3 Step Guide to Building Quality Backlinks for SEO
Quality link building is critical for every Search Engine Optimization (SEO) effort targeting higher ranking. Quality links pointing to your site remains one of the key factors taken into consideration in Google's ranking. The other are quality content, website user friendliness and website speed, But SEO like most other human activity depends on the strategy adopted to achieve success.
Google is known not to explicitly reveal its core ranking signals and so much of the suggestions and recommendations are based on the experience of top SEO specialists, that will guide us in the three strategies recommended for link building for higher ranking in the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs). This link building system has brought success to many and is recommended for you also. Success in this case means top ranking in the search engines.
Our discussions in this post is more of a backlink strategy, and not a generic SEO strategy. This is because this guide will mostly be focused on link building because that is the most important part of SEO.
Before I get into the methodology, you need to know our assumptions.
First Assumption: When you build links you will focus on getting backlinks from relevant websites that are trusted by Google. In other words, you will get links from blogs that have their own organic rankings and traffic. Or at least these blogs will be on their way to rankings and traffic.
Second Assumption: You understand how important link building is and you make it the main focus of your SEO efforts. You also know a good mix of links from websites of various authority will have the biggest impact on your rankings, especially links from relevant sites.
Third Assumption: You understand that in order to build a natural link profile, you can’t just build links to your home page. You must build links to other pages in your site as well.
Now that we’re on the same page, let’s get started with the 3 steps to crush your SEO campaign.
Step 1 – Build Brand Authority With Proper Home Page SEO
When you do SEO for the homepage you should only use that page to build brand trust with Google.
In other words, you want Google to look at your brand (or your client’s brand) just like it looks at Amazon, Apple, Wikipedia, Microsoft, etc.
Google has 100% trust for big brands and because of this big brands do great in the search results and are basically immune from Google updates.
So how do you get Google to trust your brand like they trust big brands? Through your homepage link building.
First, you want to avoid targeting key phrases in your link building most of the time to your homepage. However, your on-page SEO can contain key phrases.
If you look at Amazon’s homepage backlink profile, of the 61,000+ referring domains, 90%+ of their backlinks contain one of these as their anchor:
That is how you get Google to trust you as a brand.
So as you build links to your homepage, 90%-95% of your backlinks are either branded anchors or some form of URL as the anchor text.
It is all about creating a branded presence online.
You very rarely will get any links to your homepage with key phrases in the anchor unless there is a key phrase in the brand name like “SEO” in SEOxxx.
You must establish good brand trust with Google. You do this by getting links early and often to your homepage using the percentages I have listed above.
Many SEO’s want to know how to use their brand name naturally in a sentence when they are guest posting. The easiest way to do this is to quote yourself, or your CEO in a sentence.
For example, xtz founder of xyzSEO says that quoting yourself is an easy way to work your brand name into a sentence for a link.
See how easy that is, and how natural it looks. You can use this same strategy for URL anchors as well.
You need to be getting these branded links all the time, just like the big brands online naturally get branded links all the time.
Having your brand name, or some form of your URL as the anchor text allows you to build brand trust and then get your other pages ranked very quickly.
Your homepage should have the most links pointing to it of any page of your site and a good metric to shoot for is for your homepage to have close to double the amount of links as the next highest page.
Step 2 – Build Power Pages
What is a power page?
A power page is a page or blog post on your website that is amazing content. It’s the kind of content that when your target audience reads it they feel the need to comment, share or even thank you for it.
The content not only has to be great, and super helpful, but it also needs to be content that is long and in-depth. I’m talking at least 2000 words minimum.
Google loves in-depth long-form content. Gone are the days where you need to write a new 500-word blog post 3 times a week.
One of the most important things to remember when you are creating power pages for your site is you need to start with 1-3 key phrases in mind to write the content around.
Choosing key phrases that your target audience is searching is especially important as you start to build links to your power pages.
Step 3 – Build Backlinks To The Power Page With A Proven Plan
Once you have published this awesome content you need to move on to the third and final step of the backlinking strategy and start building backlinks to the power page like crazy.
When I say like crazy I mean you will start to actively and consistently build links for the page using a proven plan. I don’t mean that you should get a thousand spammy links to the page. You will be amazed as the rankings increase as you build out the link map.
We suggest you build power pages built around “conversion funnel optimization”
The formula is pretty very simple and it just works. With power pages your link building is going to be much more focused on key phrases.
Blended Anchors are any anchor text that contain all or part of one of your key phrases with other words as well. They are NOT exact match anchors.
