Till now we’ve learned how to create the kind of content that people are searching for and that answers all of their questions, we’ve made an attempt to understand how search engines work, and we’ve understood keyword work in the realm of content creation, optimizing the site with technical SEO- but these things alone will not help your web page rank. If you want to outrank all of the other sites that possess the same qualities, you need to establish authority. You can achieve this by earning links from authoritative websites, creating your brand name, and nurturing a loyal audience base that will boost your content reach.
According to Google, two out of the three main factors that they consider for ranking any site are- links and quality content. This is the reason why trustworthy sites are linked to other sites that can be trusted, and the same goes for spammy sites. You make to make sure you establish quality links and fall in the trustworthy category if you want to rank your site on search engine result pages (SERPs).
In this chapter, we’re going to focus on what links are and how you can earn them from other websites.
Backlinks (also known as Inbound links or external links) are HTML hyperlinks that work as jumping points where they take you from one website to the other. These links work similarly to how the real-life reputation of a brand is built and are considered the currency of the internet. Links are treated as a vote of popularity by search engines since the late 1990s and the tradition would continue for a long.
For instance, if you went to New York and asked five unrelated people which is the best pizza place in the city, and they all replied Joe’s Pizza, then you’re likely to believe that it is indeed the best pizza place in the city. Backlinks work similarly in the internet realm.
Internal links are used to connect different internal pages of the same domain. These links take you from one page of a site to another. If a large number of internal links are pointing to one page, then that page is considered to be of importance by Google. (As long as this linking is done naturally and not in a spammy way.)
Over the years, search engines themselves have redefined the way they look at links. Now different algorithms come into play when search engines evaluate sites and pages based on the links they find. But how do search engines evaluate these links? It all starts with the concept of EAT.
According to Google’s Search Quality Rater Guidelines, Expert, Authoritative, and Trustworthy, or its acronym E-A-T is a very important concept when it comes to websites. The sites that display these characteristics are greatly rewarded by the search engines, and on the flip side, the sites that fail to follow the concept of E-A-T are considered of lower quality in the eyes of search engines. The concept of E-A-T is rapidly gaining popularity as search engines are evolving and emphasizing solving user intent.
Thus, now it’s more important than ever for you to create an SEO plan that falls under the umbrella of E-A-T or expert, authoritative, and trustworthy. This would result in a far superior site and also secure it for the coming future. In the end, the main aim of Google is to provide great value to their customers, and following the concept of E-A-T would allow you to do exactly that.
If a site is considered more important or popular then the links from that site carry more weight and are considered better than the others. For instance, Wikipedia is considered one of the most important sites and it has thousands of varied sites linking to it. This is a clear indication that over the years Wikipedia has built a reputation of holding a lot of authority, expertise, and trust among the other sites.
So, if you want to earn authority and trust with search engines, you need to get links from sites that display the qualities of E-A-T. These sites do not necessarily have to be as popular or widely known as Wikipedia, but they should have a reputation for providing users with trustworthy and credible content.
Links work as votes that tell the search engines about the popularity of a website. The rel=nofollow (pronounced as no follow) attribute removes your vote for search engines and allows you to link to a resource. Just like the name suggests, “nofollow” instructs search engines to not follow a link. Some engines still do end up following these links but that’s more for simply discovering new pages, and these links do not pass link equity or the votes of popularity.
So, you can use this attribute rel=nofollow in places where you’re either linking to an untrustworthy site or making an unnatural link (a link where the owner of the destination page has either created the source page or paid for it).
For instance, if you’re writing a blog about link-building practices where you want to give an example of poor sites that do not follow E-A-T, and you want to link that site in your blog. In such a case you can simply use the nofollow attribute to link to the untrustworthy page without signaling to Google that you trust the site.
A standard link looks like this:
<a href=””> www.esearchlogix.com</a>
A nofollow link markup looks like this:
<a href=”” rel=”nofollow”>www.esearchlogix.in</a>
If follow links are considered superior and pass the link equity, then why do we not only focus on follow links?
This is a very important question that might pop up in each one of your heads. But the statement isn’t necessarily true. There are a lot of legitimate places where you can create links to your own website, but these shouldn’t be counted as votes or these sites trusting you.
Some of the examples could be setting up links to your website by creating a Facebook page, Twitter account, or Yelp page, etc., but setting up these links doesn’t count as a vote of trust.
Thus, it is natural for your site to strike a balance between having followed as well as nofollowed backlinks in its link profile. Even though a nofollow link might not pass authority but it can always send valuable traffic to your site way and may even lead to future followed links.
The complete assessment of all the inbound links your site has earned makes up your link profile. It is made up of the total number of links your site has, their quality (whether the links are spammy or not), their diversity (are hundreds of sites linking to your site once OR is one site linking to your site hundreds of times), and more. The search engines understand how your site related to other sites on the internet with the help of your link profile. There are a lot of free tools available online that help you analyze your link profile and make an assessment of its overall makeup.
