In this article I reference making use of keyword rich anchor text. With recent Google updates, this has become a little more risky. I will personally continue to use keyword anchor text, but will now use more sparingly. Build the vast majority of your links as either plain urls, or use your brand name as the anchor text.
If you are confident in the breakdown of the anchor text of your full back link profile, continue with keyword anchor text with caution. Here are the guidelines https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/66356?hl=en. A natural back link profile is mostly non-keyword anchor text. If your backlink profile has 15% or more of keyword specific anchor text, you need to start diluting that by acquiring backlinks that DO NOT have keyword specific anchor text. If you need a way to check the keyword usage in your backlink profile, I recommend Majestic SEO… more info on how to use Majestic for that is below.
Smart, sustainable, white hat link building should be a primary concern of all results driven SEOs. Since white hat link building involves more networking and email communication skills than it does technical SEO ability, I find it to be a great task for beginning SEOs and motivated small business owners.
This post will contain one of the simpler methods I’ve used to create great links and referral sources.
What will you need to get great results from your link building efforts?
Keyword research for each page you are building links to.
This will be crucial to determining what anchor text to use. You will want a good grasp on the key phrases you are seeking to associate with each landing page.
Rather than building all links to your home page with your brand name as the anchor text, try adding in some other keyphrases you would like that home page to rank for.
I like to use Majestic SEO for this. They have tons of options for backlink research: you can filter reports by links creation date, anchor text, or link deleted date etc. Majestic SEO also automatically makes great graphics that are perfect for reporting.
If you are on a budget and can’t afford any paid tools, make sure to get a base idea of what sites currently link back to you. This can be done via Google Webmaster tools, or many other free “backlink checking” software options. This is important because you will want to avoid tapping the same referring resources twice. (Google assigns more value to links from new unique sources than it does multiple links from the same referral source.)
Beginning Your Link Building Work
Once you’ve compiled a list of the links that you currently have, pop them into an excel spreadsheet.
I include the data for which URL links to my own, the page on my site that is linked to, the approximate dates of when the link was created, the cost associated with the link (directory fees, etc.) and the anchor text.
A Dedicated Link Building Email Account
I’ve made the mistake of sending all email communications from a personal account, or using ONE overarching account for all my clients. This gets muddled and confusing, I would suggest setting up an individual Gmail account or other account specifically for link building.
Set Up a Link Building Excel Sheet
I break this spreadsheet down into the following sections or categories.
Self Submit Resource – Resource wherein one might obtain a link simply by submitting business information and the desired link. Often these sites will offer premium listings or listings with social functionality. Pay extra at your discretion. Examples are: free directories, profiles on local sites, and resources listings on informational sites.
Purchasable Resource – A resource where one can pay for inclusion, usually paid directories or advertising on other sites in the form of banners, etc. Examples are: Yahoo paid option and industry specific directories.
Non-Competitive Resource – A website that ranks for a term that you are interested in ranking for, yet this entity isn’t a direct competitor. Often these are community sites, forums, blogs etc. Examples are: dictionaries, web forms, encyclopedias, opinion sites, and news sites.
Competitive Resource – A direct competitor, likely someone you are vying against for a key phrase. These are usually other businesses within your niche.
Here is a quick sheet I threw together doing some link resource gathering for boxing related terms:
Gather Resources Into Categories
Take your first keyphrase and search for it in Google. *make sure you’ve set search options to non-personalized results*
Read through the results of your search, viewing each resulting site for the first 40 results or so.
Determine which of the above link building categories is most fitting. Copy and paste the URL of each result from your search into one of the linkbuilding categories in the worksheet. I’ll often at this point snag the contact email, phone number, or indicate whether it’s a contact form only method of communication.
Once I’ve completed the initial sorting of resources, I tend to go through and repeat this process for all of the keyprases/landing pages I’m working with.
Making Contact Or Acting On Opportunities
At this point every site from all your searches should be categorized as one of the four resources, we will start with the easiest first.
Self Submit Resource
Go through and fill out all the forms, captchas, etc to claim any free directories or otherwise self claim resources. This will often require business confirmation through postcards, phone calls, or at the very least replying to confirmation emails.
You will want to have on hand your business address, contact email, any potential sales you are having. It’s crucial to have good idea of which categories your business is defined within. Try to apply categories and keywords to match the phrase you’ve determined for this link.
These will depend on your budget, the value of the resource, and the specifics of what is being offered for purchase.
You don’t want to directly purchase JUST A LINK.
The trick with these resources is to treat them more as advertising, where you are paying for a branding or marketing message to viewers rather than just an outlet to convince a search engine of your site’s validity.
Google does not condone the purchase of links for the specific purchase of just the link.
Tread carefully here, make sure the reason for the payment isn’t JUST to get a link to your site, if you are being asked to pay, this should be bundled with other resources.
Google DOES allow the purchase of paid directories, for the right price, I would buy most of these assuming the prices are good.
These are often the best link building opportunities. These resources are usually organizations, businesses, or communities that rank for a competitive phrase for different reasons than you do.
Often these links can be obtained through the guest blog posting, requests to be added as a resource, sponsorship, or in many cases simply asking.
If the resource is an individual (often personal blogs rank for terms if the writer is a producer of valuable content) you can ask them to review your service or product. These reviews will often result in links back to your site. These types of links are where your communication and networking skills get a chance to shine. Caution though: this can backfire if the reviewer doesn’t care for offering. Be selective what you send.
These are the websites that you are working to overtake in rankings. Since we’ve identified these resources in searches for the terms we are looking to rank for, they are doing something right. Emulation can be very beneficial here. These will often be local or national competition, both of which provide a fantastic link building resource.
With these resources, I simply check their backlinks with either a paid or free software, and repeat the whole resulting linkbuilding process with each of their referring sources. This is where you will gain some very potent linking sites, as well as learn more about the depth of yout vertical in the digital realm.