SEO Link Building

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Link Building Strategies for 2017

It’s fair to say that SEO is not all about link building. However, backlinks remain one of the most important Google ranking factors these days. So, it’s incredibly important for you to focus on attracting quality links to a website.

There has been a lot of talk about link development in the web. Link building methods fall into two categories. There are White Hat and Black Hat link building techniques. White Hat link building methods (also known as natural link building) have a positive impact site’s rankings and provide long-term SEO results. Black Hat link building methods (also known as spammy link building) negatively affect your search engine rankings. We at 15DegreesNorth are committed to using White Hat link building techniques in our SEO strategies.

Link development is a key component of off-page SEO. It’s worth noting that building links for a website is no easy task. So, you’ll probably find it difficult to attract good backlinks to your site if link development is something that you have never done before. That’s why it would be better for you to hire SEO professionals to get link building work done.

Key Differences between “Natural” and “Unnatural” Backlinks


“Natural” and “unnatural” backlinks are two different types of incoming links. However, both “natural” and “unnatural” link building techniques affect site’s rankings.

Nowadays, Google algorithm is aimed to reward sites that provide visitors with valuable content and great user experience. If you provide content that adds value you’ll definitely improve your site’s user experience. On the other hand, if you publish interesting content on your website you’ll be able to attract backlinks to your site in a natural way. This type of backlinks will help you boost your site’s rankings and increase your organic search traffic.

It’s also important to know that Google doesn’t want to take into account any kind of manipulated incoming links. However, the search engine algorithm doesn’t always recognize manipulated backlinks. That’s the reason why some of online marketers still continue to use spammy link building methods in their SEO strategies. They just ignore the idea of using interesting content for attracting good backlinks to a website. Actually, it’s a big problem! Keep in mind that manipulated backlinks can decrease the popularity of a website in the search engine significantly one day. Obviously, bad backlinks should be avoided!

Nevertheless, it makes a lot of sense to focus on building natural backlinks. Google makes it clear that natural backlinks have a profound positive impact on site’s rankings. As a result, Google will generate more organic traffic to your website.

The reality is, building backlinks that Google would like to consider as a ranking factor is no easy task. However, it’s pretty easy to build links that Google choose to ignore. That’s the reason why so many SEO professionals can’t resist the temptation to build spammy links.

According to the opinions of so many Google critics, search engine optimization is a big threat for Google AdWords. It’s clear that the company is interested in maximizing the revenue from Google AdWords. And of course, Google will do everything possible to prevent any kind of SERP’s manipulation. The critics of Google also believe that the main goal of Panda and Penguin algorithm updates is to punish websites, but not to improve the quality of search. Such updates will stimulate business owners to purchase Google AdWords services.

Obviously, using automated SEO software and tools for building links is something that should be avoided. If you attract low quality links to a website and try to manipulate search engine rankings Google may consider this as “unnatural links”. As a result, your site will face search engine spam penalties.

Unnatural links are likely to work well until the next Google algorithm update. The more unnatural links your site has – the more powerful negative impact these links will have on your search engine rankings. The longer you use spammy link building methods in your SEO strategy – the more severe punishment you’ll get in the end.

A lot of SEO experts used spammy link building techniques to improve search engine rankings in the past. These techniques are all about attracting unnatural links to a website. The big problem is that some of SEO experts still continue to use Black SEO link building methods today.

15DegreesNorth makes a difference as a SEO company that uses only White Hat SEO methods. We don’t use any type of Black Hat SEO methods which are intended to manipulate Google SERPs. Our SEO professionals are focused on attracting incoming links from trusted and high domain authority websites. Another big advantage is that we always build links naturally by providing content that adds value to users. Such backlinks will certainly help your website rank high organically.

Link Development Methods are Constantly Changing


Let’s imagine that you have written an article of 300 – 400 words and published it on numerous low quality blogs. By doing so, you’ll be able to attract high amounts of unnatural links to your website. Your website is unlikely to get top search engine rankings for target keywords if you use a link building strategy of this type.

It’s worth noting that easy and quick link development methods like this one don’t work anymore! The reality is Google has evolved significantly. The search engine has updated its algorithm and made it difficult for website owners to use spammy link building techniques for manipulating site’s rankings. Google Penguin and Google Panda updates became a huge problem for optimizers who used to apply Black SEO methods for manipulating site’s rankings.