Just like other things in life, people started manipulating links to their benefit as soon as they learned about power links. People have found multiple ways to gain artificial links in order to increase their search engine rankings. And while these manipulative tactics may sometimes work, they are a clear violation of Google’s terms of service and if discovered by Google, may lead to your website being deindexed (where web pages or entire domains are removed from search engine results). Thus, you must always maintain a healthy link profile.
With the help of a healthy link profile, search engines get an indication that your site is earning the links and authority fairly. If you want the search engines to rank your web page and consider your site legitimate, then you must always strive to maintain a healthy profile link.
Links that are naturally added by pages and sites that want to link to your website are known as editorial links. The foundation of receiving earned links is based on a site creating high-quality content that other people would really want to reference. That’s why you need to create content that’s 10 times better than your competition (as already discussed in Chapter 4). Thus, people would naturally want to link to your site if you provide the best and most interesting resource.
And the naturally earned links do not require from your end. All you have to do is create worthy content that’s better than everyone else’s and make people aware of its existence.
It’s always better to get links from sites that are within a topic-specific community in comparison to getting links from a site that’s not even relevant to your site. For instance, if you sell dog houses on your website then getting a link from the roller-skating association wouldn’t really affect your business positively, instead, focus on getting a link from the society of Dog breeders or something along those lines. Moreover, getting links from sites that are topically irrelevant to your business would further confuse the search engines that what your page is all about.
You can tell Google exactly what the topic of your page is about with the help of Anchor text. A page has a higher chance of ranking for certain types of phrases if there are dozens of links pointing to a page with a variation of that word or phrase. However, you must proceed with caution. If you have too many backlinks with the same anchor text, this could give an impression to the search engines that you’re trying to manipulate your site’s ranking in search engine results pages (SERPs).
For instance, if you asked ten of your friends how their day is going and all of them responded with the same phrase, you’d also be suspicious of your friends and question their intentions. The same goes for Google.
Thus, describing the content of the target page using anchor text would help search engines understand what your page is about, but using the same description over and over from multiple different sources would make your site look suspicious. That’s why you need to focus on establishing relevance but avoid spam.
At the end of the day, link building shouldn’t be solely done just for search engine rankings. Instead of caring about the search engine rankings solely, what one should focus on is bringing qualified traffic to your website. That’s why you need to focus on acquiring links from relevant websites where their audience would also find some value in the kind of products you’re providing.
Spammy links are profiles that are full of links that are built using sneaky, unnatural, and low-quality ways. This is why practices such as link exchanging or purchasing links might feel like the easy way out, but doing so is an offense in the eyes of Google and it might put your site at risk. Google has a policy of penalizing sites with spammy link profiles, so, you’re better off staying away from such tactics.
It should be a guiding principle for you to never try to manipulate a site’s ranking in search results. Now you must be wondering why this is so.
In simple terms, Google wants you to earn the links to your site and not just build them using unnatural or spammy ways. In order to not get penalized for an unnatural link or “link spam”, you must avoid the following things at all costs-
One of the most frowned upon ways of getting links is purchasing links from other sites. Google and Bing both want to eliminate the influence of paid links in their organic search results. And although the search engine cannot tell whether the link is organic or paid by just looking at it, there are often enough clues for search engines to be able to detect patterns that indicate the use of foul play.
So, if any of the websites are caught buying or selling links risk facing severe penalties that would most definitely drop their ranking in search engines. Moreover, exchanging services or goods in exchange for links also qualifies as buying links and may land you in trouble with search engines.
You’ve been targeted for a link exchange deal if you ever receive an email stating “you link to me and I’ll link to you” from someone you have no prior connection with. According to Google’s qualities guidelines, they caution against linking with other programs excessively for the sake of cross-linking, but if there’s an indication that this type of link exchange is being done on a smaller scale then there’s no way it would trigger any link spam alarms.
It’s understandable and even valuable for you to link to other people who you partner with, work with in any capacity, or even have any affliction with, and for them to link back to you. However, search engines do mind if this exchange is performed on a mass scale with unaffiliated sites and may lead to your site getting penalized.
Low-quality directory links can be quite a popular source of manipulation. There are a lot of pay-or-placement web directories in existence that may look legitimate but may end up harming your site. These types of directory sites look very similar to the real deal, with large lists of websites and descriptions. Typically, they use their site’s critical keyword as anchor text to link back to your site.
There are many other manipulative ways in which sites try to trick search engines. In most cases, search engines have found algorithmic methods to lessen their impact. In short, it’s not worth it to find ways around search engine guidelines and one must follow the guidelines while linking to other sites.
