The most common mistake link builders make when undertaking a link building campaign is failing to diversify their backlinks! While I am not particularly fond of building links, when I do build links I like to pay uttermost attention to it.

Penguin is constantly improving and the phrase ‘SEO is deadlinkbuilding is dead’ is continuously thrown around on webmaster forums, however, linkbuilding is not dead! Penguin has just become better at recognising poor links and understanding not to honour them. SEO consultants need to better educate themselves to understand links! Today I am not going to talk about what makes a perfect backlink but will be discussing the ways on how to diagnose and safeguard your backlink profile.

What Is Backlink Diversification

To summarise, the penguin update was aimed at understanding your backlink profile and recognising when it has been fabricated to manipulate SERPs. Backlink diversification is building backlinks in such a manner that your backlink profile looks natural to search bots.

A backlink profile is like an overall scorecard of every link pointing to a website. These will include anchor keywords, website relevancy, IP address, the nofollow/follow link attribute, referring content and many more algo factors. One thing you will notice with power sites is that their link profile usually consists of all and many more of these attributes and rarely do you find an algorithm change affecting such sites. Do note though that this does not mean they are full proof from a Google manual hammer. There is a more detailed post here on understanding google manual penalty.

To keep your backlinks safe the following important link attributes should be taken into account when you decide to practice safe link building.

Are you ready?

Thread Carefully With Anchor Keyword Optimisation

Back in the olden days of link building, the more anchor text a keyword has; the chances are you will rank higher for that term. Practicing such these days is calling for an algo penalty. Whilst a good on-page optimisation will rank some keywords without you building an anchor text for that keyword, other hard-boiled keywords will require some anchor texts to carry it. A strategy I sometimes use when I need to build anchor text links is what I call ‘the anchor 123′, a very easy tactic to build clean anchor links. Here is how it works: For every 1 anchor keyword, there are 2 brand mentions and 3 random anchors. Let me give you an example: LOL Shoes is a UK brand that specialises in dinner shoes;

  1. Dinner Shoes is an anchor keyword.
  2. LOL Shoes UKLOL Shoes are two brand mentions with variations.
  3. Dinner shoes specialist lol UK – get them here – visit their website are all random anchors.

I think you get the drill yeah?

Obsessive Pagerank Disorder

While some SEO consultants will chew my head off for this, I still strongly believe pagerank is still an important factor when it comes to link building. While it does not directly correlate with high ranking in SERPs, it definitely does help to get a backlink from a high PR (pagerank) page.

You can ask any SEO which they would prefer a PR8 link or a PR0 link

Here is where it gets messy. The relentless pursuit of pagerank leads many link builders to disregard one of the many fundamentals of link building. That fundamental is DO NOT SPAM. Do not get links from just high PR pages for the sake of PR link but consider other factors like the outbound link on that page and where they link. Is it relevant to my niche?

Link Relevance

While trying to acquire links, it is always advisable to go for relevant content links. It’s already well established that a link from a relevant site in your niche is more valuable, and with the added bonus that it looks less spammy!
So next time you working on a fashion niche site, reach out to fashion bloggers, fashion media PR, fashion directories and any other closely related niche and avoid those pharma links! If you have links that are of irrelevances to your niche I think it’s time to reach out and have them removed or prepare a disavow file.

Geographical Location

Aha! Probably the most common type of mistakes online marketers are making now. I will build you 20,000 edu links for £10- have you asked yourself where these edu links are from? I know for fact that some countries are notorious for spam, getting a 20k links from these countries is just asking for trouble, this leads me to the next step below. If you are a local florist in Romford then you should be aiming for mentions and links in your local area because those 20,000 edu links from Poland will not do you any good.

IP Diversity

SEO Hosting, multiple class a b c hosting, dedicated Ip hosting. There is a reason why these sites are popping up everywhere now. If you have 1000 links to your site from a single IP, this is a big RED FLAG as it could be counted as a site wide link and will cause an algo penalty. In addition, all 1000 links will be counted as one due to link diminishing returns. It’s a solid idea to mix the IPs up and if you are planning to build a blog network do not use SEO hosting; mixing up your hosting companies is much safer.

Linking Domains

While the more domains pointing to you the better it is for metrics like domain authority and trust factors, the reality under the hood is, it is not always the best idea. Web 2.0 links is the general term given to these type of links and they are links generally originating from subdomains i.e, etc. I have nothing against web2.0 links but if your backlink profile is entirely or over populated with these types of links then it is considered splog (spam blog) links! Clean them up and stop building them.

Content Links

The content where your link resides is a very important factor that should not be taken lightly. Panda which is the big brother of google’s  penguin is still at work and even smarter now at detecting low value quality content. By low value content I mean things like spun, duplicate, stuffed and thin contents. The reality is when panda discovers your low value content it algomatically devalues any link that it carries. As a result low quality content on that website will drop the website from google index. Panda and penguin work hand in hand so to ignore one is to ignore both.

