How to build a more natural backlink profile

10 May 2013

Google is continuing on its mission to get rid of sites which gained their place at the top of the search engines by excessive manipulation of backlinks that were created by automated or spammy processes.

While such backlinking tactics may have been successful in recent years, the changes that are currently being implemented are having a dramatic impact on the search results positioning of many “over optimised” websites and blogs. Instead, Google wants to reward websites which have earned respect and links from other sites naturally by creating worthwhile content which appealed to its readers. As a result, it has begun rooting out websites with a backlink pattern which look unnatural or suspicious, so it is important to make sure that your site's backlink profile appears as natural and diverse as possible.

Vary the anchor text

You might want to rank highly for a particular word or phrase, but in a naturally created backlink profile you would never have 300 organic links using the exact same anchor text (the words that become “clickable”) leading to your site. So, rather than insisting that all your backlinks have the words “Thai restaurant Brighton” as the anchor text, even if that is your target keyword, a more realistic approach would be to have “Thai food in Brighton” “Brighton and Hove restaurants”, “Thai restaurant in Sussex” and “Brighton's top Thai restaurant” as anchor text variations. Similarly, replicating natural patterns will also involve some links where the URL itself is the anchor text, as well as some image links, and several with “click here” or “check it out” as the anchor text too.

The more diversified a backlink profile is, the more natural it appears to Google. Over-optimised anchor texts are a sure fire way to let Google know that these links were bought or artificially created, as opposed to being earned by having a popular website.

Don't ignore “nofollow” links

Traditionally, SEO specialists have endeavoured to get the majority of their links from “dofollow” sites, which means that some of the PageRank flows from one site to the other. The reality, however, is that in a natural link building situation, links would come from a variety of “dofollow” and “nofollow” pages.

Link to internal pages as well as your main homepage

Don't have every backlink pointing to your homepage. When links are naturally distributed, there will be some that point to, for example, a favourite blog post on your site, others that point to a popular product page, and others to your “contact us” or your FAQ page. You can also increase traffic and encourage search spiders by making sure you have plenty of links within your website from one page to another.

Links from a wide variety of sources

Buying 2,000 forum profile links, or 3,000 blog comments, is a recipe for disaster. It is the quickest way to get delisted or, at least, have your search engine ranking reduced considerably: no website would naturally have so many links from those places.

Instead, make sure that if you are linkbuilding you try to get links from blog rolls, blog comments, social media sites, websites' resource pages, forums, good quality directories, YouTube and other video sites, and document sharing websites, as well as those prized links within blog posts themselves or on main website pages. Think moderation, and consider what it would look like if it had happened naturally.

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

While, with natural backlinks, some blog posts go viral and receive a sudden surge of links on a single day, the majority of organic link building occurs much more gradually. Don't be tempted to rush your linkbuilding efforts by creating hundreds of backlinks over several days and then neglecting it for weeks.

Disavow

If you know that your website has some poor quality sites linking to it, you can approach the webmaster to ask that the links are removed. However, if this does not work Google has now introduced a tool to disavow bad links where you can request that certain links are ignored when Google decides how to rank the page in search results.

These techniques can all help to create a backlink profile that looks more natural. While the best way is to create a website that is so good that it gets organic backlinks automatically, if you are giving your SEO a helping hand, the tips above should help you to avoid penalties and the risk of being delisted from the Google results altogether.