“Link Building is Dead” is the Myth or Reality?


The big question is – can link building still be used to improve site’s rankings nowadays? Actually, this question can be answered in two different ways. On the one hand, Google pays a close attention to site’s incoming links. That means that if done right link building can greatly contribute to the success of your SEO strategy. On the other hand, if you choose to attract “unnatural” links to your website then link building is dead.

Providing high quality content on a website will help you attract high quality links naturally. Such backlinks will boost your website’s Google ranking. Finally, your site’s search traffic will increase significantly. Google ranks well websites with backlinks from high domain authority sites. On the other hand, the search engine is likely to ignore unnatural links (low quality links).

It’s incredibly important for website owners to create high quality content these days. A website with non-original content is unlikely to rank well for keywords in Google search engine.

Content is the King, but don’t forget about backlinks

It’s clear that Google gives a preference to sites with valuable content. High quality content is expected to become even more important to your site’s SEO in the nearest future. However, backlinks remain one of the most important Google ranking factors in 2017. That means that great content is unlikely to rank well if your site doesn’t have high quality links. Every quality link will increase the popularity of your website in search engines. So, the more quality backlinks your site has – the better!

Hot Sites and Cold Sites


There are two types of websites – hot sites and cold sites. The big question is – what is the difference between hot sites and cold sites? Let’s try to find the right answer!

Hot sites are indexed well by search engines and their web pages rank high on Google. Such websites have unique and valuable content, well-optimized pages, easy-to-navigate structure and, most importantly, quality backlinks. Hot sites gain search engine trust.

Cold sites don’t get high amounts of search traffic. Content published on cold sites are not optimized for target keywords. Additionally, cold sites have a poor linking profile.

It’s not enough to have a hot site to achieve top search engine rankings. Hot sites will rank high in search engines only if their web pages are relevant to the target keywords. If a web page becomes irrelevant to a keyword then it’s likely to lose search engine rankings and traffic.

Let’s imagine that you would like to achieve top search engine rankings for targeted keywords. When ranking sites Google pays a close attention to domain authority and relevance of web pages. First of all, you need to optimize web page’s content and architecture for target keywords. It’s also important to provide visitors with great user experience. And of course, you need to ensure that your website meets search engine requirements.

Google Doesn’t Like Sites with Paid Links


Google doesn’t like sites with paid links for obvious reasons. Obviously, buying links is an easy way of manipulating search engine rankings.

Without a doubt, paid links negatively affect the quality of Google’s search!

If a website doesn’t have valuable content and doesn’t provide visitors with great user experience then it’s unlikely to get links naturally. Therefore, such a website will not rank well in Google. However, if you buy links for such a website you’ll be able to improve its rankings dramatically. Paid links can help a website with low quality content get a top Google ranking.

Obviously, it’s pretty easy to buy links for a website these days. On the other hand, building natural backlinks to a site is no easy task. Most likely that you have heart “the war on paid links”. That means that Google would like webmasters to attract links to a website naturally.

Paid Links Negatively Affect Your Site’s SEO


Let’s imagine that a hot site provides a link to a cold site. As a result, we’ll have a new cold site.

Google will figure out that link building process is unnatural.

However, you’ll be able to improve your search engine rankings dramatically if your site gets a backlink from a website like Wikipedia. It’s worth noting that Wikipedia is a high domain authority site. Another big advantage is that Wikipedia is an informational site. Such a backlink will look good in Google’s eyes.

How Does a Hot Site Look Like?


Actually, it’s easy to recognize a hot site. A hot site comes with certain features.

It’s easy to get top Google rankings for a hot site. You’ll need to do on-page SEO properly and optimize web page’s content for the necessary keyword.

Hot sites attract backlinks naturally. Other sites provide links to hot sites.

Hot sites don’t provide links to cold sites. So, if you get a link from a cold site then such a link will contribute greatly to your site’s SEO.

How to Build Links for a Site in the Way Google Loves


Oftentimes, many webmasters find it hard to attract links to a site naturally. Building natural links requires a lot of patience and time. You need to provide website’s visitors with great user experience and valuable content.

