Recently we have received numerous questions concerning link building for new websites.
The word is out that Google likes to see inbound links to web sites when deciding how well you will rank for a particular keyword. This is certainly true, but client requests that we help them build as many links as possible are wide of the mark.
When trying to keep up on Google’s ranking algorithms, we have to accept that Google doesn’t necessarily give us the whole truth. Often we hear Google speak of what is, yet they are actually speaking of what they wish was the truth. Linking is one such issue.
For quite some time Google has told us that they value high-quality, relevant links far more than simply spamming huge numbers of links around the internet. They tell us that if we build the quality content, the quality links will take care of themselves and all will be right in the Googleverse. Yet we continue to see sites rewarded by creating massive volumes of low-quality, irrelevant links.
So is it safe to spam away? well… no
Recent changes have seen Google devalue link farms, low-quality directories and paid links. Increased value seems to be applied to sites of related content with fewer links of greater page rank. While a huge number of links will still have a positive effect (the sheer numbers overpower any few negative link penalties), we can see that Google is continuing to try to move towards what they keep telling us. Eventually, they will get there.. or something close to it.
With all that being said, the important question becomes how should a new site plan a link building campaign?
- Slow and steady. Regardless of whether you believe the Google sandbox is real (the effect is, if not the intention. New sites are not easily indexed for important terms) there is ample evidence that Google is steadily moving towards a natural link model. This means that they expect links to be accumulated gradually, not a boatload all at once. If you go too crazy with new links tpo quickly, expect to be penalized
- Do your homework. You know your industry, and Google is trying its best to know it also. They will try to determine what subject matter is relevant to your site / product / keyword. This means you should accumulate websites that relate to your business / product / industry. These are the sites you want to get links from. Not only will this help with your future Google ranking, it can also help drive traffic directly from these sites to yours.
- Think Geographically. Most businesses need to focus on a particular region to be successful. It is not enough to sell service x. You need to focus on being the most visible provider of service x in a particular location. So look for chambers of commerce, trade associations, local business groups or city directories. Get your links on these sites.
- Anchor Text. Anchor text is the words that make up the physical link to your site. Pick your most important keyword and have it act as your anchor text about 75% of the time. Take your next 2 or 3 keywords / phrases and use them as the remainder of your anchor text.
- Get active. Participate in in active content production on both your own site as well as relevant forums, discussion groups, etc. Where allowed, and relevant include your link in your posts on other relevant sites. When writing content for your own site, make it useful for others in the industry so that they may wish to link to it. Make it very easy for them by including a link to this article section at the bottom that includes your link with anchor text.
- Aim to get 2 to 3 links a day, most work days.
- Do not pay for links. Google is already devaluing these links and will continue to do so.
- Try to avoid links from huge link farms or useless directories.
- Spend while you wait. In the first few months of your site you may want to consider Google Adwords for advertising. This can help drive traffic to your site while waiting for Google to show you some natural ranking love.
There are a huge number of additional options for building links and generating traffic but the above list are the basics that should get you a good jump whether you do this yourself or expect your SEO provider to be taking care of links for you in the course of their ongoing work.
A note of warning to close out this post:
If an SEO firm offers to give you a top ten ranking right away via thousands of links, be afraid… they are going to cause you and your site some big problems down the line. A company that is honest will tell you you need a comprehensive plan that will take some time to do right. Time is not the same as labour however, a few hours a week over the course of a few months is the right recipe for success for most sites.