Anyone interested in search engine optimization (SEO) and wants his side in the search results is very far above, and sooner or later, the topic link building . Link building has almost 8 million effects in Google search. If you don’t feel like clicking through the mass of information and looking for an excellent introduction to link building, you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, we want to explain understandably what link building is, why it is so important, which factors play a role and resolve seven widespread link building myths.
In a nutshell: what is link building?
Link building, or link building, is assigned to the OffPage optimizations in search engine optimization (SEO). OnPage Optimization encompasses everything from content and structural Optimization to technical adjustments. OffPage Optimization, even if the name suggests otherwise, still has something to do with the website. But it’s about external factors and things that don’t happen on your website.
The goal of link building is to get as many good backlinks as possible. With a backlink, another domain refers to your website using a link (strictly speaking, this is called the hyperlink ). In the figurative sense, a bridge is built from one domain to another for users and Google. The more backlinks you have, the more bridges there are, and so there are more ways to get to the website via different bridges. Users and Google find their way to your site more efficiently and more often.
Unfortunately, link building is not that short and sweet, but a very complex topic. Rightly one wonders what a good backlink is, how this form of SEO bridges comes about, and whether it is best to support the development actively. But that’s another story, and where we want to stick to the link building basics and the backlink myths circulating on the net. Lots of details about backlinks there is, for example, the SEO tool Sistrix. By the way: Because a Sistrix contribution has been linked here, a bridge has already been built, and Sistrix has received a new backlink.
Why do I need a link building?
If you imagine that websites like small islands float in the sea of the Internet and that backlinks like small bridges connect these islands, you already have a rough idea of why link building is essential.
WITH BACKLINKS FROM OTHER SITES, YOU CAN MAKE IT EASIER FOR USERS AND GOOGLE
When many bridges, from different islands, point towards your own, it is easier to find – both by users and by Google. Because both use links, both internal and external, to move through the Internet. It is much more challenging to reach a desert island because the connections are missing here. Once a few bridges have been built, the way to the island is much more comfortable.
A small example: You are planning a vacation in a big city and read a blog post on how to spend your day in this city. A café is mentioned, linked, and makes a good impression. Click on it and land on the side of a cafe that you might not have found through Google search. Such a bridge looks like this in the HTML source code:
<a href=”https://www.cafeimurlaubsland.de”> The best café in your holiday country </a>
The link, surrounded by anchor tag <a> […] </a>, contains the linked URL. This URL is the destination (hence the destination URL or link target ) that you will reach when you click on it. The link text (or anchor text ) is the text that you click, and that describes the link target.
Another factor why link building is so important is trust. Because if a page is often linked, Google can assume that it is also a desirable target. This page contains what it promises because the linked pages confirm this. Also, “good” sites tend to link to other “good” sites. The SEO Beginners Guide of MOZ explains this as follows:
“Through links, engines can analyze not only the popularity of websites and pages based on the number and popularity of pages linking to them, but also metrics like trust, spam, and authority. Trustworthy sites tend to link to other trusted sites, while spammy sites receive very few links from trusted sources. “
But that shouldn’t be overrated either, because backlinks are not the only and not the most critical factor that Google uses to rate a website. The evaluation of the sites, taking into account the incoming links, is used by Google as PageRank designated. This is an internal rating by Google, which cannot be viewed because the PageRank is no longer published publicly.
The origin of the PageRank metric can be explained using the example of a scientific paper. If another article is cited in a renowned paper written by experts in this area, you can be sure that the paper cited is a good source. It is trustworthy and relevant. The more often an article is cited by excellent other documents, the stronger this impression is. Such a quote is comparable to a backlink. The more backlinks created from good sources, the more trustworthy and relevant the linked page is, and the higher the PageRank rated by Google.
Link Building Foundation – The Google Guidelines
Now it is naturally tempting to collect as many links as possible simply. Until the penguin update from the Google algorithm, this was a widespread, but foul, tactic. The aim is not to use the much-help method, but rather to set up useful links. Useful links are also relevant to the user. What helps you with the travel preparation in the text section to the café a link to a casino in an entirely different country – absolutely nothing.
Overview of the guidelines
The Google guidelines for webmasters and the guidelines for link exchange programs When it comes to link building, they primarily deal with backlinks that influence the PageRank of your page. Simply put, these are backlinks from extreme sites. This restriction clarifies that these are guidelines and not general rules that are mandatory for every backlink. These guidelines can be summarized as follows:
- Do not participate in excessive link exchange programs. This works according to the motto link me; then I link you! Here, added value and the context of the backlink creation are missing.
- Do not buy or sell links that come from pages with higher PageRank for money, products, services, or in exchange for other relationships.
- Only link content that offers the user added value and also makes sense.
- Don’t overdo the keywords. Anyone who runs a café and links it in forums with ” Example name café Café sample city best café sample city” which exaggerates.