At 15DegreesNorth, we don’t try to get as many links for a website as possible. Our professionals don’t use spammy link building techniques. We are focused on attracting only high quality links which can help you boost your site’s SEO. After we finish link building work, your website’s Google rank will improve. Plus, you’ll get long-term SEO results.

How to Create Link Building Strategy That Works


Creating an effective link building strategy is crucial for your SEO success. It’s important for you to get backlinks from high authority sites. On the other hand, you need to attract links from sites which are relevant to your niche!

Keep in mind that you can also provide links to other sites. However, you shouldn’t provide links to irrelevant sites and sites that look spammy.

It also makes sense for you to take advantage of competitor research. By doing so, you’ll be able to figure out what methods your competitors use to build links for a website. If these methods work well for your competitors they are likely to provide you with great results as well. Finally, you’ll be able to make important changes to your link building strategy.

It’s widely known that great content quickly spreads in popular social networks. So, if people find your content interesting they will certainly like and share it on social media. Take advantage of social networking to promote your content effectively and, most importantly, attract good natural backlinks to your website.

While it is important to get links from high quality relevant links, you should also realise that any editorial link received will be a good one, regardless of the page or site you are getting it from.

Focus your link building strategies on acquiring quality inbound links and to avoid any possibility of being served with a notice for a penalty or manual action in Google Webmaster Tools. Remember, it can be hard or almost impossible for your site to recover from a penalty or manual action.

Don’t go overboard with link begging emails, it can annoy a lot of people, especially if you are not offering them a good piece of content and refrain from overwhelming any friends you make on social networks with constant sales messages.

You should be patient and play the long game. Help others get what they want today and some will help you get what you want in the future.

The more you abuse certain links and depending on the number of people abusing those very links, it can turn toxic very fast. Do not join such a link herd because as a first time member you will be the weakest link in it.

If you are employing automated or manual link building and it results in an unnatural link for your website, remember that Google does not want to count such links and it might come back to bite you in the near future. Be extremely cautious if you are looking to outsource your link building in 2017.

It is important to remember when you are trying to get links that you should also own ‘assets’ that are worthy of being linked. For example, the pages on your website should be considered as the intended destination of the link you are receiving.

What Do Search Engines Themselves Think About Link Building?


Which Search Engine Offers The Best Advice?

Unless you consider GooglePlus to be the number one ranking parameter, you will soon realise that the single most important thing you can do to improve the ranking of a page that is already of a high quality and relevant is building high quality links to your website.

This is true as long as you have not resorted to any shady or spammy practices in the past. If you have, it is important to first dissociate yourself from the unnatural links you have acquired, before you build a high quality link profile.

In competitive niches, you can always follow Yahoo or Bing guidelines for link building to rank in Google, but make sure that you do not try to rank in those search engines by using Google webmaster guidelines as a rulebook.


Why? That’s because doing such a thing might get you penalised in Google, which lets be honest nobody wants.

Bing and Yahoo have recently encouraged webmasters to reach out for relevant links to improve the rank of their websites

Here’s what they have had to say about link building.So, here is the two bottom line, Bing and Yahoo which are two of the top three search engines in the UK have encouraged webmasters to ask for relevant links while the big daddy of them all Google says you will be penalised if you do such a thing.

It is easier to rank in Bing as compared to Google these days and Bing SERPs, which also powers Yahoo, appear as though they still operate on the pre-penguin stage of Google SERPs

Clarifying Bing’s Position On Building Backlinks


Here’s the gist of what Bing is asking smart webmaster’s to do based on a post on their search blog.

First you get in touch with webmasters of other sites that are related to yours and let them know about your site.

If you have worked hard and instilled a lot of value in your site, it will be evident to other webmasters and they will want to help out their own customers by linking out to you, which is the bedrock of link building in itself.

Relevance is one of the most important factors for end users. If the content on your website does not harmonise with the content of the other website, the link you have received will diminish in value or in some cases they might be completely ignored.

Since relevance is the most important factor, it is highly valued and sites that are relevant are thought to be the best. Sites that have great content, a great history of using just White Hat SEO practices and numerous relevant and quality inbound links are considered to be an authority in their niche.

If any sort of manipulation is detected, Bing applies a spam rank factor to that site, based on the type and extent of the infraction. A site with a high spam rank factor will be penalised. If the infractions are excessive, the site can be temporarily or permanently removed from Bing’s index.

