Link-Building (1)


Think you don’t want a link from that site? Link Building the smart way

Link building is hard work, despite the fact that it can be explained in only 2 simple steps: find a site you want a link from and get a link on that site.

Yeah, it’s that simple. This is actually a quote from a great article about how to be persuasive when building links. In this post however, I would like to focus more on the first step. Namely, I would like to help you decide whether a website you’ve found is one that you really do want a link from.

If the site that you are targetting isn’t an industry leader or a big brand like TechCrunch or Forbes, it might be hard to judge whether it should appear in your site’s backlink profile or not. By considering the following aspects, it will be easier for you to make the right choices during a link prospecting.

Don’t be too obsessed with standard SEO domain Metrics

What most people will likely do at the beginning is check Page Rank, Domain Authority, Trust Flow, etc. to filter out sites whose parameters are not absolutely ideal. Will you find only links from e.g. PR3 or higher or at least DA35 in a “natural” link portfolio? Google wants your link profile to be natural (whether it really is or not) so you need to have links from domains with low SEO metrics, too. Of course there are some basic oddities that should raise some red flags, like a VERY old domain with no Page Rank, or a domain not even indexed in Google.

Screen from: Quick Domain Compare tool by

Take a quick look at a site’s backlinks

I am not encouraging you to go totally overboard and do a comprehensive link analysis, calculate that domain’s “strength”, etc.  This step is rather for basic verification purposes and to make sure there isn’t an enormous amount of obvious spammy links behind the website. You don’t want to be connected to second tier web spam, do you?

Don’t care too much whether it gives a follow or nofollow link

You should not only focus on building links that will boost your rankings and pass some “juice”. A truly natural backlink profile will not be made up of follow links only. Looking for some magical “perfect ratio” between those two types of links and trying to manipulate everything to make it fit isn’t the best way either. What I recommend instead is leaving this parameter to the natural course of events. That will inevitably result in some of them being nofollow and some of them being dofollow naturally.

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Consider the actual relevance of your site to the targeted ones

If the site you are targeting is not relevant to the site you’re promoting, or the niche of the target site  isn’t even connected with yours in any specific way, why would you want to have them linking to you at all?

I am aware that when we analyze real natural links (I mean the ones editorially given by other website owners), we usually find many from unrelated industries. But in your case, it will not be a natural, editor-given link (though admittedly, it will be great if it looks like one)

In the next step of the Link Building process, you are simply going to ask for a link. And that’s why you need to be able to give the webmaster a darn good reason for wanting to link to your page.  So basically, my point is: keep your link prospecting niche relevant.

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Assess the overall quality of that page

Is it generally well-maintained and regularly updated? Whatever the word quality means to you personally, check if you can find it on that specific page. What you are looking for in particular are signs that the person who runs the website really cares about it.

Keep in mind that first impressions can be misleading! Don’t let a site’s slightly old-fashioned appearance put you off. Even if the layout is so, so yesterday, the content and the site in general can still be valuable as a great link source.

Would that link drive traffic to your site?

Of course, the best-case scenario would be that the anchored link actually gets clicked by users, bringing valuable traffic to your site. Not only because this increases your traffic and helps bring in more customers,  subscribers or whatever else your specific goal may be. This is also a great signal for Google that the particular link is well-founded and provides users with a good search experience. So basically, this should be one of the most important ranking factors, and all the more reason for Google to allow this to strongly influence rankings (assuming that isn’t the case already).

No matter whether the traffic on the targeted website comes from organic visibility, social media, paid searches etc. If there is any at all—great! You can assess the approximate traffic by checking the Alexa rank, online visibility in Searchmetrics, or simply looking for any comments or activity signals left by the users on-site.

Is there any social impact, i.e. sharing?

Verifying social signals not only gives you another potential opportunity to get more traffic for your website and benefit from it like I mentioned above. It also speaks volumes about that website’s/blogger’s influence on the industry. A high number of facebook fanpage likes, many twitter followers or numerous social shares garnered by their previous content – all of this tells you that you are dealing with a serious and significant influencer, from which you stand to benefit a lot.

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One more important thing to check before moving on to the outreach phase. Even if you are 100% sure the site is worth the effort, evaluate the real possibility of getting a link there. The situation is quite straightforward when there is a clear heading saying “write for us!”. But if there isn’t any, have a look at external links in any previously contributed content. This will help you define how likely it really is that that webmaster/blogger will be open to linking to your website. It will also save you a lot of time and the frustration of knowing your work was in vain.

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Nowadays, in the era of the Penguin algorithmeach link that you build should be well thought out in order to avoid later troubles, which are never, ever worth it. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure! However, if your site has already suffered and dropped in rankings due to low quality links, you can try out a Penguin recovery technique based on an audit of your links and a redirection. If that’s the case, be sure keep the aforementioned advice in mind in your future link building activities to keep history from, heaven forbid, repeating itself.


  • 25 August 2014

See all articles by Wojtek Mazur

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