- Do not use misleading anchor texts.
- Use only visible links that everyone can find. For example, invisible links are white text on a white background or zero font size links.
- Do not use automated services that create links to your site.
These guidelines have been drawn up by Google. In practice, many cases contradict these guidelines. For example, buying and selling links is often ordinary. Such a violation of the Google guidelines should always be treated with caution!
In general: Naturalness wins.
If you compare the following section with the rest of this article, you can see without content what naturalness does not look like in link building :
THIS EXAMPLE SUGGESTS DIRTY LINK BUILDING WITH NO CONTENT
A strikingly large number of links is set for such a short section; the anchor texts are concise, the penultimate line doubles with a smaller version. There may also be a version of this line that is no longer recognizable. Of course, there are always exceptions. Nevertheless, be careful with everything that does not seem reasonable to you.
Opinions differ about good and bad backlinks.
Several factors determine whether a backlink is valuable or not. At this point, it is slowly becoming difficult for SEO beginners because some elements have to be measured and analyzed with tools. The report of how many backlinks you got from other websites also requires a tool and contains different metrics.
To put it simply, it can be said that the following factors play a role in a good backlink:
- The linking page can be found in the Google index – also in the Google search results. 1
- The site is rated “good” by Google. 2nd
- The linking page offers unique content and appears high quality. It does not consist of blank pages or copied texts.
- The linking part matches the link target and is therefore relevant. 3rd
- With a vast number of links from one side, you should be skeptical.
- The anchor text describes the linked page appropriately and appropriately.
- The linking page links, as best as possible, from the text and not from the footer, which has little to do with the high-quality content.
- You can check whether a page is in the Google Index by entering “site: www.domainname.com” in the Google search. This will show you all indexed pages.
- You can see that pages are rated “good” by Google because the page ranks high in the search results. Another indicator is high scores of metrics that measure the site (for example, the MOZ Domain Authority or Power * Trust from LRT).
- Useful links are links that are also relevant for the user. Here again, the holiday example comes into play: You are looking for a café in your holiday country and have found a website with travel tips. Describes this page in a section of restaurants and links to them, this is a relevant link. If cafes are described, and casinos are linked, this is not the case. The linked page should also match the content created. One should lead the reader to helpful other sites and not too unexpected goals. Critical to the relevance of a backlink: The website to which a backlink is created does not have to deal with the same topic as the website from which the link is made. The linked part should fit the place where the backlink was set.
What hats have to do with it
Anyone who deals with link building quickly comes across the terms White Hat, Gray Hat, and Black Hat. This is where hats come in – does that have anything to do with SEO?
WHAT DO HATS HAVE TO DO WITH SEO AND BACKLINKS? SOME!
It did because these terms describe the method that SEOs use in the area of search engine optimization.
White Hat SEO complies with all the rules set by Google. Black hat SEO includes clear violations of Google’s guidelines. Gray hat SEO is between white and black hat – some guidelines are followed, there may be rule violations, and there are methods where it is not clear whether they comply with the rules. Gray-Hat tries to interpret the Google guidelines differently, creates more freedom of action, and is classified as borderline.
What are the limits to link building?
Google’s guidelines for quality in link building, which have already been mentioned in the section Link Building Basis – the Google guidelines, are the benchmark for the evaluation. While a white hat and black hat are recognizable methods, the gray hat is often borderline and difficult to assess. The methods used are not directly prohibited (otherwise, they would be classified as black hats) and are rarely warned or punished by Google. The plans are discussed a lot on the Internet, and it is often a subjective assessment whether a gray hat method is still acceptable or is going too far.
Two Gray Hat SEO Examples Briefly Discussed
To illustrate the differences, two examples from the link building gray area follow :
- Optimize anchor texts too much for keywords – Of course anchor texts should best describe the link target and help the user. It is not surprising that keywords appear in anchor texts for which a page is to be found on Google. But if you overdo it and fill anchor texts with keywords (or overfill them) and set a whole series of these links, you are in a gray area. You should pay attention to here: Do not always use the same anchor text and not link each keyword in a document.
- Link yourself – Those who comment on forums and answer questions also have the option of linking useful sources in their answers. That, of course, includes your website. In most cases, this is perfectly understandable and fine. But if you spread your website in a big way and write forum posts without useful content and instead with many links to your page in many forum posts, you are again approaching the gray area. However, if relevant information is passed on to users that contain a link to further content, this is not in the gray hat, but in the white hat area.
Here is a simplified example: To the forum question, ” I am looking for a flower shop in Cologne that you can book for weddings ” in a local Cologne forum, the answer ” Nice cafés in your holiday country! ” With a link to www.cafeimurlaubsland.de is irrelevant. The answer ” You will find an overview of flower shops in Cologne with tips for planning weddings! ” With a link to www.blumenschmuck.de/hochzeit/dienstleistungen-köln, ” it is relevant and offers the valuable user information.
