Good backlinks from related websites are the most important element in Google’s ranking algorithm.
Google will only list your website in their search results if they find at least one other website that links to your site.
Getting these links is the hard part. Since Google’s Penguin update, automatically created low quality links don’t work anymore.
In this section you’ll learn:

  • how to get good backlinks
  • how links influence the success of your website
  • how links to other websites can affect your search engine rankings
  • how to decide if a link is a quality link or not
  • which links don’t work with search engines
5.1 The link building basics
What can you do to get good backlinks and what can you do if your link requests get rejected?

  1. find the right websites
    It can be difficult to get good backlinks and you shouldn’t waste your time on websites that won’t have a positive impact on your own website. The better the linking website, the fewer links you need. Focus on quality, not quantity. Get a list of good websites that should link to your site.
  2. get in touch
    After building your list, contact the owners of the other websites. Tell them your story, let them know that you are passionate about what you do and explain why both sites could benefit from the link.
    Don’t just ask for a link to your site. Offer the other webmaster a guest blog article that he can publish on your site. Tell them that you have infographics or statistics that are interesting to their website visitors. Link building is relationship building. Both sides benefit from a good relationship.
    Ask yourself how the other website benefits from the relationship before asking for a link.
  3. how to deal with rejection
    If your link request gets rejected, don’t take it personally.
    There are many reasons why a link request can be rejected:

    • They are just busy and the timing is not right.
    • The pitch was not a good fit or your pitch was confusing.
    • They have had bad experiences in the past.

    Decide on a case-by-case basis how to proceed after the rejection. It might be that the other webmaster simply did not know what a guest post is. In this case, it helps to explain the concept. A guest blog post usually benefits both parties.
    If you get many rejections, check your pitch. Maybe you have to offer something better to get a backlink. Rejections can help you to fine-tune your requests.

You can also try something new. Contact other websites by phone, try another approach (inform them about broken links on their site, etc.) If you want to have a successful link building campaign, it is important to have as much data as possible.

 

5.1.1 How links influence the success of your website

There are two main types of links:

  • links from other websites to your website ( backlinks)
  • links from your website to other websites (outbound links)

Both can influence the success of your website.

 

 

5.1.1.1 How backlinks influence the success of your website

Backlinks influence your website in many ways:

  1. All major search engines use backlinks to rank websites. If your site has many good backlinks then you’ll have high rankings on the search engines.
  2. Other websites send you new visitors through the links. If you have just 500 links pointing to your site and each site sends you in average only 3 visitors per day, then you’ll get 1,500 targeted visitors per day.
  3. Exchanging reciprocal links with other sites will build a great link directory. Your visitors will bookmark your site and visit your site again and again because you can offer them a valuable resource: your link directory.

The links to your website should be high quality links. Details about the quality of links can be found in the chapter High quality links and low quality links 5.1.2 .

 

5.1.1.2 How outbound links influence your search engine rankings

While most webmasters are aware that backlinks are important to the success of a website, many site owners don’t know that outgoing links also have an impact on their websites.

  1. The positive side of outbound links
    Links to other websites show your website visitors that your website can be trusted. You wouldn’t send visitors to other pages if they could find negative information about your products or services on other sites.
    Links add value to your website, they show your visitors that you have nothing to hide and that you have confidence in your site. The websites to which you link help your website visitors to put your website into a larger context. If you link to high quality sites with useful content, web surfers will associate your website with these high quality sites.
    If you don’t have outgoing links or if you hide your links, then you send your visitors back to search engines. If you offer your website visitors links, you can send leaving visitors to other websites that can send you their visitors in return. Carefully chosen links to outside resources can improve the experience of visitors who visit your website.
    Don’t be afraid that you drive people away by offering links on your website. You either have interesting content on your website or you have not. People eventually will leave your website, no matter how interesting your website is. Even you don’t visit your own website all the time.
  2. The negative side of outbound links
    Links to other websites can also have a negative effect. If you link to websites that are obviously spammers then search engines might ban your website from their search results.
    Just use common sense, if a website looks shady or if the techniques on that website look to good to be true (for example: “Get 500 links per day with our automated system”) then don’t link to that website.

The websites to which you link contribute to the image that web surfers get about your site. Offer your visitors links to good websites with interesting and related content. Don’t be afraid that you drive visitors away. Give, and you shall receive. This is true for many aspects of life and it also works for website promotion.

