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Backlinks: Link Building Strategies for 2018

Updated: Jun 20, 2018

Backlinks are links that refer to your website from another website. Because the links must come from an external location, these backlinks are also called 'external links'.

What is link building?

Link building is a part of search engine optimization. With search engine optimization, the goal is to have a website end up as high as possible in Google's search results.

Search engine optimization has 3 important components:

1. Technical SEO optimization

Technical SEO optimization covers all technical matters within a website. At the start of every SEO or link building campaign it is always wise to take a technical SEO check as a first step. The technical issues and the solutions for this are very decisive for the rest of the campaign.

We can make a distinction in the following technical SEO aspects:

• Responsive view / Mobile friendliness

• Mobile speed

• Speed of the website

• Secure HTTPS connection with an SSL certificate

• Use of rich snippets

• Presence of an HTML sitemap and XML sitemap

In addition, it is wise to check on:

• Permanent redirect to the WWW variant of the website

• Permanent redirect to the HTTPS variant of the website

• Correct robots.txt records

• 404 errors (broken links)

• 302 redirects or redirect chains

• Presence of canonical links

2. Content SEO Optimization

Content SEO Optimization includes the website structure, the texts, the media (images and videos) and the internal links within a website. It is important that the website structure fits the services/ products and associated keywords on which you want to 'rank' in Google. The same applies to the texts and media. The internal links ensure that Google understands the relationship between the different pages.

We can distinguish in the following SEO content aspects:

• A logical website structure, where the main focus keywords are included in the main navigation

• Unique content for almost every page (check for duplicated content via Siteliner )

• Optimized content for the focus landing pages

• Proper use of H1, H2 and H3 headers

• Unique meta titles and meta descriptions

• Correct use of alt tags

• Proper use of internal links

3. Link building

Link building includes all links that refer to the website. The number of links, the quality (authority) of the links and the relevance (topic) of the links are of particular importance. The more links of high quality and high relevance, the higher the website will rank in Google. Link building is a decisive factor in search engine optimization.

How Google determines the position of your website is 50% dependent on your backlinks.

What is a link profile?

A link profile is the reputation that a website has in the field of link building. A link profile can be measured with link building software such as Majestic SEO, Ahrefs or

Moz. In addition to these software packages, there are still a lot of alternatives today. But these are the most used platforms worldwide. In the example below we assume

Majestic SEO.

The structure of a link profile can be divided into the following areas:

TF: Trustflow

Trustflow shows the trust of the link profile of a website. The goal is to achieve the highest possible Trustflow.

CF: Citation flow

Citation Flow is a score given for the number of links in combination with the trust. The goal is to get the Citation flow around the same number as the Trustflow. This indicates that the number of links is in proportion to the confidence that comes from these links. A Citation flow that is much higher or lower than the Trust flow shows that the website has a high 'SPAM content'. This means that the links are of low quality and will not contribute to the position in Google. They also call this ratio TF/FC ratio. An optimal ratio is 1.

Topical Trustflow

Topical Trustflow shows in which categories the link profile can be classified. It shows which topics (based on the type of links) should be relevant to the website. This is a good indicator for the relevance of the links that refer to your website. For example, do you have a website that is about marketing? Then you mainly want links from websites that have a link profile in which the Topical Trust Flow of Business/Marketing and Advertising comes to the fore. Relevance, that's what the Topical Trustflow is about.

Referring domains

Referring domains are the number of unique IP addresses that link to the website. The number of unique websites that link to your website determine the strength of your link

profile. The more referring domains (of quality), the higher the ranking will be.

Anchor texts

Anchor texts are the texts in the links that refer to your website. Previously it was effective to have as many links as possible with the keyword to refer to your website, but now you ask for a penalty. It is therefore important to vary here.

An anchor text is the visible and clickable text in a link. That looks like this:

<a href=""> Digital Marketing Central </a>

Why are anchor texts important?

Anchor texts ensure that Google knows what the link is for. For the Google Penguin update of 2012, anchor text was the easiest way for Google to understand the relevance of a link. Now it's a quick way to get a penalty.

Anchor texts for the Penguin update

For the Penguin update from Google it was possible and gave results to link all links with the keyword as text to your website. Google saw these links as a 'vote' for your

website and it was a quick way to reach top positions.

Anchor texts after the Penguin update

Since the Penguin update, over-optimization in link building is punished. Websites that link too much with just the keyword since 2012 receive a penalty from Google or see no


Anchor texts are the way for Google to see if websites are trying to manipulate Google to rise in the search engine. If 100% is linked with the keyword as anchor text, Google will ‘hand out’ a penalty.

