6 Link Building Tips That Are Often Overlooked

It’s no secret that links are the number one ingredient when it comes to ranking a website on the top of the search results. Most of the discussions around link building involve securing high-quality links that are considered to have authority.

But what exactly does that mean? There isn’t a cookie-cutter definition of an authority link, because there are several factors that come into play, many of which can be easily manipulated. Businesses and SEOs became so obsessed with “authority links” that many bad actors came in and took advantage.

There were heaps of private blog network links being sold as high-quality authority links, and many agencies were selling them as outreach posts when no outreach was needed – these blogs would post any content and any link. There was zero quality control and this created a nightmare for those that secured links from these sites.

Authority links are more important now than ever, but it’s important to understand what truly gives a link authority because if you only base this off certain metrics that software provides, you will often get burned.

Many of these tips are overlooked during the rush to secure links with strong metrics – on paper.

Let’s dive into six link building tips that will help you secure links that have actual authority and will have a long-lasting positive impact on your SEO efforts.


1. Focus on Building Links from High (Real) Traffic Websites

As soon as “authority” links began to be categorized based on metrics such as Domain Authority (DA) and Domain Rank (DR), this is when we saw a major influx of blog networks being offered as guest post opportunities and link insert opportunities.

It was fairly easy to create a “high authority” network of sites by purchasing expired domains that had attractive (and authoritative) existing link profiles and re-build the website using web archive data.

While it appeared to look like a great link from the metric standpoint, it did nothing in terms of potential referral traffic because these websites receive zero visitors. Sure, they can work to pass some authority, but remember that you will be at risk of incurring a penalty if and when they are uncovered.

Once a link is sold on a site or it’s exposed as being part of a link-building service or package, you have to assume anyone can find it if they want to dig. Once they begin to dig it’s simple to identify the other websites as well as the websites that purchased links from these sites.

Anytime you acquire a link you are technically ‘breaking’ Google’s terms of service, so it’s best to always be as safe as possible. What looks more suspicious? A link from a website that receives zero traffic or a link from a legit website that receives 100,000 visitors a month and the particular piece of content that your link is found in receives 5,000 organic visitors monthly?

It’s much harder to prove a link was ‘bought’ when the website is legitimate and has traffic than a blog network that has no traffic or activity. Google’s algorithm can easily identify fake websites that are nothing more than link farms.



2. Use Natural Anchor Text for Off-Page Links

When building authority links the biggest benefit is the link juice being passed back to your domain, so the anchor text should not be the focus. Spammy anchor text can get you in trouble anyway, so it’s best to use natural anchors.

Most legitimate websites will not link out using what they view as “keywords” so don’t think that anchors such as ‘here’ or ‘this website’ don’t help your SEO – they do. Their job is to pass that trust signal to your website.

When we do genuine outreach with major media outlets there is never a mention of anchor text or a request for specific anchor text. That would set off so many red flags. Let’s pretend we are pitching an infographic to one of the leading health and nutrition websites.

During the pitch, we are explaining the benefits of publishing the infographic on their blog and how it will give them a content asset of value that they can leverage at no cost. The only thing we’d like in exchange is to credit the source.

They are then provided the source URL which also has HTML code with a link with the anchor text “source” – so if they use the HTML code we are going to get a nice generic anchor and if they link to it on their own it could be a wide range of anchors.

This strategy assures that a successful infographic outreach campaign will not result in a possible penalty due to too many exact-match spammy keyword anchors.

Now, when interlinking your blog content, you can use more keyword and long-tail keyword-focused anchors as they are more specific to your content. This is a smart strategy to help rank for terms and not put your off-page link building in jeopardy.


3. Focus on Link Relevance and Link Location

Strong authority links are great, but they need to display direct relevance to your website, industry, topic, or niche. A financial website has no business being linked from a diet and fitness blog. While the link might have authority, it screams paid link placement.

You have to step back and evaluate every link target from all angles. Does this look natural? Would this publication naturally link out to this website and this particular piece of content? Relevance is often overlooked and ignored simply because the SEO campaign is only focusing on the domain metrics.

Even if the website is legitimate, has a ton of organic traffic, etc. – there must be obvious relevance. Ask yourself this simple question: “Does this link make sense being used in this context and referenced on this website article?”

Another often overlooked aspect is the location of the link. Links that are dropped in footers, sidebars, or as image credit references can stand out like a sore thumb if they do not look natural.

The same can be said for author bios, which used to be a prime location for link dropping. Google has caught on and many theories have the algorithm essentially assigning very little to no value to links placed in author or contributor bios.

The best location for links will always be within the body of the article, and toward the top. Not always a must, as the goal is to link naturally, but the beginning part of the content is what Google places the most weight on in terms of determining what the particular web page is about.

For example, if you are in a competitive niche and you can secure a link on a page related to a difficult topic to rank for, Google will associate your website with that topic and the page’s authority simply by being mentioned as a resource.


