How to create the perfect backlink profile for your business website. There has been a lot of doomsday talk in recent years in marketing circles and across a wide variety of online blogs about the “Death of SEO” or how Google’s Panda and Penguin updates killed certain parts of ‘old school’ search engine optimization. Probably the single practice that is trashed the most is building backlinks to your website. “Link building is dead,” many so-called experts say. Those experts are also dead wrong.
While the way one website links to another is viewed by search engines like Google may have changed, and many types of backlinks discounted, the truth is that a site’s backlinks are still extremely important when it comes to getting to the top of Google. Google has always said that they regard a backlink from a relevant website is a measure of popularity for your website. This is as true with niche keywords as it is with local businesses and especially with high competition keywords. The first step to putting together the perfect backlink profile for search engine optimization (SEO) is avoiding damaging links.
What Are Damaging Backlinks?
There are good backlinks, there are ineffective backlinks, and then there are outright bad backlinks. Understanding the difference between these three is critical. Good backlinks help make your website look legitimate, gives it good SEO juice, and can even build authority and help get you to the coveted first page of Google. Ineffective backlinks waste your time and are more likely to backfire with future updates. Bad backlinks, or even a single bad or questionable link, can sink your entire SEO campaign.
So what is a bad backlink? There are a few basic rules to look for to determine what a bad backlink is:
- Any link from an adult or pornographic website
- Any link from a gambling website
- Any link from a hate website
- Any link from a scammy or spammy website
- Keyword anchored backlinks from article directories
- Keyword anchored backlinks from completely unrelated websites
- Any link from a known PBN (Private Blog Network) website
Google is absolutely devoted to hunting down these bad backlinks and not only taking away any benefit they give, but punishing any website receiving them that appears to be trying to manipulate the search engine rankings. You need to avoid them at all cost.
If you end up with these type of backlinks as a result of someone else trying to sabotage you (Negative SEO), or from an aged domain that just has old links pointing to it, then you will want to look up Google Webmaster’s Disavow Tool. This tool allows you to refuse to acknowledge these backlinks, which removes all effects from them, including any penalties that might have been applied to your website for having them. If you need more details on the Disavow Tool, here is an extremely helpful article from Moz. BTW, there are two examples of good backlinks right there. 🙂
Understanding the Anatomy of a Backlink
Understanding the basic anatomy of a backlink will help you quickly identify how to build up a link profile that can truly help you. There are two main things to concentrate on when creating backlinks:
- The anchor text of the link (brand vs. keyword vs. URL vs. none of the above)
- Where the phrase comes from
The anchor text is whatever text is used for the link. In the old days the most valuable backlinks were ones that were your website’s most valuable keyword or most valuable few keywords. So if you were selling left handed smoke shifters (plenty of old Boy Scouts will love that reference), then the best anchor text was “left handed smoke shifter.” Now over-use of that direct keyword based anchor text will normally get your website penalized, so it should never be used more than 5% of time, at most.
A brand based anchor text would be a company or website name. “John Smith’s Left Handed Smoke Shifters” or “Left Handed Smoke Shifter Review Site.” These were considered the second-best anchor text to have, and even after the Penguin and Panda updates they are still a good way to go. This is especially true for blogs with a specific name or a company brand. The Google algorithm is advanced enough now (and the other major search engines are catching up) that they don’t need keyword based anchor text to know what your website is about. As long as your website or blog has good on-site SEO, they know.
Then there are URL based anchor text, which is just what it sounds like. The backlink is the site or page’s URL (web address). This type of text can have a little bit of a bonus if your brand has a major keyword in it, and it should help with your online branding. This is also a safe type of text to use for a backlink, which makes it a good change up with those brand-based anchor text.
Finally, there is anchor text that is general. These aren’t necessarily to improve any ranking so much as they are there to make your link profile look much more natural and help prevent you from getting penalized by Google. This would be for anchor text like: “This website,” “Click here,” or “Check this out.” They don’t build up any keyword rankings, but It helps to make your website look like it’s naturally getting backlinks (which is the way Google wants to see it happen)
The next step is to get the right mix of backlinks. It used to be that pure numbers could get the job done, but trying the quantity strategy nowadays is going to have the opposite effect of what you want. At best it will be ineffective and at worst it will get your website de-indexed as a penalty by Google. You need to get a variety of links from good, accepted sources.
Great sources for good backlinks include:
- Social media
- Claiming/listing backlinks (for location-based businesses)
- Websites within your niche or in a related niche
- Authority websites within your niche or related niche
Keep in mind that the vast majority of all these backlinks should be brand-based or URL based, with more “click here” or “this website” keyword based anchor text than actual keyword based backlinks. That makes up the type of variety that Google checkers want to see when they are reviewing your overall link profile. The next step is making sure you have a great mix of backlink sources, and Google has come straight out and talked about some of the sources they look for. So now you know how to create the perfect backlink profile for your business website, go ahead and set up your own plan. Then stick to it!