It is therefore important nowadays to use varied anchor texts for link building.

Different types of anchor texts

To create a natural link profile it is important to know the different types of anchor texts. A distinction can be made in the following types:


anchor texts (Brand name) Brand name anchor texts contain the mark. For example, ‘Coachmee’. Brand name anchor texts are the safest anchor texts to use, if you have a brand

name as a domain name.

If you use an EMD (Exact Match Domain) as a domain name, using a brand name is less safe. With an EMD, the brand name is for instance 'example' for In this case it is not actually a branded anchor text, but an Exact Match Anchor text.

Generic anchor

Generic anchor texts contain a random text that does not contain a brand, website or keyword. These are texts such as 'click here', 'view now' or 'visit the website'.

Website URL anchor

Website anchor texts contain the website URL. For example:

Image anchor texts

It is always wise to link a number of images to your website. These links contain no anchor text by default and are therefore a good way to apply variation to the link

profile. The anchor text then becomes 'NoText'.

Note: if an image has an alt tag, Google uses this text as anchor text.

Brand name + keyword anchor texts

This is just like the regular brand name anchor text, a safe way to collect links to your website. For example, if the keyword is 'Link building' and the brand name

coachmee', the anchor text will be: ‘Coachmee Link building' or 'Link building Coachmee’. By adding the brand name, this is a safe strategy.

LSI anchor texts

LSI stands for Latent Semantic Indexing. Since 2004 Google has used this to make content not only findable, but also contextual. This concerns the consistency of the

different keywords for one specific topic. An example is someone looking for 'car sales'. The person who is looking for this is probably looking for a good place or way to sell his car, but probably also wants to know how he can sell his car. That is why information about transferring the car to a different name is also relevant.

In this article we are talking about link building. LSI keywords could for example be:

• What is link building

• Link building anchor texts

• Link building tips

• Safe link building

Using you can quickly generate LSI keywords for your topic.

Partial-Match anchor texts

Partial-Match anchor texts are similar to LSI anchor texts. The difference with LSI keywords is that Partial-Match anchor texts are not related (search) words, but simply an

addition to the keyword. For example:

• Read more about link building

• The best information about link building

• More details about link building

These anchor texts are very effective because the keyword is incorporated in the anchor text. At the same time, the anchor text is safe because a variation is added to the keyword at random.

Exact Match anchor texts

Exact Match anchor texts are the most important anchor texts that refer to a website, but are also the most dangerous. Therefore, use it wisely so that you do not run the risk of getting a penalty. An Exact Match anchor text is exactly the keyword you are focusing on, for example "Take out car insurance".

Anchor texts percentages

To use link building in a safe and effective way, you will have to use the right proportions for the different types of anchor texts. If you do not do this, you will not get a result and might even get a penalty.

Besides the use of the different types of anchor texts, it is also wise to use a ratio for the links that refer to the homepage and to the landing pages. Logically you want to refer the more 'general' anchor texts to the homepage and reserve the 'keyword-oriented' anchor texts for the landing pages.

A safe strategy to use, for example, is to include at least 8 variations for every Exact Match anchor text. In other words, 1 in 9 is an Exact Match anchor text. It is wise to use the variations several times, before starting again with the next Exact Match anchor text. what is the right ratio for gathering new links is also very dependent on the current link profile. Have good advice on these proportions and percentages by a link building specialist before starting a link building campaign.

A good basis for link building

It is always wise to start with a number of 'natural' links, namely links that everyone has. Some examples of this include Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter, Instagram and other

social media channels. This is a good basis to start with.

The social media platforms have a good Trustflow and ensure that your website gets this too. The higher the Trustflow, the better the ranking in Google.

Social Media links

The first step is to secure your social media profiles. Create at least these social media channels to lay a foundation:

• Facebook

• Twitter

• Google Plus (personal & business page)

• LinkedIn (personal & company page)

• Pinterest

• Instagram

You do not necessarily have to be very active on all platforms, but it is advisable to place something innovative every now and then. With the presence on the platforms you

also ensure yourself to be findable on all channels, if someone types in your company name.

Another advice is to look closely at the target group on each platform. Consumer-oriented companies will achieve more success on Facebook than companies that are primarily

business-to-business - LinkedIn is better suited for them.