Bing’s stance on link building is clear, they are not as concerned about the type of techniques a webmaster employs to build links, but are more interested in the intention behind the practices being implemented. In most cases the tactics employed for link building lays bare the intent behind it.

The fact the Bing uses a spam rank factor is curious and revealing. It might be just as possible that Google uses a similar approach for penalising websites.

Great Content Makes It Easier To Build High Quality Links


Sometimes link building is simple and straightforward. All you need is great content and other sites will start linking to yours.

The content you create does not have to be path breaking, but it should be unique and original. The more content you add to your site, the more people will link to it if not now, then in the future. We still receive links on pieces written a long time ago and therefore our advice to webmasters will be to always add more unique content to their site.

How-To articles, blogs that discuss common problems in forums or on online chat rooms can help you acquire the right kind of links to your website. Some call it timeless, while some consider it to be ‘bait’ to lure the right kind of links.

Detailed content that is high on quality is always going to be shared on social media platforms and will always get you links at some point in the future, as long as you present it with a unique twist to make it more interesting. Once you acquire sufficient links to rank in the top 3 results of a SERP, you have positioned yourself ideally now to attract more natural links.

Where Should You Start?


Why not start with the FAQ section of your website (if you don’t have one already then make one). Can you improve that page?

Each question on the page can be an individual page of content, which is well written and optimised with a good title. Or maybe you can turn your previously short and concise FAQ into one long and detailed content piece that focuses completely on the topic at hand.

You should ask yourself, what your target audience wants to know about your business, products, industry and the message you are putting out. Create content that addresses this need for information.

It becomes easier to attract good quality links if you have a lot of high quality content on your website. You can still rank without quality content, but it comes at a cost and an obvious handicap, something that can cripple your site in the long term.

Remember, that all the content you create should not just be about your company and your products that can bore your visitors (let’s face it nobody is as fascinated with your business or product as you are). Create content that is engaging, informative and entertaining.

Always remind yourself that Google wants to reward unique websites. This means that the content you create should be original, detailed and informative, the kind Google wants to show to users in its organic results, making it the type of content Google wants to rank.

Why You Should Always Link To Real Sites


Defining what a quality link to people can be difficult sometimes, but just to keep it as simple as possible let’s consider a natural link to be a good one.

It is not mandatory that all the links you receive should be relevant to the specific niche you are operating in.

The site you are earning a link from (also known as the linking site) does not have to be an authority in its niche and the links you are receiving do not necessarily have to be identical to the ones your competition is receiving.

Even if you have received a link from a totally unrelated but well managed site, it is a great link for your website. Remember any editorial link is a good link.

The one thing you should be wary of is accepting a link from a website that only exists to provide links to other sites.

Acquiring links from sites that exist only to give other sites links and to boost the SEO of a website can be dangerous for you, especially now in 2017 as Google seems to have gotten into a habit of going after a lot of these link scheme websites these days.

We love earning our links through conventional and accepted white hat practices. However, there are still quite a few experienced link builders who utilise manufactured links on the sites they are working on, as long as spam still prevails in Google’s listings, such practices and practitioners are still going to be prevalent.

Our link building strategies are predicated on how we can acquire links from real sites, the ones that have domain authority and trust. The more authority a site has the better it is from a link building perspective.

In an ideal scenario we would want the following:

  • We do not just want a link from a handy links page, but so long as the links page is an important resource and not misusing anchor text, it is still a useful link, perhaps even a great link.
  • We definitely would not want our links anyway near or on a site that is openly selling links, as more often than not such links will affect our rankings in the long term.
  • We would want our link to be on a site that is indexed by Google meaning that it is a legitimate website that is ranking for what it specifies in its title tag.

Earning relevant contextual links is something every link builder craves, but as long as a link is on a good domain, has a high PR and is not misusing any anchor text, it is a good link for us.

If you are looking to increase the real Pagerank of your site, ensure that the pages linking to you have PR, are able to transfer it and are inserting your link in a way that makes it the focus of the article.

To achieve this you might need some experience or maybe rely on specialists with the requisite level of experience and expertise. You will naturally get PageRank if you focus your energies on creating spectacular or compelling content on your website and this can be in any medium that you can think of.

By employing the techniques mentioned above, you can develop a natural link profile for your website, one that will most likely stand the test of time (and algorithm updates) and deliver long term SEO benefits for your website.