Of course, you are on the safe side with the white SEO hat and natural link building. This creates a backlink from a useful page with many users and provides valuable content to your page. It is thematically appropriate and helps to expand the content on the other website. Natural link building arises if both sides meet the perfect link building requirements and offer everyone involved the highest possible added value. John Mueller (Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google) answered the question of how to deal with link building
“In general, I’d try to avoid that, so that you’re sure that your content kind of stands on its own. And make it possible for other people too, of course, link to your content […]”.
With this, he emphasizes that in his view, natural link building is the best way, and active intervention should preferably be avoided. The answer to the question is in the video of the Google Live Hangouts to find just before the end.
7 Linkbuilding Myths Uncovered
After all the basics and guidelines, things are finally getting serious: The link building myths are exposed!
LINK BUILDING WORKS WITHOUT MYTHS AND MAGIC
Clicking through the topic of link building as an SEO beginner primarily means a mass of information. A few myths have set in overtime, which we would like to clarify here, quite simply.
- Those who get links rank at the top
Unfortunately, it’s not that simple, because links alone do not ensure top positions in Google search. The Google algorithm takes into account far more factors, and backlinks are not the most important. Also, in almost all cases, you are not the only page with links. Competing sites with better relationships to do better in comparison. Nevertheless, backlinks are still relevant.
2. Only links from top sites get me ahead.
If you only follow excellent metrics in link building, you will miss out on a lot of opportunities because even pages that appear less well known can assign valuable backlinks.
- Very new sites rarely have particularly useful values because they are simply too “young” for them. Therefore, of course, they have no less potential.
- Lesser known sites also have users. As long as the link is set meaningfully, every single user who comes to your page via a backlink is valuable.
- Some pages deal with niche topics and are only relevant to Google in a particular topic area. If the linking page with your question fits your page well, this backlink has a high thematic relevance and is therefore very valuable.
If you want to explain the connection between metrics and backlinks, you can find an explanation on backlinks from sites with a low domain authority at MOZ. So you don’t have to worry that pages with less ethical values can damage your page through a backlink. Especially not with a single link. In certain situations, a high number of low-quality backlinks can be harmful.
3. Avoid links from directories.
This myth holds up pretty well. The main thing here is that there are pages that only consist of an eternally long list of links. Since these links have no added value, the backlinks are also worthless. Excluding all directories, therefore, makes little sense. A contribution about the best cafes in holiday destination XY, which lists and links all recommended cafes in a section, is a backlink with content and meaning.
Forums are also often understood as a directory and thus as a “bad” backlink. This is because forum backlinks are almost always “no follow” – more on that in the next point.
4. “Nofollow” must not be
With the attribute “no follow,” you distance yourself from a backlink and tell Google that the link should not be followed. So there is a bridge, but Google doesn’t go over it. This is a good argument that these backlinks are not good, but only one way of looking at it. Because for users, these links are in no way “no follow” – the user does not notice the difference. Thus, “no follow” links can bring valuable traffic to your site.
5. By setting outgoing links, you lose “Linkjuice.”
This is where the assumption that if you refer too much to other pages is distracting from yourself. It’s like giving your fame to others by linking to other sites. At this point, you often read that the so-called link juice thereby lost. Some SEO studies even show that creating backlinks is positive can impact.
6. An anchor text without keywords is not an anchor text.
It is rumored that only links with a lot of keywords in the anchor text do anything. On the one hand, keyword-optimized anchor texts are against Google’s guidelines. On the other hand, the situation cannot be assessed across the board. An anchor text can, as Google expert Matt Cutts confirms, also use synonyms and paraphrases – a completely normal part of everyday language. Then the anchor text contains absolutely no keyword but is well designed for the user. Another factor here is the mixture of different anchor texts: If all anchor texts are only aimed at synonyms and not at your keyword, this can be a problem. If it’s only part of the backlinks, there’s nothing wrong with that.
7. Backlinks from pages that don’t seem relevant hurt me.
Relevance is an essential factor for a good backlink, that cannot be denied. If you look at which pages link to your own, you shouldn’t prematurely judge backlinks from pages from other niches. Anyone who runs a café and a suitable website not only gets backlinks from the area of food & drink. This could just as well be travel blogs or websites with nutritional tips if they match the menu. Topics such as furnishings or location can be addressed just as well, perhaps the building is historical, or the café is particularly child-friendly. Also, such a restaurant can be visited and recommended by a wide variety of people with a wide range of blogs. As long as the context is right, topic differences are not relevant.
The end of the SEO bridge
The first SEO bridge would be built – with essential knowledge and without any myths. Link building is and remains a complex topic. Hopefully, this article could help you get started.