Local links

To rank high in Google's local search results, applying for local links is a strong strategy. Google sees this as relevant links for local search terms, making it an effective way to reach a top position on keywords such as 'web design London'. Given that (almost) every website has a business address for their company, it is smart to always request local links at the beginning of a link building campaign. This is a second basis to impose a confidence ' layer ' on the link profile of the website.

Mind you: social media links and local links are not very relevant. They are quite general links that come from large and well-known websites. This is positive and helps to

increase the confidence of the link profile, but in a competitive market this will often not be enough.

Niche guides (guides focused on the subject)

While many guides and start pages are not worthwhile, there are also guides that are relevant and can also provide a valuable link. These are often company guides that are

specially made for your market or niche, which means that there are only related content and references on it.

A smart way to find these niche guides is to enter the following search query at Google:

• All 'niche / market' companies

• 'Niche / Market' overview

• 'Niche / Market' start page

• 'Niche / Market' guide

• 'Niche / Market' company guide

• Enter 'Niche / Market' website

Local guides (guides focused on the location)

The same applies to local guides. Because the location of the guide matches the physical location of the business address, these are relevant links for the website. A smart way to find these local guides is to enter the following search query at Google:

• Companies in 'Location'

• 'Location' overview

• 'Location' home page

• 'Niche / Market' 'Niche' guide

• 'Location' guide

• 'Location' company guide

• Register 'Location' website

Niche relevant blog comments

Many SEO specialists no longer post blog comments because the links often contain a 'no-follow' tag. This tag ensures that no value is assigned to the link. My advice is to post blog comments when it is a blog that is relevant to the niche or market you are in. With this you create relevance around the website and you increase the relationship between do-follow and no-follow backlinks. This is good for a natural link profile.

Another reason for posting this type of blog is variation in the anchor texts. You also have the chance that visitors to the blog and readers of the comments click through to

your website. This is an extra (and free) chance to score leads. The last advantage of this technique is building a relationship with a blogger. A blog response is a great way to engage with the blogger, share your opinion and also show that you are an expert in your field.

Niche relevant forum responses

Besides blog reactions, it is also wise to be involved in relevant forums. People are often active on forums on a regular basis and they often respond more and faster.

You can find Niche forums in this way:

• 'Niche / Market' forum

• Forum 'Niche / Market'

Make sure you build a recognizable and 'real' profile. Take a good look at the forum rules regarding advertising and do not place in any comment advertising to your website or your services/ products. The profile is also an ideal place to subtly process the keyword, preferably close to the link that is placed to your website. Try to connect a lot with members of the forum, which increases your credibility. You also get a lot of internal links through the connections, which benefits the authority of your profile.

If possible, start your own topic from time to time, to get as much attention as possible on a forum.

3. Powerful link building (SEO) tactics

With powerful backlinks you will achieve the most results, especially when the authority and relevance is optimal.

1. Backlinks by qualitative content

The best way to attract powerful backlinks for link building is qualitative content. Good content automatically attracts links. Three things are important here:

  • 1. Find interesting and relevant keywords to target

  • 2. Write an interesting and distinctive article about these keywords

  • 3. Share the content via social media and relevant bloggers

With qualitative content you ensure a good image of your company, by showing what you know about a certain topic (keyword) and you can solve a specific problem or issue of the target group.

Outside of link building this is a very valuable thing anyway. The goal should therefore not be to write content to get backlinks, but write content to add something valuable to the internet and, as a result of this value, attract relevant and authoritative links. The techniques that follow can in principle be used without qualitative content. However, the better the content is, the faster the results can be achieved.

"I believe in writing extremely valuable content as a link building strategy. When you, as an entrepreneur, marketer or website owner, exceed the expectations of a new reader with the value you offer, you see that most of the links go to you. Of course, link building can be done in various ways by applying different strategies. But the most natural form of link building in my eyes is when someone decides to link to your article, because your article was apparently worth it. Many businesses have never had an active link building strategy, and yet they have received hundreds of backlinks from strong and less strong sites. All this because of the value and high-quality content that they share on their website. "

2. Publish articles to relevant and authoritative bloggers

Finding interesting blogs is a lot of work. It is also not always easy to get into a blog, which makes posting sometimes impossible. The relationships with administrators of such blogs is decisive for success, together with the content that is offered and the quality of it. It is important to be patient, to know which approach works and to keep trying until it succeeds.

3. Niche relevant guest blog posts

Guest Blogging is effective in 2 ways. First, it provides authority and good branding to the outside. Secondly, a guest blog can send relevant traffic to your website.