Our focus is to get high quality but unique links for the websites we are working on compared to the links the competition is acquiring and to do that we do not rely on a lot of link building tools, just our expertise, experience and knowledge of Google.

We would rather find creative original solutions to find new links then be ever reliant on the backlinks our competitors receive (But you should still never ignore the research). It helps us build the kind of online brand we want for a website, the kind that Google wants these days.

Researching the competition can be a great way to get inspiration, but instead of focusing on getting the same link, we like to identify quality-linking patterns by filtering out rival backlinks.
We make sure that our sites house better content, provide better user experience and attract links from real, high domain authority websites.

Are Off-Topic Links To A Website Counted?


The simple answer to that is yes, it is counted. Many internet marketing and SEO blogs will churn out a high volume of relevant content to build a resource all around a specific subject. Why even Google tells you to employ a similar approach.

What you probably won’t hear is that you can increase your traffic or attract a higher number of quality links to your website by writing about something off-topic but timely, capitalising on a need for information even if it is slightly off-base for your niche.

Writing news stories about related niches is still a great way to acquire some natural links to your website.

We have sometimes written off-topic on important news stories to earn links. Why? That’s because it helps us acquire links from authority sites who would traditionally have no reason to link to our website.

We have received high PR links, editorial links and sometimes links from South American technical websites just because of a slightly off-topic piece of content that we had created. You could say we acquired some of the links because of our domain authority, but also the links we received further helped us cement our position as an authority in our niche.

When you create engaging off-topic content for less competitive search fields, it can be easier to rank on the first page of a SERP, which can assist in you in picking up more natural links to your website.

The Best Way to Earn Natural Links? Easy, Be On Top Of a Google SERP


Honestly, ranking on top of a Google SERP makes natural link building all the more straightforward. You won’t believe the sheer number of natural links you can attract by just being the top organic result on a SERP. Over time it can be a great way to earn natural links.

Therefore, the strategy should always be to rank high and fast for as many keywords as possible. This includes targeting long tail keywords and to do that you need quality in-depth content on your website. If you are trying to build links around 500 word articles, it is unlikely to yield positive results from a long-term perspective.

Acquiring natural links from trustworthy sites help rank your new content. A natural link acquired from a trustworthy site or one that has more trust than your site, will be nothing but beneficial for you.

When you get a trusted site to link towards yours, some of the trust that Google places on the linking site gets transferred to your site, which raises your overall trust levels.

This might not provide an immediate or visible boost to your new content, but long term it is going to be worth its weight in gold.

If the off-topic site links to yours with good or high volume keywords, then there is nothing better than that.

The key is to pull it off in a way that gives you the most benefit without giving Google any reason to become suspicious. Of course, you cannot write about something that is completely off base from your operating niche and expect to gain authority links from it.

Every now and then you can create content about something off-topic, to get better links and to drive a lot of traffic to your website which otherwise you would never have received because of the limited scope of the niche you are operating in.

If you are clued in and can be bothered to do anything, you can take advantage of any situation to earn links that are unique just to your site, which none of your competition possess. Try it, write a quality if slightly off-topic article on your site and the response you will get via quality natural links will definitely surprise you.

Do Some Links Affect A Site’s Rank In Google SERPs?


Any link that sends you additional traffic should be considered a good link. But what are quality links, what are termed as good links and what links are just plain useless in terms of giving your site a boost in Google SERPs?

First things first, the quality of a link depends on two factors, the page it is found on and the website it is on.

The following factors play an important role in determining whether a link is useful or not:

  • Is the site on which the link is on trusted?
  • Is the page on which the link is found trusted?
  • Has Google indexed the page?
  • How many links point specifically to the link your page is on?
  • Is the link visible, will people click on it?

Any link received on a high PageRank domain should not be thought of as a useful link. More than the link, it is the page you should consider when determining whether the link is a good one or not.

Testing Google

Initially Google used to let webmasters know if a link received was being counted or not through its cache results. But, Google removed these notifications in November 2011.

On the whole we found these cached messages to be misleading, but the information provided by these pages were always useful, especially when we were trying to analyse unusual ranking results by looking at certain backlink profiles or when analysing certain false positive ranking results, which helped us figure out how Google was operating.