4. Always Perform a ‘Neighborhood Audit’ During Link Target Research

I’ve mentioned and referenced the dangers of using blog networks that have little to no guidelines in terms of who or what they will link to, and one of the easiest ways to identify potentially dangerous websites is to perform what I like to call a neighborhood audit.

Simply skim through a few of the most recent posts as well as some from a month, 3 months, and 6 months prior. You want to only look for links, and be mindful of what the anchor text looks like and what the outbound link points to.

If the anchor text is spammy, such as “CBD company Dallas” or “personal injury lawyer Seattle” you will want to steer away. Anything linked to that is questionable, from scammy low-quality websites to porn and cannabis, should be a major red flag that the website has little to no editorial guidelines and is more than likely part of a PBN.

Being seen as a resource next to a questionable website is bad for your brand image and it can lead to being penalized – guilty by association in Google’s eyes. While traffic is a great indication of a legitimate website, some legit sites will sell links and sell them to anyone willing to pay.

The few minutes of due diligence to check ‘neighbors’ can help you avoid wasting time to acquire a link from a website that has much more risk associated with it than the potential reward.

There is no shortage of websites to approach in your link-building campaign – make sure your time and energy are applied to those that will provide you a healthy SEO benefit with minimal risk.


5. Understand How to Truly Identify ‘Trusted’ Links

Acquiring links that Google trusts and views as coming from true authority websites are the goals of every SEO campaign. However, there are many different definitions of a trustworthy link, and it usually depends on who is painting them as being trustworthy.

You can never trust the opinion of the seller – of course they will tell you they give off a strong trust signal. No link selling agency will tell you, “Oh, this is a domain that is manipulated to give off strong metrics when really it’s just a PBN site that isn’t nor ever will be viewed as being trustworthy by Google.

Here are some things to look for when evaluating whether or not a website is legitimate and can be trusted:


  • Detailed Contact Information: Look for detailed information about the business aside from just a generic contact form. Phone number, address, etc. Then search for the information you find on Google to see what you dig up.


  • Review Listings: Do they have any reviews online? If it’s a blog do they have links from any other authority websites? Yelp? A simple Google search will pull up this information.


  • Industry Certifications: If they are a business do they have any certifications or accreditations from organizations within their industry? What about a Better Business Bureau profile?


  • Strong Online Presence: These days a strong online presence is crucial. If they don’t have social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram at the very least there is a good chance they are not legit.


This is a very simple checklist to run through and the few minutes of due diligence spent doing this can help you not only secure great links but also avoid wasting your time chasing those that will provide little to no SEO value.



6. Build No-Follow Links

And finally, we have the timeless no-follow vs do-follow link debate. Let me get right to the point. Yes, do-follow links pass ‘juice’ and can make more of an immediate impact, but no-follow links do contribute to SEO and Google does consider them.

They always have. Want proof? Wikipedia.

Wikipedia links have always been no-follow and they are some of the most desirable and powerful links. Why? Because it comes down to trust. Wikipedia is heavily trusted as well as heavily moderated. Wiki editors go out of their way to remove spammy links.

More editorial sites that became large link-building targets switched to no-follow as well. First, it was Huffington Post and Inc., then Forbes and Entrepreneur followed, and now almost all of the top media and entertainment websites automatically assign the no-follow attribute to all links.

If you only build do-follow links and your link profile is only do-follow links it makes it look very suspicious, especially now that so many websites are no-following all links. Google knows this and takes authority and trust into consideration more than most SEOs think.

With so many authority websites no longer do-follow the weight of no/do-follow links had to be adjusted. I will take a no-follow link from a top media website over a do-follow link from an unknown blog that has inflated metrics. Remember, Google’s algorithm updates daily and continues to get smarter and more advanced thanks to AI.


Final Thoughts

These are tips that you should follow when doing your own link building as well as cross-check with your SEO provider if you are outsourcing the work. Fancy reports of acquired links with strong metrics look great on the report, but are they actually going to push your website up in the SERPs?

If you are not acquiring links with true authority you are wasting time and money, as well as putting your website at risk of being penalized. Years ago during the spam link building era, websites would risk a penalty in order to rank high and fast, and if that penalty came they would just start fresh on a new domain.

Today, brand image and reputation play a huge role in converting customers that a business cannot risk having its domain penalized. Starting over is not only a nightmare from a link-building and SEO perspective but from a branding perspective as well.

As one of the largest authority link agencies, we have worked with the largest websites and blogs in the world, and know how to identify link opportunities that provide incredible SEO value. Do you have any questions about what makes a link truly authoritative? Drop them below in the comments and I will do my best to answer them all.


Tommy McDonald

Tommy is an SEO professional with years of experience running highly successful SEO companies, founded SerpLogic after noticing there was a major void when it came to options for SEO agencies needing a reliable and professional one-stop outsource solution.You can read all about me in the “About” page here on our blog!

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