When placing a guest blog it is essential that the content is added value. A blog that contains little innovative story with a number of backlinks that refer to your website

will not be judged very well. If the article has value, the links in the article will be valued positively.

To get the maximum link value from a guest blog you need to place 1 or more links in the content. A link with the author of the message will assign a lot less value to the link. A guest blog post is often a nice advertisement for your business, if properly designed.

To find a guest blog post opportunities you can enter the following search terms into Google:

• 'Niche / Market' guest blog

• 'Niche / Market' guest blogger

• Send 'Niche / Market' article

• 'Niche / Market' contribution

• 'Niche / Market' write for us

• 'Niche / Market' writers

4. Sources page

Traditionally, many websites have a 'Links' or 'Useful links' page. This contains an overview of sources that can be interesting (and relevant) for the visitor.

To find a guest blog you can enter the following search terms into Google:

• 'Niche / Market' links

• 'Niche / Market' sources

By seeing which links on this website are broken, you can find opportunities to take over this place. The owner of the website gains no benefit in the fact that there are

links on his website that lead to a broken link message (404 page) and would therefore like to replace them.

If there are no broken links present, it is always wise to send an e-mail with a useful source, which the website owner may want to add anyway. A handy Chrome plugin is the

'Check My Links' plugin.

5. Well-known bloggers

The big advantage of online marketing is that everything can be traced. Well-known bloggers who are successful on the internet can be analysed with countless tools. The

following step-by-step plan can help:

• Find a well-known blogger from your niche/market

• Put his or her name in Google as follows:

o By "name" –

• View the websites where this blogger writes

With this strategy you can create a list of potential websites, on which you can also contribute and thus obtain qualitative links at the top of the market.

6. Competition links

A quick way to gather a number of extra links are competition links. Especially for the links that have multiple competitors, they can probably be taken over without difficulty. Observe the value of the links, of course, to determine whether it makes sense to obtain them.

Analysing competitors can cost a lot of time, especially when competitors have many backlinks. However, it is very interesting to have insight into these data. With a good

analysis of these link profiles, the strategy of these parties can be fully mapped out. This makes it all the easier to beat them in Google's search results. It is also a way

to determine a realistic schedule for achieving a certain position.

7. Broken links (404 pages)

In addition to sources, there are other broken links, such as blogs that no longer exist. This is the perfect opportunity to offer your link as a replacement.

One way to do this:

• Make a list of interesting blogs in your niche/market

• Use a tool like Screaming Frog to find broken links (404 pages)

• Approach the website with a suggestion to replace the link for your website

The important thing in this technique is to offer (at least) the same quality as the old link. Otherwise you have a big chance that the website owner will not replace the

link. An extra tip is to send multiple suggestions/links, making it less commercial.

8. Useful web tools

A smart calculation tool or for example a preview tool for meta tags is a good way to generate backlinks. When the tool saves time for the visitor, he will be happy to share

the tool with his network.

9. Reviews

Just like innovative blogs, reviews also mean that a review about a product or service (which has not been done before) can attract a lot of attention. First of all, the owner of the product or service will pay attention to this, especially when it is a very positive review, but the resellers will also be happy to use this to increase their sales.

10. Interviews

Interviewing known people in your market or niche is a great opportunity to get attention. An interview can be very relevant and valuable for many people. The person who is

interviewed naturally also likes to link to the article. An extra option is to be asked for an interview yourself. Always request a link to your website!

11. Ego bait

Ego bait is a strategy where the goal is to attract specific people or groups. By responding to their 'ego', the target group will quickly be inclined to be involved in a certain article. Below are a number of different types of ego bait.

Ask experts for their opinion

When you write an article about a certain subject, you naturally want to know what people think about this. You can kill 2 birds in one stone by asking this opinion from one of the experts on the subject the article is aimed at. On the one hand this gives you insight into the opinion of someone who understands it and on the other hand the possibility to publish the opinion in the article, which the expert most likely likes to link to. This way you can approach some experts to create multiple link opportunities.

Make a top 10 list or think up an award

By creating your own top 10 or award around a certain achievement, you demand attention from at least the people who are nominated in it. The better known these people are, the faster their target group or followers would like to be informed of this award. By promoting the winners and the award, the involved will be happy to link to the website. An example is the 'Top 10 marketing blogs in the UK' or 'Marketing Blog Award'. The platforms that are mentioned will be happy to link to this.

