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Link building methods for 2020

What is Off Page Optimisation?

Off page optimisation is considered as an SEO activity where work is mainly done outside of the website itself with the goal to increase search rankings for specific keywords and improve overall authority of your domain. When we talk about off-page optimisation most of the time what we can think of are backlinks; to help you out in this article we prepared an off page SEO checklist to help you optimise your website in the best possible way.

Off Page SEO Techniques & Tricks


Before starting out with any link building strategy the goal is to check our competitors. Get an overall picture of our current position, where we are standing and what are our chances in outranking them must be checked as this will have an impact on our off page strategy and where we need to focus. This can be figured out by using off page SEO techniques we prepared in this article. 


How to Check Your Competitors?

This is a quick routine that involves the use of several SEO tools. Whether you are using SEMRush or Ahrefs, you want to identify who are your main organic competitors. These tools will show up your competitors based on your keyword ranking similarity. The more matches you have to specific competitors it means that they rank for most of your keywords and because of it they are considered as your organic competitors. 


Analyse your competitors backlink profile

How to analyze backlinks from competitors


By checking your competitor backlinks you will be able to figure out what websites are linking to them, what is the type of those backlinks and is this something worth trying to get for your website. This will also give you an average authority they have and show you what strategy are they using to get backlinks. If you see that there are blog mentions or guest posts you will know that those websites will probably be easy to get for your website. 


We will here in most cases see these scenarios:


  • Competitor is doing outreach, reaching to blogs and relevant websites where they link back to them;


  • Competitor is working on manual link building such as directories, forums and comments;


  • Competitor does not have backlinks at all, which tells us there is less competition;


  • Competitor uses shady backlinks and toxic backlinks for quick wins;


  • Competitor is using many activities to get backlinks, all mentioned above;


  • Competitor is doing nothing and gets them natural by being mentioned. They are a well known and established brand so others share their content and use them as reference.

These scenarios can give you an idea of how many backlinks you need to get. Even if this isn’t that accurate, as SEMRush and Ahrefs don’t show all of the backlinks in the real time and it can give you a hint of your off page SEO strategy and how to proceed from it for your own website.


Analyze your own backlink profile


Sometime over the specific period of time our website will get hit by spam. This happens often and there is no way for us to avoid this. Even with Google saying that these links don’t affect our rankings we find it different and hard to believe. 


Best place for us to check these types of backlinks is by using Google Search Console account. This tool is great because it is made by Google and its data is much more accurate than one found on SEMRush or Ahrefs as these tools get data from them and other sources anyways.

Analyzing backlinks using Google Search Console

Caption: Google Search Console links overview for top linking sites


Navigating to Links tab on the left side of your Google Search Console account you will be able to see on the right a box where it says top linking sites. Opening this box we will see all websites that are currently linking towards our website. Note that this also can’t be 100% accurate but this is the best place to check it out. What we want to see here are strange TLD sites such as xyz, and some other spammy sites. If our activities never got these backlinks and we know that this is spam we want to disavow those backlinks.


How to disavow bad backlinks?

Even with this process being very easy, and all that it takes is a simple txt file you need to be extremely careful. One of the preferred ways to get rid of bad links is to contact such website and ask them to remove a link to you in most cases you won’t get a reply. This tool will tell Google that you no longer want to receive any link juice from that website. If you accidentally remove good domains it will impact and lower your rankings and organic visits overall. In order to minimize your risk if you are not sure which ones to remove it is best to consult with an SEO specialist. If you still want to try it out on your own, create more txt files and add the first one and see after a couple of weeks if there was any impact on your website traffic and if any pages lost rankings. If you managed to disavow right backlinks you should see change in your rankings and improvement. If there are more backlinks to disavow after, ones we were not so sure about we want to add them in addition to that previous txt file. So we will not upload 2 files as it is possible to only upload 1 file. 


This means that we will add these new spammy backlinks on the bottom of the disavow tool. You can make a comment line for your own reference to know when a specific backlink was added and continue on until you clean your toxic link profile. If you see any drop you will just restore to the previous version that had no negative impact. Keep in mind that this process can take some time and that you need to be patient when performing AB testing for link removal.

