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Link building that Google likes to see



6:48 pm on Dec 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator goodroi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

We all know that links influence Google rankings. That is why there have been so many different link manipulation schemes that initially worked at least until Google closed down those shortcuts and handed out a few penalties.

How is a website supposed to handle link building and still keep Google happy?

If you are lucky and have a big budget, then hire a professional link builder. This is not going to be cheap. If someone is offering cheap links, in my experience 99% of the time the links are worthless and/or dangerous. You get what you pay for so expect to pay thousands and thousands of dollars for quality link building.

Instead you can be like me and do your own link building. Here are my top goals:
#1 - Build backlinks that generate traffic and sales for my site
#2 - Expand my brand by adding backlinks to relevant audiences
#3 - Boost my Google search rankings.

Did you notice that boosting my Google search rankings is listed last? I know from personal experience that if I take care of #1 and #2, then #3 naturally happen without me having to do any of the shortcuts I did years ago that really upset Google. This is what I use as my general guide. Here are some specific link techniques:

Directories - I avoid most of them because most of them have no relevant traffic to send to me. If there is a very relevant trade association directory or local business directory that can drive sales then I would submit my site.

Paid Text Links - I love paid links IF they can drive me traffic that converts into sales. That is called smart advertising. Unfortunately most paid links will not drive traffic so I tend to avoid them.

Guest Blogging - Many webmasters seem to not have learned the mistakes of paid text links and from the penalties that Google handed out. If you can keep it relevant then go for it, otherwise be smart and stay away. I like to offer free content to relevant websites that do not have blogs. Just because a webmaster does not blog does not mean they don't like to be given professionally written, relevant content.

Contests/Giveaways - This is another outdated link building technique. The problem with this is you can't control the anchor text or what site will talk about you and that is probably not going to be good for your Google rankings. I prefer to do smaller, more targeted contests and giveaways. This gives me more control over anchor text and which sites I am reaching.

Interviews - This works both ways. Offering interviews to relevant websites is like guest blogging. Just make sure you give great information so your interview turns into really good content that people want to read and click-through to your site. You can also find industry people with big egos and even bigger self-marketing operations. If you interview them and stroke their egos just right, you will end up with having these industry people talk about you and sharing your interview url with their twitter, facebook and blog followings.

Bottom line - GET CREATIVE. You need to offer better value propositions for other websites to link to you. You wouldn't expect great results from a 10 year old used car so why expect great results from 10 year old link building techniques? Freshen up those ideas. Don't worry about rejection. 90% rejection still means 10% of your quality link building is succeeding and that is way better than taking the risky shortcuts that will eventually end up in a Google penalty.


8:40 pm on Dec 31, 2012 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I am sorry but I have to disagree with your entire post. These methods are something you would commonly see pre panda.

What you are mentioning has been mentioned millions of times throughout the internet for the last decade+.

Even hiring a professional link builder is a waste of time. Hiring a professional marketer to spread brand awareness is a more practical approach.

Ever since the panda and penguins, people seem to be still stuck in the "how can I now trick google into liking my backlinks?" instead of asking "What approach should I now be taking?".

You say get creative with backlinks....well this is the bottom line. To get links that will actually make a difference, your site needs to have something of value. If you have an average or non interesting product, no webmaster will want to feature it for their readers on their site. Webmasters want to attract visitors/readers etc.

Your website should be offering something great and new and interesting that webmasters will want to do a write up about it without any incentive. Those are the links that count.

People will reply here that there site is indeed great and interesting. Well let me tell you honestly...people pm me here on these forums all the time asking me for help. They give me their website and its crap. Its scraped content, they have nothing unique or interesting and they are selling the same thing many others are at a ridiculous markup and then scratch their heads when they get hit.

Here is what you need to do and it is a simple list but it is by no means simple.

1. Make something great, improve on something that exists or something that piques interest. Have a design thats easy on the eyes as well. A good design will give you a chance, if you have something great surrounded by a crap design, many wont give you a chance. If you walked into a store to buy something and it was neglected and unpleasant, would you stick around?