There are a lot of shapes and sizes of links so to say, but there is one thing that always remains true: Link campaigns must always the unique goals of your SEO. That said, here are some things that you must keep in mind while building backlinks-
1. Find partner and customer links.
You can earn some links quite easily from loyal customers that love your brand and regularly associate with it or some partner that you regularly work with. There are simple ways for you to get links from their site by just sending out partnership badges (graphic icons that show mutual respect for the brand), or you offer to write testimonials of their products. The other site can display both of these offers on their site and can easily link them back to you.
2. Publish a blog.
Engineers at Google personally recommend this link-building strategy. Many experts believe that blogs have a unique ability to contribute fresh content regularly, they can easily generate conversations across the web and can help you earn links & listings from other blogs.
However, you need to be extra careful with the kind of content you’re creating. You must always avoid low-quality guest posting just for the sake of link building. Google advises against creating low-quality content guest posting just to get links.
3. Create unique resources.
It’s not an easy task to create high-quality, unique resources, but it’s worth the effort. If you promote high-quality content in just the right way then it can be widely shared. You can incorporate the following traits to create unique pieces of resources-
If you create a resource following any of these tips then it’s a great way for you to attract a lot of links with just one page. You can also go down the route of creating a highly-specific resource that does not appeal to a broader audience and can just target a handful of websites. This method might get you more links, but it isn’t as scalable in the long run.
If you create something unique then there are chances that people would want to share it with a friend, blogger, or tech-savvy webmaster, who’d be able to see it through those links. Your site getting these extra eyeballs and earned votes of people that matter is a great way to you building trust and authority for your site.
4. Build resource pages.
A great way for you to get links is by building resource pages. For instance, if you’re building links for a company that manufactures pots & pans, you can search for:
And then can figure out which pages could serve as good link targets.
Following this method can also lead to you getting great ideas for content creation. You imagine the kind of resources you could create and these pages would all link to or reference to that.
5. Be more present in your local community.
If you have a local business then engaging in local communities and meeting its customers can result in you getting some of the most influential and valuable links.
So, be sure to-
These are some of the smartest and most authentic ways for you to get good link opportunities.
6. Revamp the old content.
You must have some content on your site that converts the most customers, earns the most traffic, or retain customers on the page for the longest time. You need to take that content and revamp it for other platforms such as YouTube, Quora, SlideShare, Instagram, etc., to move your acquisition funnel beyond Google.
You can also choose to just dust off and update older content on the same platform. If you find a few trusted websites that are all linked to a popular resource that has gone stale, you can simply update the link to let those websites know- it might just lead to you getting a good new link. This can also be done with images. You can reach out to websites that are using your images but not linking back to you, and ask them if they could link back to your site.
7. Be newsworthy.
A very old but respected manner for you to earn links is through the medium of getting the attention of news media, press, blogs, and others. There are a lot of ways for you to get their attention such as launching an exciting product, stating something controversial, giving something away for free, and more.
SEO is mostly about creating an online image for the brand. And this is a great way for you to get some links and also build a great brand image.
8. Come across as genuine and personal.
The most common mistake you can make while reaching out to people for links is not first building a rapport with them through a custom, personalized, valuable, and heartfelt initial outreach email. Make sure your email has enough value that it doesn’t come across as spammy email and could add some value to the lives of others.
The goal of your initial email is to just get a response. Following these tips could help with that:
You might not be aware of this but the methods that you use to build links also indirectly affect and build your brand image. This is why you can look at link building as a medium to increase awareness of your brand, the services or products your offer, or even the topics on which you have authority.
So, you must let share your valuable content and let your audience know about it once your target audience knows of your existence and is familiar with you. Sharing your content on popular social media platforms would not only make your target audience aware of the existence of your content but also would encourage them to make other people in their networks know about your content, which would extend your reach even further.
Is social share similar to getting links? That’s not necessarily true. But getting shared with the right people can eventually result in links. Social shares are a great way for you to promote and increase traffic & get new audience to your site, which would lead to an increase in brand awareness- and eventually, it all leads to building trust and getting links to your site. This connection may seem indirect but social shares nowadays are a great way to build brand trust and get links.
For the most part search engines’ trust in your site depends on the quantity & quality of links your domain has acquired, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t other factors that could have any influence on your site’s authority. Here are some different ways that can build trust for your brand-
You need to focus on your brand reviews. People’s experience with your brand and what they say about it can make or break your image so you need to focus on giving a good experience to all customers.
If you want to establish some authority with the help of reviews then make sure to follow these review rules:
Review spam is something that’s a problem on a global level and there are high penalties and legal action against people who indulge in it. Make sure you’re playing by the rules and offering great service to your customers which would lead to them leaving a good review on your site and building trust and authority over time.
Coming Up Next
We’re almost done with the SEO journey. In the next and final chapter of this guide, we’ll be focusing on how to measure the success of all the efforts that we’ve put in till now, and also the tactics for improving those efforts.
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