Find Easy Wins & Focus on Long Term Strategy


With your done research above you will be able to identify quick wins for your website and claim those backlinks. Still by doing so we are far away from outranking competitors. This is why we need to create a long term SEO strategy for our website. Note that you will not be able to get all  of your competitor backlinks but only a smaller percentage of it. 

Link Building Methods & Tricks

Backlinks Strategy

Link building is always expanding and SEO’s need to adapt to new changes that are generating results for their clients. Because of this there are multiple ways of you to start off with link building. Here are some of the most popular link building techniques.

Broken Link Building


This case happens when our competitor does all the hard work. Finds a good blog post gets featured and we let the time do its own thing. After a couple of years our competitor might change their URL structure on the website, delete the page etc. This creates 404 external links on a page that has high potential to link for those specific websites that are doing the same. 

How to Get Broken Backlinks?


In order to find these backlinks, start off with using the Check My Links Chrome extension. This is a free tool that will analyze response codes of all internal and external links on a specific page. You will need to find those blog posts and run the tool. After you identify 404 opportunities simply create content that is similar and that should fill the gap for that place. Reach out to the website and ask them if they would like to consider to update the blog, fix 404 pages and replace it with fresh content that is up to date.

Brand Mentions


If you are working for a client that has an established business and good authority usually in these cases people talk a lot about their brand. This talking provides references, people link to them in their websites and in lots of cases they just add their name as a simple text that is not linked. Finding these brand mentions is simple and has a high chance of converting and getting the backlink. For example if you are a manufacturer of specific products your retailers in most cases will just add manufacturer name as a regular text for that product, this is a place where you can get a backlinks.

If some website is already talking about our website but didn’t link chances are very high that they will link back if we just ask them. As they already used our name we won’t be left out without reply. 

How to Find Brand Mentions?


By using commands on Google such as intitle: brand name or inurl: brand-name or related: brand name. Note that you can do different variations here and expand your search on Google results. 


Guest Posts


Guest posts are the most popular link building technique as it offers high chances of getting good backlinks for your website. Currently there are debates in the SEO world if these links are worthy but from our own experience if the website offering guest post is relevant to you this link will for sure help your rankings.

How to Find Guest Post Websites? 

Guest posts are usually websites offering specific forms of application where we can submit our articles. With websites offering guest posts and having high authority this is most likely to turn out to be a paid opportunity. If you plan on investing and having a separate budget for your link building this is a good place to start. Prices are different from one website to another and they can go anywhere from 30$ up to couple of thousands of dollars depending on the website organic traffic and authority.


If you consider to start this as a link building technique keep in mind that these websites will not write the content for you. Not only do you need to reach out to them and make a deal, either free or paid but you also need to write a completely new article that is not duplicate and follow their guidelines of content writing.


Directories / Listings for Local SEO Businesses


These are easy backlinks to get. Specifically these backlinks can help you with your local SEO rankings. So if your business is reliable on local SEO this should be your key strategy to improve local visibility for your brand. 


How to Find Directories / Listings?


Start with examining your local area. What are the popular websites, and if they allow you to submit your website there with phone, address and business name including link of the website. The more of those you get and with consistent NAP ( name, address, phone ) you will rank better for your local search terms. Note that for these backlinks you also need to get relevant directories, submitting your website to any directory will only cause more spam.


Private Blog Networks


This is a popular link building method for advanced SEO folks who know how to hide their tracks and stay safe from search engines. This link building method with PBN’s is quite expensive and will take a massive amount of your time and to set it up properly. Keep in mind that this is considered as black hat SEO and if search engines find this out you will get a penalty.


How Does The Private Blog Network Works?


There are millions of domains that exist nowadays. Not all of them are being used. With domains being renewed every year of a couple more if you pay in advance, people sometimes forget to renew these domains and they simply expire. What happens over this period of time is that these were genuine websites, with solid authority. If we add up that that domain was relevant to what we do now this is a great potential for PBN.