What Type Of Link Are You Building?

Are you still fascinated by 1000 forum signature links? Or does the sound of 10,000 manual directory submissions appeal to you? You should better educate yourself, as these sorts of links 99% of the time are PURE SPAM!

I hate spam, Search engines hate spam, you hate spam, website owners hate spam even spammers hate spam! So why build spam?!

The most powerful links now are contextual based and while I am aware not everyone can get these links the answer is not spam. Brand mentions are cool beans now and they are easier to acquire than contextual links.

Here are some ways you can easily get brand mentions:

  • Reach out to journalists and local media

Journalists and reporters are always on the hunt for good stories. As an expert in your field, you have something they want: ideas on stories! If they use your idea, the likelihood is that in return you and your brand will get mentioned. This is not just powerful in the sense that you are building links naturally, but if done properly,  local news can become national news. For example, one quality contribution to Romford Gazzette, could  get picked up by BBC regional and then it makes it to BBC Worldwide or CNN. All the way throughoutll carrying your brand mention. My tip for a good site to help you get started is H.A.R.O, read through their FAQ section and ‘Get Started’ guide.

  • Be an expert in your field – participate in Q&A

If you are into growth hacking then you already know the power of Q&A websites. You get instant laser targeted traffic and hungry prospects ready to convert, but it does not end there. A good way to use Q&A websites to build brand mentions is to go to where your competitor’s questions are being asked and provide answers to them. This might sound crazy at first but they key here is establishing your brand as the ‘go to’ resource for anything and everything in your niche.

  • #Yourbrandname

Facebook, Twitter and Google + all have the magical hashtags. While you are hashtagging your money keywords always include your brand. The next time you are posting a status update on any of the social media websites, start your brand movement and include #yourbrandname. This is by far the easiest way to grow brand mentions via social media.

Do You Know Your Link Neighbours?

When you get a link from an unknown website, it is always a good idea to dig into other sites that website is linking to and linking from. If your website is get caught in what I like to call a spider link network then your website risks getting banned. It is always a good idea to audit your backlinks: see who is linking and what is linking and thanks to the disavow tool you can quickly disassociate yourself from a suspectible bad link neighbourhood before a negative hit received.

How do you know A Bad Link Neighbourhood?

Check the where the suspect site links to?
If a website links out to too many sites that are irrelevant to its base niche then the website is either participating in link sales or link exchange, and the chances are it is part of a spider link network.

What is the backlink profile like?
Use tools like opensiteexplorer, ahrefs, majesticseo and my new discovery webmeup to check who is linking to the site. A bunch of spammy looking Chinese links (no offence to the Chinese, I still love your food) or thousand of sub-domain links usually flags up a bad link site.

What is the site’s content like?
Most suspect sites tend to use spun content or scraped content. A simple search query like “some part of the content I want to check for plagiarism” with quotes in google will reveal if it is a scraped content. You can also make use of premium copyscape to see if a site is using duplicate content. I have been told this is not always accurate though as some people have found a way to get around this, but I am yet to confirm it so to date it seems a rumour.

Link Acquisition Rate

While I am yet to find a strong theory to back this up I’m still obliged to include it on the list. Large influx of backlinks will raise a flag. While there are some exceptions to this like maybe a commercial TV ad goes viral or a post you created makes it to the top of digg, the chances that a 20k backlink profile surging from forum signature, blog comments and even directories is usually a sign something manipulative is going on.

In world of SEO, quality wins the race and not quantity

To Follow Or Not To Follow

Google has publicly stated they do not count links with the no follow attribute and this has led many webmasters to focus solely on building (or should I more accurately say spamming) dofollow links. A manual review of a backlink profile without one no follow attribute is susceptible to a penalty.

Go after no follow links from high authority sites, if you don’t get that coveted link juice from the site, you will always get the extra traffic source. I once landed a nofollow link for a client’s site on website and while I did not get a link attribute juice, I was only too happy with the extra traffic and conversions the website was receiving from that link.

What to do next

It’s time to gather all your backlinks and manually run through them. Call me old school but I am not a fan of those link detox softwares out there as I am yet to find one that satisfies my link auditing needs. Use any of the backlink checking websites I mentioned above and go through your links to find any that fall into the categories mentioned above. Document the link and reach out to the webmaster to have it removed and if this proves futile, disavow it.
While this might seem a daunting process at first, you should always think and weight the risks of not doing it. I speak from experience as I was guilty of neglecting a backlink audit once and I paid the ultimate penalty.

If you need help with anything above or have spotted an error (eh I’m still human!) Please point it out in the comments below

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