John Scott on Link Building

Back in 2001 ~ 2002 and thereabouts link building was simple. If you wanted to rank for widgets, all you had to do was spam some guestbooks with links pointing to your web page with widgets as the anchor text.

Seriously, rankings were easier to pick than apples from a tree.

As Google’s algorithm advanced, search engine optimization professionals who were stuck in 2002 found their techniques to be ineffective and even counterproductive. Some SEO’s started claiming that links didn’t matter anymore, even though all evidence is to the contrary.

You see, Google is still running link based algorithms. Google, however, wants to count links which were meant to be legitimate “votes” for a web page. Google does not want to count links as votes if those links were placed on a web page for monetary reward, or as spam.

Google would ideally prefer it if website owners did not buy links.

Website owners, on the other hand, have an obligation to promote their sites and be responsible stewards of their investment.

So how do we buy links intelligently?

1. Buy links from websites which exercise editorial integrity.

Google themselves recommend webmasters submit to Yahoo! Directory, which is nothing more than buying a link.

From Google’s Webmaster Guidelines
:

Submit your site to relevant directories such as the Open Directory Project and Yahoo!, as well as to other industry-specific expert sites.

A few directories I recommend: Yahoo!, DMOZ, V7N Directory, Aviva and Umdum.

When evaluating whether or not you should buy a link from a website – whether it be a web directory, or any other site – browse a few pages or more. If they sell links to Viagra sites or debt consolidation sites, even though the site at hand has no connection to those topics, then it’s fairly obvious that the website owner is not exercising editorial integrity. Buying links there could trip a filter.

2. Vary Your Anchor Text

A good rule of thumb is to never buy the same link twice. If you are targeting “web hosting”, you can vary your anchor texts like so: web hosting provider, reliable web hosting, quality web hosting, PHP web hosting, affordable web hosting, etc.

One of the easiest filters for a search engine to put in place is one which detects and devalues links with identical anchor texts.

3. Buy Non-Keyword Links

One of the hardest things for the simpleton SEO to do is to buy non-keyword links. If only he could see for himself the rewards of those SEO’s who buy non-keywords links.

But of course, anybody can see those rewards. Just do a search on Google for the keyword of your choice, and then analyze the backlinks of the websites in the top ten. You’ll most likely discover that a surprising majority of those links do not contain keywords.

Click here. <- A fine example of a non-keyword link.

Domain authority rules the SERPs. It has for some time now. Don’t think of links for web pages; think of links for the domain and for establishing domain authority.

4. Avoid Site-wide Links

Footer links aren’t necessarily evil. They just don’t help as much as you might think, and footer links can trip those pesky link spamming filters.

5. PageRank Zero Can Pass Link Weight

Yes, PR0 pages can still pass link weight. In one test, I linked to a webpage with a made up word as the anchor text, from a PR0 page. On the basis of the PR0 link, the linked-to page outranked the linking page on Google.

6. Avoid Automated Link Spamming

People are lazy. Search engines love it.

Automated link spam such as referral log spam, blog comment spam and automated web directory submission to hundreds or thousands of web directories; these all have one thing in common. Automation. They most often duplicate spam and create patterns that are easily detected and devalued by search engines.

Sure, I know it’s tempting, but don’t do it. You might as well just send Google a certified letter confessing to your spam.

7. Image Links And ALT Text

Don’t forget about image links and the attached ALT text. From my experience, image links are not subject to all the scrutiny and filters that text links are subjected to. And ALT text is treated the same as the anchor text of a text link. Yummy.

8. A Link On A Page Is Not The Same As A Link On A Page

Search engines have the ability to see pages like a human would. Google is able to evaluate links with regard to their placement on a web page. Links that are placed in the footer or in an area that is unlikely to be seen by a human visitor carry less weight than links that are placed above the fold.

9. Do NOT Rent Links

One of the first things Google started looking at when they began being more critical of links is the age of those links. Links appear to not pass full link juice in the beginning. It’s like a link is on probation. Once that link stays where it’s put for a while, then it;s given full credit. Or I should say, the web page it links to is given full credit.

Rented links should not form the basis of your link popularity. Permanent, stable links should account for 75% or more of your link profile.

10. Google Tells You Where To Get Links

Do you want to rank for web hosting? Get links from these sites, especially those first ten.

Google has patent’s for algorithms which rerank results based on links within the initial subset, and Google shows you that initial subset.

In Summary

Links remain the most important part of any search engine marketing campaign. Links are SEO. The difference between link building in 2002 and link building in 2007 is that the search engines are better equipped to evaluate those links, and this forces website owners to up their game.

Keep building links, just be smart about it.

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  1. chris-winfieldchris-winfield05-02-2007

    “Keep building links, just be smart about it.”

    Or: Keep BUYING links, just be smart about it.

    Great post John.

  2. John ScottJohn Scott05-02-2007

    Thanks, Chris!

  3. HalfdeckHalfdeck05-02-2007

    Nice post John. One thing I like doing is monitor spam sites that are ranking well. Whatever Google says, if a spam page is ranking high, some of its backlinks are worth a look.

  4. John ScottJohn Scott05-03-2007

    Good point, half.

    Some of those spammers have good link sources. :)

  5. dburdondburdon05-04-2007

    If nobody bought links, then buying them would be an advantage. If everybody buys links then not buying them is a disadvantage. Google says that paid links are out. But as long as some paid links slip through the net, then buying links is a sensible option.

    It may just suppress the price. So I’m looking for discounts.

  6. Thank you John. I came here thru Dosh Dosh and I have found this Link Building article to be very helpful.
    I would like to add your site/blog to my RSS reader but I couldn’t find how to subscribe.
    can you send me your feed address.

    Israel

  7. SEO CompanySEO Company09-11-2007

    Thanks for the nice tips and also Article PR is a great way to build high quality links isn’t it.

  8. King CobraKing Cobra09-01-2008

    Sitting back here in 2008 things have shifted somewhat and this is less cool to put it mildly. It’s no longer about bad paid links it’s pretty much all of them. Of course it’s not wrong unless you get caught but now your competitors may snitch on you or anyone else. The reasoning on Google’s part is sound though even though it’s inconsistent of them to promote things like Yahoo Directory and declare war on the smaller link builders. The fact that Yahoo may not list you even though you paid may have something to do with it though.

    Ken
    King Cobra Poker

  9. ejwisherejwisher10-03-2008

    Yahoo directory is a massive rip off , your not even guaranteed to be included after plopping down $300.00 hard earned income. Link buying can backfire and ruin your site , Ive seen it happen to too many websites to say Its a worthwhile risk. Just my 2 cents.

  10. Great article. I agree that Yahoo is an extremely expensive directory, if they were sitting on high PR pages I would consider getting a listing there.

  11. Akash KumarAkash Kumar09-30-2011

    Now you can add one more to this list guest blogging. which is very popular these days.

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