece of her advice: You have less than 5 seconds to get someone’s attention in an email or on a webpage. That’s all. So create an awesome and intriguing intro that grabs their attention right away.
The Link Building Speaker
Debra Mastaler, President, Alliance-Link
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