 

5.1.2 High quality links and low quality links

As soon as it was clear that backlinks are extremely important to get high rankings on Google, webmasters tried to manipulate the number of links that pointed to their websites.
Webmasters created automated linking schemes to artificially increase the number of backlinks. For that reason, search engines improved the way they evaluated links. Nowadays, it’s not enough to have many backlinks.
The quality of the links is also important. Some links will help you to increase your search engine rankings, others don’t.

 

5.1.2.1 High quality inbound links

High quality backlinks are links that will help you to get higher search engine rankings and targeted visitors. If you have 20 good backlinks then you’ll get better rankings than with 100 bad backlinks.
So what makes a high quality backlink?
There are several points that can make a link better than other links:

  1. The link should use the keyword in the anchor text
    If you want to get high rankings for a search term like “buy brown shoes” then the links to your website should contain that text. The text that is used to link to your site (the “anchor text”) influences the words for which your website will get high rankings.
    Make sure that the texts that are used to link to your website contain words for which you want to get high rankings on search engines.
  2. The link should be from a relevant page
    Links from related web pages usually work better than links from unrelated pages. Links from unrelated pages won’t hurt your rankings but Google likes links from websites that are related to yours better.
    A related page is a web page that has loosely to do with the topic of your website. If you have reason to believe that the visitors of the web page might be interested in what you have to offer then the other page is a related web page.
  3. The link should go to a relevant page on your site
    While it’s okay to get links to your home page it is better to get links to the page that is most relevant to the chosen anchor text. If the anchor text is “buy brown shoes” then you should make sure that the link goes to a page that deals with brown shoes. If the anchor text matches the content of the linked pages then it’s more likely that your web page is really relevant to that term and it’s more likely that you’ll get high rankings for that search term.
    In addition, you increase the user experience. If a surfer clicks on a “buy brown shoes” link it’s much more likely that he’ll buy on your site if he gets the correct page.
  4. It’s good if the link is from an authority site
    Links from pages with high authority will help to increase the PageRank of your website. Links from websites with high PageRank have a positive effect on the rankings of your own site.
    Unfortunately, the Google PageRank that is displayed in the green bar in Google’s toolbar is not the PageRank that Google uses for its ranking algorithm. The PageRank displayed in the toolbar is outdated, often wrong and more a gimmick than a real help. You’ll often find websites with low PageRank that rank higher than pages with high PageRank in the search results. Don’t trust the green pixels and use common sense. If a website is well known and if the site has good search engine rankings then it’s likely that it is also an authority website.
  5. The link must not have a nofollow attribute
    The nofollow attribute tells search engines that they should not follow a link. Links with that attribute don’t help your search engine rankings. Unfortunately, you have to check the HTML code of your link partners to find out if they use a nofollow attribute to link to your site.

 

5.1.2.2 Low quality inbound links

Low quality backlinks are link that won’t increase your search engine rankings. In the best case, low quality links won’t have any effect at all on your rankings.
In the worst case, low quality links can cause search engines to ban your website from their search results.
When is a link a low quality link? Several points make a link a low quality link:

  1. The link uses the nofollow attribute
    Links that contain the nofollow attribute might help you to get direct traffic from the website with the link but they are totally useless for your search engine rankings. The nofollow attribute is a HTML attribute that has been introduced by Google, Yahoo and Bing.
    It allows webmasters to mark links that should not be followed by search engine spiders. The attribute can be added to link tags in the HTML code of web pages: This is a link. If Google finds a link with the rel=”nofollow” attribute, Google will not follow through to that page, they will not count the link in calculating PageRank scores and they will not count the anchor text in determining what terms the page being linked to is relevant for.
  2. The link is from an unrelated website
    If the link to your website is on a web page that links to every Tom, Dick and Harry then it’s likely that it won’t have a positive effect on your search engine rankings. Try to get links from web pages that are related (even loosely) to your website. Further information about the effect of links from a web page that links to very different pages can be found below in 5.1.3 – The effect of co-citation on your rankings.
  3. The link is from an automated linking scheme
    Some years ago, webmasters could blast their website URL to thousands of FFA (freefor- all) pages to quickly get hundreds of links. Search engines quickly discovered that and nowadays, links from FFA pages won’t help your rankings at all.
    Shortly after that, webmasters developed automated linking schemes. Automated linking schemes usually promise hundreds of links in a very short time with very little work. As these linking schemes have been created for the sole purpose of cheating search engines, search engines don’t like them at all.
    For example, some services automatically create blog comments, other create profiles on social media sites with a backlink, others post your link in online forums, others automatically create forum accounts. These backlinks can get your websit einto trouble.
    All major search engines have employees who actively seek for these linking schemes. Search engines know all linking schemes and links from these schemes don’t have a positive effect on your search engine rankings. Worse than that, many search engines will ban your website if you participate in a linking scheme website because they consider it spam.
  4. The link doesn’t go directly to your website
    Some websites do not link directly to your website. They link to a page on their own website that redirects to your website, for example “http://www.example.com/redirect.php?3152”. You might get direct traffic through these links but they won’t help your search engine rankings.
  5. The link cannot be parsed by search engine spiders
    Search engine spiders are very simple programs. If the link to your website cannot be found easily, chances are that the spiders will ignore the link to your site. Most search engine spiders have difficulty with links in JavaScript code. If the link to your website is hidden with a scripting language then search engine spiders won’t parse it.