For example, if I was targeting the phrase “backlink software” here are some examples of blended anchors:
“you can use backlink software to help”
“this software does just that”
“Great backlink software”
As you can see the anchors contain all or part of the key phrase but they also have other non-key phrase related words in the anchor as well. Google is smart enough to pull your key phrases out of anchors like this.
You’ll also notice that we wrote those anchors to be able to fit into the middle of a sentence which is really important because you want most if not all of your backlinks to be contextual and the anchors need to read naturally in a sentence.
For power pages, about 30%-40% of your backlinks to your power pages need to fall under the Blended Anchors category.
Exact Match Anchors are pretty self explanatory. Your anchor text is exactly a key phrase you are trying to rank for. (ie “backlink software”)
As far as Exact Match Anchors go you can actually have 0%-10% of your backlinks to your power pages be exact match anchors. But we wouldn’t recommend you start building any exact match anchors until you have about 15-20 links pointing to that page.
With the recent Google updates the focus for #1 ranked pages has shifted to more Natural Anchors. 55%-65% of your backlinks will fall under the Natural category and will be the same kind of branded or natural anchors you are getting on your homepage. These can also be non-keyword related terms like “click here” or “this website” or other random phrases.
There is a ton of SEO strategy and secret techniques on the internet but what still works and has always worked is great content supported by a natural backlink profile.
Pass SEO Juice From Power Pages To Subpages
As you build backlinks to your power pages their SEO value increases. You can pass that value to other pages (sub-pages) in your site.
You do this by internal linking to other pages in your site from the content of your power pages. Especially smaller pages where it doesn’t make sense to have a ton of content but where you are targeting important key phrases (ie product pages etc).
For example, a realtor in Lagos might have an SEO power page about how to sell 20 houses a month like clockwork. Then in that article he links out to a couple of the smaller Lagos suburb city pages in his website so he can rank for those phrases. These smaller pages are called sub-pages.
When I was doing SEO, you had a bunch of category pages that didn’t have much content but you really needed those pages to rank. It wouldn’t have appeared natural to build a lot of links to those pages so instead, you include links out to those pages from your power pages.
Within a few days of adding the links to the category pages your rankings on almost all of those pages could shoot up to the top 10.
I was able to get top rankings on these category pages without having to get any external backlinks to those pages.
Where To Get Links
As you can see this SEO strategy is very dependent on a solid link building plan. So to help you get moving quickly here are some places to get links.
If you have the resources to write articles for guest posts, then it is recommended you do the outreach yourself. The SEO value you get from doing your own outreach will truly pay off in the long run. You can do a simple Google search for things like:
your category “submission guidelines”
your category “guest post”
your category “write for us”
These will bring back many blogs in your niche that accept guest posts.
I can also use Helpareporter.com (HARO) which is a free service where journalists will submit queries for quotes from experts and almost every time you will get a link back to your site if they use your quote.
If you don’t have the time or the staff to do the blogger outreach yourself, you get a premium guest posting service. You only reach out to relevant blogs that have organic rankings and traffic so you know they are trusted by Google. You make sure the guest posts look amazingly natural with links out to your site along with other authority sites and include internal links to other pages in their blog to add to the natural appearance.
Other companies you can use include Guest Post Solutions, Authority Builders, The Hoth and Fat Joe. Please note that none of these companies are perfect and you may not always get the best links in the world with them. But overall they seem to do a decent job.
How Often Do You Build Links To A Website
First off let me just say that SEO’s around the globe all have a different take on how quickly they should build links to a site.
There is probably no single best solution to this problem but because links are either going to cost time or money, it is recommended you try to stick to a budget within reason.
To the most important pages (Power Pages and Homepage), you can make sure to try and get several links to these pages every month.
Sometimes links come in naturally, especially to the home page, so you don’t have to do as much proactive link building on that one.
You don’t let more than 30 days pass without getting a link to the most important power pages, but also don’t just link to them every 30 days like clockwork.
Try to randomize when the links show up so sometimes you will do more than one at the same time. Sometimes you will do 2-3 links to a power page in a month and sometimes you will get over 10. It is unsure if the speed of the link building matters as long as the page has awesome content and the links are coming from legitimate websites.
The great thing about power pages is that if you have created some awesome content you can build a ton of links to those pages and your rankings will continue to climb, especially if the link profile follows the link maps.
To the sub-pages, we will build links to those every now and again, usually when you haven’t seen their rankings move up in a while. You need to be careful on how many links you build to sub-pages because depending on the niche you’re in, that could appear extremely unnatural.
Filling out 1 link map for a subpage over the course of 1-2 years is fast enough. Let the link value come from the power pages.
The most important thing is to keep building links and keep re-establishing brand trust.