Link Building Strategy: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

Kapil4 responsesSEO
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Note from editor: This article about link building was written by a contributor to Dukeo. It doesn’t represent Dukeo’s position about Link Building whatsoever and only reflects the author’s experience with link building.

A strong link building strategy is one of the key differences between your business appearing in front of your potential customers or getting overshadowed by the noise of your competitors trying to protrude. Google keeps their cards close to their chest with their algorithm updates hence making it tough to realise whether what works today will work tomorrow.

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link building good bad ugly

Link Building: Setting the Scene

I realise most webmasters want authoritative links pointing back to their websites, you know the “PR 6” “Do Follow” links with incredible traffic which boost you up the rankings. Yes! Don’t we all want them! But think about it, are these links relevant to your business? Will having a link from this site have a positive influence in the medium-long term?

Rather than focus on the positive website link building strategies, I’ll look at those which have a detrimental impact on your search engine ranking efforts. On some instances, the general principle of the strategy might be okay, but the approach will need to be tweaked for optimum exposure.

With that being said, let us turn our attention to the following link building practices, some which are down right ugly and how you should kick them to the curb immediately.

Link Building Techniques Guidelines

Diversifying your anchor text links

Are you trying to build your link profile quickly using the same anchor text? You might want to rethink this approach.

With Penguin 2.0 well and truly in effect, Google’s taken a firm position to penalize sites which have too many links with exact match keywords in the anchor text. If you aren’t entirely convinced, check out Court Tuttle’s Post-Penguin Anchor Text Case Study in which one of his lessons was that he should have avoided the use of exact match anchored links.

Post Penguin 2.0: How To Differentiate Your Anchor Text Links Post Penguin

It comes down variety at the end of the day. If you are too systematic with your link profile, it’ll show so try and keep it natural by having a good mixture of the following anchor text types:

  • Exact Match: If you want to rank your home page for “baby car seats” , use links which contain this exact phrase, however as mentioned above, use with precaution.
  • Sectional Match: “Four Wheel Drive Baby Car Seats” is an example of a sectional match. The practice of inserting a few additional terms will provide you with a sectional match and it appers natural also.
  • Branded Match: If your brand is affiliated with your website’s name, this is known as a branded match. For example, “at Dukeo, learn how to generate traffic, convert leads and make sales
  • Zero Match: I would strongly recommend including a few zero match anchors which aren’t specific to any keyword such as “link“, “click here” or “visit my site“. Apart from looking natural, it also helps ensure you diversify your link building portfolio.

While the above is not an exhaustive list, these will help to add variety instead of creating one type of anchor which is both spammy and risky for the future prospects of your website.

Blog Commenting

The Don’t’s include:

  • Avoid the use of in text links within your comment unless you are genuinely providing value e.g. the previous commenter had asked for recommendation on a training course for guest blogging – it would be acceptable if you provided a link to a course which you believe would be of value to the recipient.
  • Don’t bother commenting if you plan to use short, thin comments such as ‘awesome article’ ‘thanks for sharing this’. It adds zero value to the discussion and nine times out of 10, the site owner will send it to their trash.
  • Don’t go off the topic by not discussing any of the content the author has written about.

The right way is really not that hard. Plug in your website URL/domain into the website field of the form and get stuck into a meaningful comment with your own opinion. Try and relate to the author and seek their feedback if you have any questions on their content. It also helps to link the comment back to your G+ profile for Author Rank purposes.

 Link Building via Link Exchange

  • Don’t get caught up with reciprocal link exchanging with irrelevant websites and site owners you have no knowledge on. Google is looking for natural one way linking as opposed to manipulated strategies which don’t benefit those searching for content.

Instead of wasting your time and money with link exchange, why not use proven methods which add value such as guest posting, press release submissions and link baiting.

By exchanging links with unrelated sites, sooner or later Google will pick up on this and for a bit of short term gain, do you rally want to risk the long term pain? To read more on Google’s position with link building exchange schemes, click here.

DoFollow” is not everything

Don’t place your entire link building efforts on producing ‘dofollow‘ links. Believe it or not, but ‘nofollow‘ links still have value.

It all comes down to being natural and unsystematic with your link building profile and that means a sound mixture of ‘dofollow’ and ‘nofollow links. A strong link is classed by its traffic as opposed to the relationship. Like we discussed with anchor text distribution, it also needs a good variation for the optimal results.

Those who understand SEO will tell you that the rel="nofollow" tag is only used by them simply because your average webmaster doesn’t really care or realise the power of their link juice.  A mental note for next time, if you come across links with the “nofollow” tags, don’t discard them, they could very well be relevant to your website.

Social Bookmark Link Building

I know most of us can’t live without social bookmarking and the fact we can automate this process and pump out these bookmarks to a number of networks makes it an attractive ‘lazy’ strategy.  With the recent Penguin 2.0 update, it’s time to act with caution with your social bookmarks ,meaning only use social bookmarking websites that are reputed and relevant to your niche.