2. Brag about how great your website/product etc is in related online communities. if its not great, people will tell you. Tweet out it, tell your friends etc. Spread the word, dont worry about links, focus on your targeted audience.

3. Approach webmasters and explain to them how mentioning your site/product can benefit them and their users...maybe offer a free trial to their readers, sample, sneak preview etc. Perhaps offer them something that is exclusive, people like to feel special.

4. Work on improving your website/product/service as much as you can, have a newsletter interact with users/buyers and get feedback. Find out what people want and do your best to give it to them.

As a "SEO" community we get caught up in how to rank in google and a lot of us tend to disregard great marketing and customer feedback. Make a real business. Be a real business. Take your business seriously and everything else will follow.


5:41 am on Jan 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

@brinked @goodroi
Most of what you both said , not everything, but most of what you both said are a more complete picture of a successful website as a business; for both operator and user.

Throw in some free, regular traffic from some strong keywords and you've got something to grow with.


6:28 am on Jan 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Personally, I kind of choked on " Brag about how great your website/product etc is in related online communities".

I have to waste too much of my time time on deleting posts like that to consider it anywhere close to a valid marketing approach.


7:17 am on Jan 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

@bluntforce - on that I'd heard, and try to practice, a 4 in 5 rule: Tweet/Share 4 generally useful post/story/pics... and 1 that promotes the brand specifically.

My mind works often works in copy and paste, "Most of..." wasn't specific at all.


8:51 pm on Jan 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Seven years seriously in this business has, in my niches, taught me to ignore link building. Take the long term view, build the site for your visitors and the links will come - and naturally as far as G is concerned.


10:02 pm on Jan 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

What google is doing is devaluing links that webmasters can take or buy easily.

Google is putting more emphasis on links that are "earned", usually from sites that are of high quality and that google truly feels does not sell links or give away links cheaply. Anchor text is not as big a factor as it used to be and google is getting better at detecting natural anchors.

As I have switched over to app development, I have actually learned so much about marketing. There is no SEO in mobile apps in the traditional sense. My first app became the number 1 app of its kind simply because I dedicated time and resources into its usefulness and its design. I took feedback from popular social network sites and they ate it up. It spread like wildfire without me needing to do a single thing. The time and resources I put into making a great app was much less of that if I was to do a link building campaign.

You simply can not build links on a massive scale anymore by manipulating google. To get the big number of links you need, you need people to spread the word for you.


10:51 pm on Jan 1, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member


Apart from ideas, what skills do you need to code apps, or are you commissioning the apps from other developers

Ios or Android or win phone ?


6:31 am on Jan 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member jane_doe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

You simply can not build links on a massive scale anymore by manipulating google. To get the big number of links you need, you need people to spread the word for you.

I guess it depends on your personal business model, but for me I would agree with this. I just try to create unique content that attracts natural links these days.


11:12 pm on Jan 2, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member sgt_kickaxe is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 5+ Year Member

Perhaps off topic a little but do link wheels work as backlinks if the sites are related and not pure spam?

Robert Charlton

12:07 am on Jan 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator robert_charlton is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

My emphasis added...
Perhaps off topic a little but do link wheels work as backlinks if the sites are related and not pure spam?

Probably still would be regarded as manipulative, but that's an educated guess. Most link wheels I've looked into are fairly easily spotted, and on the surface, at least, they appear to be manipulative in intent. They fit the profile of the kind of link scheme that Google doesn't like....

Link schemes
http://support.google.com/webmasters/bin/answer.py?hl=en&answer=66356 [support.google.com]

When you add the kicker "if the sites are related and not pure spam", that raises the question for me of what are they doing, then, in a link wheel? (By "related" here I assume you mean by topic, not by ownership).

For link wheel sites not to be seen as spammy, I assume they've got to have independent inbounds on their own, enough to override the closed-network aspect of the wheel, and also to override the probable low quality of many of the participating sites. Is that likely to be the case? Not in the arrangements I've seen.

