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Elena Terenteva

Link Building Fundamentals #semrushchat

Elena Terenteva
Link Building Fundamentals #semrushchat

Link-building is a fundamental SEO issue. Backlinks are a huge ranking factor; it’s so hard to earn good ones and the temptation to use unnatural tactics can be so great.

This new SEMrush Twitter Chat with @Linkarati and @AndrewDennis33 presents advice from industry experts on building a strong link profile. We covered the most common mistakes newbies can make as well as the dreadful consequences of manual penalties and successful recovery processes.

Best Link Building Resources

Top Link Building Resources

Major factors to consider when choosing links

Choosing the right backlink source is half the battle. What details should you pay attention to when looking for a platform to link back to your website?

Above all, your links should be placed on relevant websites. In this case, it not only feels natural, but also has a higher chance of finding the right audience. It would be weird to think that a link to your veterinarian clinic website from a computer hardware forum would bring you a lot of customers.

Link-building is not only essential for boosting your SEO – it also gives your brand or content the opportunity to be seen by an audience that might be interested in it. So choose websites that your potential clients visit. “At the end of the day, ask yourself if your audience is on the site. If they are, get a link there” - Andrew Dennis ‏@AndrewDennis33.

Besides being posted on a relevant resourse in front of the right audience, the link itself should add value and be helpful for your website’s visitors. What does a backlink actually mean? It shows that you’ve created something helpful and valuable for users, and that they give you due credit by linking to your website or content.

The most qualitative links come from qualitative websites, so focus on websites that are trustworthy, have high authority and have good online visibility.

The recipe for a perfect link may look like this:

Yet, the best links are created in the most natural way, so make the time and effort to promote your content to the people who might be interested in it – to ones who will mention or cite.

Difference between natural and unnatural links

First of all, which links are considered natural and which are not? This is how Google defines these two terms: “Natural links to your site develop as part of the dynamic nature of the web when other sites find your content valuable and think it would be helpful for their visitors. Unnatural links to your site are placed there specifically to make your site look more popular to search engines.”

So let’s try to find out what distinguishes natural links from unnatural ones. As Ayesha Ambreen ‏@AyeshaAmbreen says, “natural links are those that fit right into (your?) website/audience profile, i.e., those that are relevant for both.” So a natural link matches your website’s context perfectly and doesn’t seem inappropriate.

Another thing: a natural link implies that people are linking to your content naturally, so your website is a truly valuable resource in your niche. “Again, does it provide value? Is it relevant? Yes equals natura; no equals unnatural” - Annie Singer ‏@singerswings.

Andrew Dennis ‏@AndrewDennis33 points out another difference: “Natural = editorial/human curated. Unnatural = automated/robot generated.” When you drive links by using any automated software, without any doubt you will get unnatural links.

Here are some examples to illustrate the difference between natural and unnatural links:

Recover from Google's manual action for unnatural links

Although this  can hardly be imagined, but you might face a situation, where you should make such a decisive action, as move to the new website.

If not, first of all, you need to perform a full-scale cleaning. Site audit tools will be your great helpers, but if you are interested in a perfect result, don’t rely only on tools.

Start reaching out to websites and asking them to remove your backlinks. Be ready to spend a lot of time and effort on it and send a lot of emails.

If reaching out doesn’t work, use disavow tools. You probably won’t get rid of every bad link, so you need to start disavowing the remaining toxic links. Check out the article Disavowed: Secrets of Google's Most Mysterious Tool by Cyrus Shepard. 

But don’t be too detail oriented – the idea is to remove bad links that actually harm your website, not every links that may look suspicious. Make sure links are really worth deleting before removing them.

When your backlink profile looks nice and clean, it’s time to reconsider. Remember that it was a manual penalty, so a bit of a human approach wouldn't go amiss; you need to be honest and detailed. Writing a Reconsideration Request For Manual Google Penalties by Lewis Sellers.

Get more information about every step of the recovery process in this post: Google Unnatural Links Manual Penalty: A Recovery Guide by Chuck Price, which was recommended by Hardik Oza ‏@Ozaemotion.

Link building mistakes

A well-planned link building strategy can push your website higher in SERPs, and drive more traffic and targeted users, while a poorly designed link building strategy may result in website penalization and completely ruin all your marketing efforts. So what are the main mistakes one should avoid?

Building a qualitative and natural backlink profile is a long and continuous process. By trying to cheat the system and choosing the shortest and fastest technique, you risk getting on the wrong side of search engines.

One link from a trustworthy and relevant-for-your-business website with heavy traffic will be more useful than a bunch of backlinks from questionable resources that will simply hurt your reputation. This is a fundamental rule that everybody seems to know, yet everyone breaks it from time to time.

A website with a backlink profile consisting solely of one type of link – for example, blog comments – is very likely to come under penalty. Getting links from the same type of website also doesn’t look like natural link-building. “Diversify your anchor texts and link types,” as Andrew Dennis ‏@AndrewDennis advises.

Another popular mistake is putting too much emphasis on your link building strategy and focusing all your efforts on it.

As Linkarati ‏@Linkarati mentions, “building links only for algorithms and not for people” is also a big mistake. When trying to please search engines, don’t forget about your audience.

Link builder's toolkit

Top 20 Link Building Tools

Link building "pro tips"

Remember that link building is not a silver bullet. It should always be a part – an important part, yet only a part – of a wider mix of marketing and SEO.

Furthermore, even the greatest link building company won’t bear fruit, if it has a poor website. At best, it may bring you short-term and unstable success. Focus on your website and content, and the links will come naturally.

Link building is bound up with community-building; this is the most natural way to create your backlink profile. “Think of your people. Effectively build relationships and engage with your community, and the links will be easier to build” - Linkarati ‏@Linkarati.

As Nathan Gotch ‏@GotchSEO  suggests, “value creating high quality content above link-building”. Good link-building is nothing without good content. How can you make people want to link back to your content if you do not provide anything worth linking?

You can’t create tons of links overnight – this is obviously a bad strategy that is likely to get your site penalized by search engines. So take time and build your links step by step and this will be beneficial.

Hence, don’t expect instant results from your strategy.

Join our next Twitter Chat and our special thanks to the following participants:

@jakebohall @Sams_Antics      @dawnieando      @Trvshlvrd_RR      @birch3107     @amelm      @allmikehall     @milestech      @bill_slawski      @pagesauce      @aknecht      @Coryrcollins      @spyder_trap      @NenadPantelic      @AndrewDennis33      @JuliaEMcCoy     @NChimonas     @dan_shure     @netvantage     @amelm     @Anantpatel09     @akshtz     @sergio_redondo     @SEO     @kmullett     @R8chel_Marie     @mysiteauditor     @mazur_w     @spyder_trap     @AyeshaAmbreen     @jadeinteractive     @AndreaFine     @milestech     @Trvshlvrd_RR     @Linkarati   

Elena Terenteva, Product Marketing Manager at SEMrush.

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