12. Discount codes

Giving away a discount is a nice tactic for link building. There are many organizations and networks (for example schools) where a 'collective discount' is given as standard

for different products or services. Make sure you are added to this and you have a link from an authoritative and often relevant party.

13. Sponsoring and partnerships

With the help of sponsoring, partnerships or participation in a certain association, you also automatically generate links. Think, for example, of network clubs or sports

clubs. It could also be a great motivator to sponsor a good cause!

14. Research

Think of an innovative research and involve experts. Experts will be happy to link to it. For example, what % of companies in the UK do link building. Publish this article on a well-known platform and the companies will like to link to these revealing results, where they are also mentioned themselves.

15. Glossary

Many newcomers to a market or niche do not know the jargon. For example, 'anchor texts' in our case. Create a glossary and offer these newcomers a quick and beautiful solution. You are quickly seen as an expert in your area.

16. Tutorials/Step-by-step plan

Again a nice tactic to be seen as an expert. With a tutorial or step-by-step plan you can offer searchers a solution for their problem.

17. Checklist or tips

Make a handy checklist or a list of tips. Keep it simple. The easier people can use the information, the sooner they will share it with others.

Black-hat Private Blog Network

Private Blog Networks are still very popular with SEO specialists. These networks can give quick results when the authority and relevance is high. Because the network is self-managed, the owner of the PBN 2 has great advantages:

1. There is no need to build a relationship with bloggers

2. Competitors will not be able to get the same links

3. With efficient processes, a private blog network is enormously scalable

A PBN obviously has a major disadvantage, namely the risk that Google automatically or manually labels the network as SPAM and hits you with a penalty. The question you have to

ask yourself is: do I want to take this risk?

A PBN is built up as follows:

• Find an expired domain name with good value

• Secure the domain name and publish a (comparable) website

• Publish articles/links on the website that link directly or indirectly to your website

To find an expired domain name, I can advise you to use the platform DomCop. Domcop can help you find an expired domain name with good values. With Domcop you save a lot of

time to find such a domain name. For example, Domcop publishes new lists of expired domain names every day, including the values such as Trustflow and Citation Flow from

Majestic. In addition, the number of backlinks and the Moz score can also be seen. Domcop has 1,000+ unique domain name auctions every day.

Mind you, the PBNs have to be arranged in a specific way to stay under the 'radar'. This limits the risk of a penalty.

PBN websites are an effective way to get results, but there is always an (increased) risk that Google will detect the 'manipulation'. Remember, however, that white-hat

techniques can also ensure that websites can get a penalty if the SEO specialist does not have sufficient experience. Therefore, always choose an experienced party.

White-hat alternative to PBNs

To avoid the risk of a PBN, It would be better to look at white-hat SEO techniques as an alternative. Instead of purchasing a domain name that has expired and rebuilding it,

follow these steps:

• Find a domain name that has expired with good values

• Export the referring domains

• Find the contact details of the website owners

• Contact them and indicate that the links are pointing to an inactive website

If the referring domains are in your niche, you can send an e-mail with the suggestion to point the link to your website. It is important that the content they are asked to

link to is at least of the same quality or preferably of better quality. This increases the likelihood that the webmaster will place the link.

Grey-hat backlinks

A combination of PBNs and white-hat backlinks is called grey-hat link building. This technique is somewhat safer than black-hat, because some of the links are natural and

'real'. However, the risk remains due to the presence of some black-hat techniques in the method.

Black-hat and grey-hat techniques are only advisable if:

• A website must rank high at any cost (despite the risk)

• A website must rank without publishing content

• It does not matter whether a website gets a penalty

• The SEO agency has sufficient experience to stay under the 'radar' (in other words, a penalty can occur) *

Relevant expired domain names

If you still want to create a private blog network, do it well. Do not just buy an expired domain name. Try to search for domain names that contain similar Topical Trust Flow

for your market/niche. This is not always possible, but it is worth waiting for the right opportunity. Obtaining a link from a relevant domain name is much more effective

than several irrelevant domains.

Start with link building

Link building is a profession in its own right. Think of it as mathematics for advanced students. Therefore, consider using a link building expert for your link building for

optimal results and avoid a penalty.

If you prefer to get started yourself, first try to focus on your (unique) offer and opportunities in terms of content. Content is king. As soon as you offer quality content, the links will come your way with much more ease.

Link building tools

Below are some useful link building tools to use:

Moz (Open Site Explorer)

• Majestic

• Ahrefs

Link Assistant

Link Research Tools

Raven Tools

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