It's not that these sites necessarily had malevolent intentions. I've seen many that were naive arrangements for mutual backstratching..., not intending to "spam", but not really going out and making it in the big wide world of public opinion.

Some blog roll links might effectively be seen as link wheels. Depends on the frequency, on the quality of the sites on their own, whether anchor text is present, and other intent and quality signals. Same principles I'm sure apply to the degree of reciprocal links a site has.

Relating the question back to the topic of this thread, Google is looking for freely given editorial links, and they're getting somewhat philosophical about what that means, in any type of linking, not just link wheels.

Google is also most certainly not looking at just links alone... it's also looking at traffic and engagement and signs of user satisfaction... so a more efficient approach would be to consider link building that way from the start, and not to see if you can trick Google into falling for the same old tricks with lipstick on them.


4:24 am on Jan 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I have 1 penguin client. 90% of his backlinks consisted of link wheels links.

We removed most of them and he has recovered to #11 (he was #1 pre penguin) from being on page 10+ after penguin. He does not see this as a recovery since he has not regained the number 1 ranking.

So as for linkwheels...stay away...you have every reason to believe that this is something that is a part of penguin as it very well should be.


5:39 pm on Jan 3, 2013 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member

Google is also most certainly not looking at just links alone... it's also looking at traffic and engagement and signs of user satisfaction... so a more efficient approach would be to consider link building that way from the start, and not to see if you can trick Google into falling for the same old tricks with lipstick on them.

Agreed. This may be my bias because my background is traditional marketing, not SEO. At one time, marketing wasn't good enough because the algo didn't know if your users were pleased or not.

I believe in the past two years, they've gotten much, much better at recognizing user satisfaction. I think traditional SEO is dead, and SEO is now merging with traditional marketing. Reach people who will like your site and convert in some way or another, and Google will follow.

I'll tell you something I've learned. Whenever I write a really exceptionally awesome page, I'll alert authoritative sites in my niche. They'll link out to me, and thousands of people will visit in one day (and then other sites will link as well). That's all great for traffic and earnings, but guess what? If the visitors coming from the authority site respond to my page with enthusiasm - leaving comments, bookmarking/subscribing, sharing it socially - that site will rocket up the SERPs. Sometimes to #1 inside a day. But if the response from visitors is lukewarm (even when content is great, it isn't always going to grab people), so is the position in the SERPs. Is Google somehow assigning different PR from two links, both from the same authority site? That seems unlikely. I think they're tracking the user response, and when I generate a great user response, I get higher in the SERPs.

So that is my idea of link building. Aim for the user response, not just the traffic or the link itself. Try to create a slew of positive user response signals - that's what Google is looking for.

Further anecdotal evidence: of all my sites, my Penguinized one is the least capable of generating a great user response. It's a good site, it's just not great - visitors liked it, but didn't love it. Since Penguin hit in April, there have been no significant changes to my backlink profile - no links lost or gained. But I'm improving the site, and users are sharing and converting more enthusiastically... and I'm slowly gaining in the SERPs. I don't think it's anything to do with pagerank, since the links haven't really changed. I think it's purely down to user satisfaction, and once this site is really pleasing users, the SERPs will reflect that.


1:24 am on Jan 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

@brinked thanks for sharing your experience.

The site of your client recover in the last Penguin update? Which is the anchor text distribution?

When you say linkwheels, you mean: "a pattern of links which flow from one website to another which would finally link to a targeted website requiring promotion." ?

The links that you removed were in other sites or in the site of your client?

Thank you!


4:35 am on Jan 4, 2013 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

I sometimes wonder whether people actually read posts, or just respond to whatever element is in a post that happens to divert their attention.

I was looking around a site with a PR8 homepage today thinking it was time to get another link from them. There are plenty of arguments about how Pagerank isn't significant and doesn't matter, I sometimes agree.

I'll take a link from a high PR, relevant and trusted site anytime I can get one, my choice of anchor is even better. I won't spend much time cultivating what I consider low value links though.

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