Establish an authoritative profile on these social bookmarking networks and mix up your links (don’t just use yours) by offering other relevant links also.  While I can’t emphasize this enough, always go in with good content before getting started with social bookmarking.

How To Build Links The Good Looking Way

We’ve look at a few ugly website link building strategies which can still be tweaked to achieve a positive result but let’s look at the new age attractive methods which will get you thinking outside the box.

Use Images for Link Building

In it’s most simple form, if you possess high quality, unique images which other bloggers or businesses will want to use, it’s not hard to ask for credit links through embed codes or manual link attribution for they image they use on their website.

I love using images for marketing because it’s efficient and builds your brand and people love to share visuals. From a link building perspective, this adds diversity to the links which point back to your site (which Google loves).

If you’re struggling for ideas on the types of images you can use, try these for starters:

  • Photographs (products, landscapes etc..)
  • Infographics
  • Memes
  • Cinemagraphs
  • Typographs

 Offline Link Building

There was no Facebook or LinkedIn back in the 90’s – how did businesses socialize then? Through good old fashioned networking whether it was a BBQ or drinks and nibbles for specific communities. I truly believe most SEOs are yet to capitalize on this opportunity because it requires putting yourself out there and picking up the phone and meeting in person.

What is you run a health supplement website and you link up with a local gym to offer discounts on supplements or perhaps you sponsor a challenge for their gym members.  What are the chances the gym will go against the idea of including a link on their site to your business discussing what’s on offer.

You could consider organising local meetups for customers and bloggers which can lead to strong relationships, positive sentiment and solid links.

Use Video

I’ve discussed how to use images for link building and I believe videos are also a great opportunity which businesses are not budgeting for.  If this is done correctly, you could have customers, partners or vendors re-using your videos in their content.

For example, a global life insurer could produce a video on the benefits of income protection insurance using animation or slides and how the product works. Financial advisers could then use these videos on their company blog and email newsletters which go out to their clients.

If you arrange your videos in a resourceful way,  you will get links back to the collection. Before you jump into videos, know what your audience wants and then produce videos which are easy to locate, view and most importantly – videos they can share.

Invitation Only Guest Posting

Guest posting – I realize these two words are sounding more and more like a broken record but there is simply no denying the true impact of this strategy for your link building efforts.

Try to grow your in-house list of influential authors by visiting some of the top tier blogs and contacting the authors of blog posts you’ve enjoyed and found value with. On some occasions the authors might be willing to write for free, although don’t be surprised if the well established ones ask for a fee in return.

In any case, it is probably worth the investment of having a few big gun bloggers post on your site as this is by far the most effective way of expanding your reach as these authors will no doubt share their own material.  I also think it helps from a relationship marketing level as well.


Link Building doesn’t have to be a complex web of strategies but it does require a little bit of creativity to stand out from the rest.  Most of the time you can leverage existing strategies but simply tweaking the approach in order to see the relevant gains.

We discussed the use of using images and video marketing, offline methods and yes, guest posting but the list doesn’t end here. I’d like to hand it over to you on how you plan to build links in light of this information or why not tell us what works for you?

Look forward to hearing your feedback!

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  1. Great tips Kapil!

    Link building has become a bit of a shady area recently, but if you approach it in the right way (as you have listed) then you shouldn’t have anything to worry about.

    Only one I wasn’t sure about was linking your Google+ account to comments left on other sites. Not sure that would work myself, as surely Google would only give author credit to the author.

  2. Kapil Jekishan

    Thanks for your thoughts and feedback Matt.You’re one of the good guys mate so I trust you’re already playing by the rules.
    In terms of author rank – you’ve raised an interesting point but I feel Google will use various signals such as the content you produce, levels of social engagement(which captures blog comments) to score your profile so if you’re commenting on SEO related sites and you produce info within a similar niche, this should boost your ranking signals.
    Hopefully in time Google releases a guideline on the key drivers of author rank.

  3. Jill C.

    Great article! I have been doing SEO since 2005 and have always kept the same basic principles. Great content, great relationships and procuring links that make “sense”. I have not had any client penalized by Penguin. I do some side work for a bigger company who I have seen some clients plummet since Google – why? Because they tried to “break” the system and although not black hat link building techniques….I would definitely consider them grey. Everything you noted above is honest and will get the job done. I am sad to see so many businesses losing the SEO game because of so much bad advice out there.

  4. Kapil Jekishan

    Hey Jill, great to hear your story – being in the game since 2005, I’m sure you’ve seen your fair share of ups and downs. The 3 pillars you mention: content, relationships (social media included) and relevant links are the foundation of any link building campaign and I’m glad you’ve stuck to these principles.

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