As time marches on the techniques used for SEO must keep pace with the search engines and their algorithms. 2012 has proven to be an exceptional year with regard to how building links has changed. I’ve long held the view that the vast majority of directory links, blog comments and articles have been worthless, however this year has proven this to be right and even taken it a step further: Now many sites have been penalised for bad link building practices, since the Penguin update which happened towards the end of April this year.
I have heard stories of SEO companies having to start again with some of their clients sites because the damage was so bad that they lost all their web traffic and the previous link building techniques were so bad that the damage is irreparable. Fortunately none of our clients have experienced this, with the slight exception of those who had landing pages designed to attract clients from different regions (and they were warned that this would not work in the long term), although even those have only lost a few positions at worst, compared to many I have heard about who lost all their ranks. I appreciate that there is a degree of gaming the system when optimising a site, but if you stick to a few good practices and focus on the long term, you will avoid a penalty when the algorithm does change.
Here are a few best practices for building backlinks in 2012
- The Best Links are Genuine Editorial ones, this is what happens naturally when you write great content, offer something for free or generally create something which other webmasters and blog writers want to tell people about and therefore create a link to your content completely of their own accord. These are the kind of links which Google must have had in mind when they began to develop their linking system and authority passing algorithms. As a result I suspect they can identify these links quite easily and undoubtedly cary more weight. The great thing about these is if you write something which people start to link to, it will rise up through the ranks and be found by more and more people and likely accumulate even more links.
- Guest Posting, this is when you offer to write content for somebody else to put up on their site, this helps them by expanding the content on their site and perhaps getting an expert opinion on a specific topic, of course you get a link back for your trouble. If possible add this link in the article itself, back to a related resource on your own site, although sometimes people will only want a “post by” type credit at the end, but that’s fine too.
- Begged Links, years ago this was a really had way to build links, just contacting other website owners and asking them to link to you, however, people are starting to realise the benefits of linking out to other great content, so provided that you have that great content it seems a bit easier. Ironically, less people seem to be doing it these days, favouring the easy approach of directories, web2 profiles and comments, so take advantage of the lul, it won’t last forever. Yes you will get most emails completely ignored but every now and then you’ll pick up a great link.
- Social Media Profiles, whilst these will undoubtedly be no follow they can drive huge amounts of traffic if you are active on social media, so they are worth a quick mention here.
- Reciprocal Linking, It used to be the case that people had a big list of links on a page and emailed each other saying “if you link to me, I’ll link to you”, just to be clear that doesn’t work any more, however, if someone links to a page on your site and sometime later you link back out to them, from and to different pages, this does seem to work, especially if you are using nice varied anchor text.
What you should be doing is having a nice varied linking profile, if possible let it build completely naturally, this will provide the variance of anchors which is required too.
Oh, and if you think this is a good article, why not link back to it yourself 🙂