This feature was also helpful when testing for certain things, for example first link priority.
The cached information is also useful when you are trying to figure out why a page is ranking so well for a particular keyword, especially if the keyword was not on that page.

This information also provided webmasters with a peek on back linking strategies that worked. But like always Google had to put a dampener on the proceedings. These days Google’s cache displays the following information

Which Links Are Worth Addressing?


To ensure long term ranking benefits for your website ensure the following:

  • That you have a light mix of targeted anchor text links
  • Unfocussed URL citations and anchor text links in your link profile

How can you achieve this?


By following these guidelines:

    • Do not consider internal links as the most important links for your website, but saying that it is best place to start. To get the right kind of links to your site you need a good working site. Google loves websites that have an easy to use internal architecture that consists of numerous links pointing to each other on a particular page. We prefer to use a lot of in-content links and a lot of useful content, especially if Google is counting only the first link on each page. Ensure that your important pages are internally linked often and more importantly make sure that Google indexes them first.
    • Try to get links from high authority or brand sites for example, mainstream news sites because they are trusted by a Google and have a lot of quality links to them.

  • Another high PR link you can receive is through a government resource page or maybe a university page that will give your site a great boost.
  • Links received from non related but non-abusive sites can be handy in improving your PR and SERP ranking.
  • Link received on a blog post can be good but can sometimes diminish in value if you have a very messy site architecture.
  • Social media site links. As a ranking signal by itself it is not the strongest, but what it does do is make sure that your website gains more visibility which in turn helps you attract natural links.
  • Links received from a useful links page. Such a link can be of low quality many a time, but in some cases it can be a real high quality link. It all depends on the ‘intent’ of the website and the quality of the website the link is on.
  • Reciprocal links. This link building tactic has often been abused and a lot of times it gives you very low quality links, but sometimes it is just a normal part of your overall link profile.

Links that you should look to avoid include any link that is self-generated or appears self-generated or is located in a site that has only made self-made links. Ignore any rankings benefit that you could receive through the use of such links, if you continue to use such a link building strategy and your intent about it becomes evident, it might very well lead to a possible Google penalty. Here’s some other tactics that we strongly recommend you avoid:

  • Dofollow Blog Comments- A penalty causer if ever there was one
  • Blogrolls and site wide links- used to be good once upon a time for transferring PageRank, but considered as penalty material these days.
  • Using article submission services- Penalty material
  • Widgets-Penalty material
  • Unnatural site-wide links
  • Any unnatural links
  • Any kind of paid links

Honestly speaking there is still a lot that you can get away with when building a link profile. It all depends on your intent or what Google interprets as your intent when building a link profile for your website.

Nofollow links like the kind you usually find on blog comments are not typically counted as links. However, you can use them to generate greater traffic if you link it to a popular blog or comment on one. A few optimisers believe that Google algorithms do in fact follow nofollow links in certain scenarios. Our SEO strategies are not dependent on no-followed links in anyway, if they do well we consider it to be an added bonus.

To get the right kind of links you need to ensure that site is well structured with strategically optimised title tags, unique in-depth content and an easy to use internal site architecture.

Just being popular is not enough for your link profile, you also need it to be unique and relevant. Generally, the easier it is to get a particular type of link the less value it has for your site in the long run.

How Safe Is It To Acquire Reciprocal Links From Unrelated Websites?


Often we receive unsolicited emails from businesses that ask for reciprocal links between our site and theirs and the explanation given for such a request is “because it will improve the SERP rankings of both websites”. We usually ignore any such requests and advise you to employ a similar stance when faced with such a request.

We devote a lot of our time and resources in trying to develop a natural link profile and in our many years of SEO experience we have rarely found a useful link in such link bartering schemes. Just for the record even Google is against such an approach, here’s what they have got to say about it;

Reciprocal link exchanges are rarely of much SEO benefit to a site and therefore for us it is not worth the risk of incurring Google’s wrath. If you can just visualize the scenario of what a reciprocal unrelated link does to your entire link structure, you will realise how easy it will be to mess up your SERP rankings through a freely acquired link.

Even if you cant possibly visualise it, let me tell you that Google software’s will be able to do it very easily mainly because it is so obvious. We ignore all spam mail requests for reciprocal links, especially if they are from a site that is totally unrelated to the site we are working on.

