An Idiot’s Guide to Link Building


Understanding link building for SEO

Link building is still very much an important element of SEO. However, a lot of what previously worked for SEO is now considered bad practice due to the unethical ways of engineering this. Whether you are new to link building or you need to start again with your link building strategy, this simple guide will help you through the link building minefield.

So, what is link building?

Link building is a crucial part of SEO of you want to perform well organically in the SERPs. It’s the practice of growing your network of inbound links (or backlinks) from external websites. If your website has other websites referring traffic to it, it’s considered to be a green tick in Google’s eyes.

But a word of caution, whilst increasing your number of inbound links is the name of the game, these links need to be quality links from genuine sources, and not a vast quantity of poor quality ones.

Why is link building good for SEO?

When a user enters a search query into Google, Google sends robots or spiders to crawl a list of relevant pages on the internet. If your site looks relevant to search, spiders / robots extract the content of those pages and add it to the Google index. This is how Google decides if your webpage is of sufficient quality to be ranked well for relevant keywords. During this, Google will also look at the number of links pointing to that page from external websites and the quality of those external websites.

Generally speaking, the more high-quality websites that link to you, the more likely you are to rank well in search results.

What is considered a poor-quality back link?

Before we look at the types of links you want to attract, it’s prudent to explain the methods that are likely to get you a network of bad quality links. Some of these methods used to be effective in boosting your SEO performance, however following the Google Penguin update in 2012, quality versus quantity was massively shaken up.

Automated directory submissions

Once upon a time, Google’s guidelines made a recommendation to web owners, to get listed within relevant directories. Unfortunately, this led to websites being listed in hundreds of directories, regardless of relevancy. This compromised the quality of the directories and clouded the rue credibility of websites.

Google has since removed this recommendation for their guidelines, however it doesn’t directly state this is a redundant activity. It’s assumed that the use of automated directory listings to give you hundreds of listing at the click of a button, is what they ban.

Link farm inclusions

A link farm is a form of spamming the index of a web search engine (sometimes called spamdexing). Other link exchange systems are designed to allow individual websites to selectively exchange links with other relevant websites and are not considered a form of spamdexing. Either way, both are considered bad practice.

Blog and forum spamming

Blogs and forums make ideal places for spammers to dump links to related or unrelated advertisements, malicious websites, and abusive or otherwise unwanted information. Even if your web page has a relevant fit to the forum topic or blog post, adding an unsolicited link is considered spamming and will not do you any favours.

The above methods generally count as spammy behaviour, where hyperlinks are posted just to increase the number of inbound links you have.This type of practice falls outside of Google’s guidelines and will damage your site’s online credibility.

Since 2011, Google’s Penguin algorithm has evolved to include a sophisticated detection of good quality links from bad quality ones. If your site has a network of poor quality inbound links, it is likely to be penalised with low rankings against your competitors, or worse still, a complete delisting.

What is considered a good quality link?

Building a network of high quality links takes time, but that’s ok. Link building activity that is too quick looks suspicious so don’t worry if you don’t yet have the same number of links as your competitors yet. Your efforts will pay off.

Local citations

Whilst over use of directory listings to gain a link is not recommended, a few essential listings are important. Our advice is to submit your site to the key business listing directories such as yell.com, thomsonlocal and Google My Business. Local SEO is a strong ranking factor and local citations form part of this activity. If in doubt, you can use Moz Local to submit listings to only the key, quality directories.

PR activity

Good SEO means adding new, engaging content to your site regularly. But that’s half the battle. It’s how you outreach it that’s important. You can promote this on your social profiles and obtains links back, although Google looks at these types of back links slightly differently.

If your content is engaging enough, you can earn yourself some coverage on industry related websites and publications, within online guides and

Guest Blogging

Guest blogging is a method of getting your name, brand, and link in front of a new audience. In order to make a success of this, you will need to demonstrate your worth as a blogger within your industry, which means blogging on your own site first. You can then start reaching out to other blogs in your industry whose audience you might want to target.

Overall, trustworthy sites tend to link to other trusted sites. When building links, think of it as a networking with new friends. If you want to build a network of decent, trustworthy people, choose those with a good reputation and not those who are likely to cause you trouble or discredit your reputation.

Stay in good company and build your network of links organically and you’ll pass with flying colours.

Read our blog on link building for small businesses and start-ups.

Do you need some advice on your business’s link building strategy? Call Whitefish Marketing in Folkestone, Kent on 01303 720288 and talk to one of our digital marketing experts.