 

5.1.3 The effect of co-citation on your rankings

The effect of co-citation is often overlooked by search engine optimizers.
The other websites to which your link partners link can influence your search engine rankings. Here’s an example:
websites 1, 2, 3 and 4 all link to websites A, B, C and D.
Although A, B, C and D don’t link to each other, search engines think that A, B, C and D are related to each other because the same websites link to them:
If A, B, C and D are all linked by 1, 2, 3 and 4 they might be related to one another, even though they don’t directly link to each other.
If A, B, C and D are all linked by many other websites, they have a strong relationship. The more websites they are linked by, the stronger the relationship.
If your website is website A, you should make sure that websites B, C and D are related to your site.

  1. Co-citation and bad link pages
    If you are listed on a website that links to gambling sites, viagra sites and your shoe store then search engines might think that your website is related to gambling and viagra.
    The search engines look at the link pages and check to which other websites the pages link. If the other pages are gambling and viagra sites then search engines think that your website is also related to gambling and viagra.
    That means that it might be difficult to get high rankings for search terms that are about shoes.
  2. Co-citation and good link pages
    It’s important that the other links on the web page that links to you are related to your site.
    If you’re listed in the “Shoes” category of a link directory then all websites in the same category are usually also about shoes. When search engines look at this page and check the links to other sites they will think that your website is related to shoes. That means that it will be much easier to get high rankings for search terms that are about shoes.
    What does this mean to your link campaigns?
    When you exchange links with other websites, make sure that your link is on a page that lists related links. It’s not necessary that the complete other website is about your topic.
    It’s ok if the other website has a single category page that deals with the topic of your website. The link to your website should be listed on that page then. The more pages of the other site are about your topic, the better. Make sure that the link to your site is in a good neighborhood and that the other links are related to yours.
    Tip:
    If you want to find out which websites Google considers related to your website, go to Google and enter related:www.your-domain.com in the search box. Replace your-domain.com with your own domain name and make sure that there is no space after the colon.

 

5.1.4 One-way links, reciprocal links and three-way-links

There are a lot of rumors about one-way links, reciprocal links and three-way links on the Internet. Which of these links work best for your business and which links do you need to get higher search engine rankings?
What are one-way links?
A one way link is a simple link from one website to the other. For example, if you link to c and that page doesn’t link back to your website then it’s a one-way link from your site to their site.

What are reciprocal links?
A link is a reciprocal link if you link to a website and that website links back to your website. You send visitors to the other site and the other website sends visitors back to you. That makes sense because all visitors leave a website sooner or later. You can send your visitors back to search engines or you can send them to partner websites that send you traffic in return.

What are three-way links?
Some webmasters believe that reciprocal links don’t help web pages to get higher search engine rankings. That’s why they invented three way links: Website A links to website B, website B links to website C, website C links to website A.

Which links will help you to get higher search engine rankings?
Good backlinks will help you to get higher search engine rankings. None of the link types above is worth more than the other. The reason why some people think that reciprocal links don’t work is that many webmasters who engage in reciprocal linking don’t care about theming but only about the number of links.
Unsolicited one-way links are usually from topic-related sites.
It’s important that the links to your website are from related sites and on-topic. If a reciprocal link is on a low quality page with links to every Tom, Dick and Harry then it won’t count much. However, that’s also true if the same page carries a one-way link or a three-way link.
It doesn’t matter if a link is one-way, reciprocal or three-way. It does matter if a link is on a related website.
Links from high quality websites will help your rankings, links from garbage sites won’t.