Even if you agree to such a request most likely your link will be placed on a useful links page, which again is not going to be of much use to you. Useful links page usually links out to sites that are unrelated, located on a low quality domain that Google considers as spam, meaning that most probably that link is going to be ignored.

Therefore, receiving such a link can prove to be the ultimate exercise in futility for you.Worse if you have too many of such links, you might as well be laying the red carpet to Google’s web spam team.

Unrelated Sites


Does it make any sense from a SEO perspective to link out to unrelated, irrelevant websites? No, there is not. In fact we might go so far as to say that such links can not only be waste of time, they can also potentially be damage causing to your website. Should you link out to other unrelated sites at any other point in time?

You should, but not just to manipulate search engine algorithms and to give your website a big rankings boost. If the page linking out to you is relevant to an article you have written, it is a good and useful link to have.

Should you be wary of unrelated websites linking out to you? No, you should not be unless negative SEO is being employed, so make sure that you check whether that’s the case.

Linking is the whole foundation of the internet. Without links there would be no web, definitely not the one we know and love. There would definitely be no Google if there weren’t any links, so do not be afraid of linking out to other useful sites on the web.

Think of it this way even Google wants (or expects) you to link and will probably thank you for it in some form or the other (fingers crossed!). What you should remember is that reciprocal links will communicate to Google that the two sites are related in some way, do you really want such a thing to happen?

The focus should always be to look for high quality links and it does not matter if you link back or not. One-way links are better in a sense as they show that your site has greater authority, considering that editorially approved links are being directed to your site. Those are the best kind of links for your website to attract.

If you are looking to get links from high authority sites, ensure that you receive the link first, so that you get a rankings boost and a vote of trust from what is essentially a big brand for search engines before you reciprocate that link.

Big brand websites will very rarely require a link back from you, but what you can ensure is that you are linking out in a way that is useful for them.

Reciprocal Links


If somebody links out to you and you don’t link back to them, that’s considered to be a one-way link, which is good as it establishes the authority of your site. If you link back to that site, it’s called a reciprocal link.

If a very trusted site links to your site giving you a great ranking boost, are you obligated to reciprocate with a link? Is there some kind of SEO bro-code at work here?

No, a link to your website does not mean that you have to link back or that you will lose the rankings boost you had gained simply because it does not exactly sync with what Google is trying to do in the first place, at least when its not trying to mint money.

Google cares about a good end product, which means that it is committed to return good results to users in its organic searches. Also, we do not believe that Google will punish you just because you are linking back to a site with online business authority and trust.

Linking back to a site that has just linked to you is a very common practice on the web and almost everybody does it. All these links that your website accrues adds to its authority and trust in Google. You can tap further into this by creating good topical content via a blog, which can be very useful, these days.

Let’s consider an example. Think of a new site, a small site and one that is linking to its industry body. After maybe a year or two the site is now a big player in its niche. But it still has links from the industry body.

Are those links now useless? It shouldn’t be and most experts believe that at some level Google algorithms are smarter than that. We believe that at all times Google will consider the trust and domain authority of a website and think whether or not it has any grounds to not trust it anymore.

We generally do link back to sites with higher domain authority or to ones that are relevant to our target audience. And no, we do not consider reciprocal linking to low quality irrelevant sites as an important ranking factor.

Also, we do not link to sites JUST because they have linked to us. That could have happened maybe because they are linking to any site irrespective of whether it is relevant or not and also not caring if their site is located in a ‘good neighborhood’ (linked with high domain authority sites) or in a ‘bad neighborhood’ (along with low quality spammy sites).

If you link back and find yourself associated with spammy websites, it could lead to a penalty from Google’s web spam team.

Therefore, ensure that you:

  • Avoid getting into link schemes or avoid reciprocal links of low quality.
  • Try to get other sites to link to you first.
  • Don’t hesitate about reciprocating links to sites with domain authority.
  • Do not count reciprocal links as a key part of your link building strategy.
  • Do not link back to a site, just because they have linked to you.

What Is The Best Way To Build Links?


At 15Degrees-North we believe that it is more important to have a great website, one which is well optimised with lots of great content, offering the ideal user experience to all visitors. Basically create an asset that is link worthy first before you start obsessing about the link building method you are going to employ.

Once you are sure of owning one, make sure that you vary your linking strategy to avoid getting low quality links towards your website.

It is the most effective way to not just rank well, but to continue doing it for the long term. SEO is constantly evolving (Google makes sure of that) and the practices you use today to get a site to the top might not be as effective tomorrow.

The ‘content is king’ phrase holds true only if your page is optimised for search engines and if you are able to attract quality inbound links to your website. If you do not manage to do those things, it does not matter how great your content is, your website will be nowhere near the top results of a SERP. Why? Probably because a competitor has beaten you to it by not just creating great content, but by also backing it up with the total SEO package.

Is There Such A Thing As The Perfect Link For A Website?


Every website optimiser will probably have their own view of what a perfect link constitutes and honestly that is why you cannot have a generalised definition about it.

Here are some of the important factors we look out for when building links:

  • Despite what many SEO’s claim Pagerank is still important when you are looking for links. Matt Cutts had once said that the easiest way to get internal pages out of Google’s back up listing (supplemental index) is by assigning PR to those pages. A high Pagerank will mean that your site is crawled frequently by Googlebot, which is great if you are constantly adding new content to your website. Ensure that you don’t trust Pagerank blindly, think of it more as a guide or indicator.
  • Anchor text. This is the text you use within a link. When we are trying to rank for a particular keyword, we make sure that we have a optimised landing page along with a link that includes a keyword optimised anchor text such as “link building expert Leicester” instead of inserting a link that just says ‘click here’. Ensure that you don’t stuff keywords into your anchor text or make an incoherent link just because you were trying to force a keyword into it as Google is trying to rein in all the anchor text abuse that is happening these days.
  • Contextual link within text, surrounded by text in which Google can detect a long list of links, for example navigational arrays. Always try to acquire a link within the text used on a page, so that it appears natural and not spammy. In the most ideal scenario, the text surrounding the link will also be relevant to your webpage. The most sure fire way of generating good links is through good content. By creating good content you force people to link back to your own website. Acquiring these types of links is what every optimiser dreams of which is probably why many buy such links for their website (we don’t).
  • Sites with domain authority also rank high on the ‘trust’ quotient with search engines. Trusted sites do well on Google SERPs because Google trusts them (duh!). How do they acquire such trust? Firstly by ensuring that they do not link out to low quality and spammy websites. That’s why a link from a site with high domain authority is worth its weight in gold in terms of the kind of rankings boost your website receives because of it. How to determine if a site is trustworthy or not? From a purely link building perspective, you can probably interpret trust with the number of quality links pointing to and from a particular page. Put simply, look to accumulate links from sites or pages that already have a lot of high quality links associated with it.
  • The page that is linking to you, is it relevant to the content of your website or the purpose of your business? Think of it this way, if you are a SEO site, are you looking to build links with SEO related websites. Whenever possible we look to build links that is directly associated with the kind of work we do. However, if you receive a link from site that is not directly related to your niche but one which possesses a lot of domain authority, remember that it would always add to your website’s reputation.
  • Hub or neighbourhood. Ever business niche has a network of sites that every small site in the niche links to, an authority hub if you will. This is what we guys in SEO keep calling ‘neighbourhood’. Getting links from these sites will always help you as Google already trusts those sites and some of that ‘trust’ will be transferred to your site. By linking out to these sites, you will also ensure that you are located in the right online ‘neighbourhood’.
  • Any kind of link you can get your hands on. We will accept any link that comes our way, as long as it is not a spammy one or from an unrelated website with less trust then ours. You don’t believe me? Just send us your link and find out whether I am bluffing or not. We do spend a lot of our time and effort to ensure that we attract good quality links but that does not mean you always get what you want. As long as the links are relevant they will be welcomed in with open arms.

Ensure that you are not rigid with the link building techniques you are employing.

Keep varying your strategies so that you are never caught out by a sudden algorithm update.

By varying your link building approach you ensure that the links you attract will be of benefit for your website from a long term perspective.

Keep reminding yourself ’what works today might get you in trouble tomorrow’.

Also, by employing a varied multi-pronged link building strategy, you can make sure that none of your competitors can reverse engineer what you are doing and use it for their own websites.

Strive to get sites with high domain authority to link with you and for that it is important to remind yourself that you should always, always steer clear of unnatural links.

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