Once the domain is expired it is set first for public auction in most scenarios. These prices can go anywhere from a couple of hundreds of dollars up to thousands of dollars. The more authority domains have and better backlinks the price will be higher. When you buy a domain your costs do not end up here. You will need to pay for separate hosting, using VPN hosting, different themes for your website and completely different content that is unique and not used in other places.


From this PBN once set up you can link to your original website using desired anchor text. Having PBN is great because you can make more money from them by offering paid guest posts.


How to Stay Safe?

Make sure to use different hosting for each website, access different websites from different devices, always use different themes if your website is on WordPress and write solid 5-10 pages of content that is just unique so the website is well representative. Even with all security steps taken, remember that you are always at risk of penalty since you may never know what search engines can do to find private blog networks that attempt search result manipulation. This method is only for persons who are for a long time in SEO, know the risks but also know how to do short wins.


Natural Link Building


This is the safest method of getting backlinks and requires great content for your readers. Websites that do good in terms of content and invest its own time in creating good videos, infographics and catchy photos tend to get natural backlinks. Your readers will reward you for taking good time to put together a good content piece that actually helps people who land on that page.


With an attractive cover image, catchy headlines, custom videos and effects this creates a bond with your visitors and they are more likely to share it with their friends or even on their website. People nowadays are more in pursuit of something that is quality and that can easily be shared so they get the benefit of investing less time but sharing something with their audience that makes them also more trustworthy.


Infographics / Video Content


Video content and photos are mostly shared online. Implementing such sections in your pages will increase not only social signals to your page but it will also help you much faster to distribute your content over the internet. Using video material on your pages is the next big thing that will happen in the future even more. Having good quality video on your page simply keeps your visitors longer as they are switching their center of attention from reading into listening video material. As videos are much easier to remember compared to text reading people stay on your pages until the video lasts. In a recent study done pages with videos kept visitors longer vs pages without video content. 


Local Events & Webinars 


Another way of building backlinks for your brand is trying to attend local events in your area. If you sign up for these events and contribute in most cases you will get backlink from these events as a sponsor or presenter etc. Another option is also to be part of webinars and discuss specific topics with people who are connected to what you do. Benefit of webinar is that it takes a lot of time to prepare and there is heavy marketing on it before it starts so that most people will join. If you sign up on these not only do you get free promotion but you will earn backlink and people in your niche will see you as a trusted source.


What is The Difference Between Do-follow and No-follow Backlinks?

In link building the biggest challenge is to find do-follow backlinks. But why are they so important? Reason why these links are great is that this specific type of backlink will pass the authority from website to your website. This means that the more do-follow backlinks you have for your website built on high authority websites your authority will grow. 

In case for no-follow backlinks these links are pretty common and you will face them mostly in your manual link building. Are they worthy? Of course, even if a backlink is not passing you authority, the biggest benefit is that these links can pass you a good amount of referral traffic. If a backlink sends constantly quality referral traffic Google will reward this.


Additional Free Tips to Get Backlinks


  • Add social sharing buttons at the bottom of your article. Don’t make a mistake here and just add social sharing buttons. Write a short text and call people to take action where you tell them if you liked the article and have a friend who might be interested in it share it with them using social media platforms below. 


  • Post your content on your social media channels. There is not a case where all audiences from social media will come to your website, even your own followers. Distributing your content across social platforms such as LinkedIn, Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and others increase chances of your content to get seen and it can help alternatively with more backlinks as a reward.


  • Build up connections in your industry and work on your network. By expanding our connections and meeting with new people, editors, journalists we increase our chances of getting featured on other websites. 


What to Avoid?


Stay away from backlinks with high spam scores and a big amount of external links. To check the spam score of each website we recommend using the free Chrome extension made by Moz. 


Once you create the account and download extensions from Google Store it will show you the spam score of each website you visit. If you see that websites have spam scores of over 20% you know that something bad is going to happen. It is a much better solution to search quality websites that don’t attempt any cheating and have a clean backlink profile.


These websites can only hurt your rankings. It builds up a negative picture of your business. People who are about to connect with you if they know what they do and see your website having a high spam score will most likely ignore your requests.


If the opportunity seems easy and the website has high authority but is not relevant do not try going on such opportunities. Remember to always build up relevant backlinks. It does take time but on a long run the effect is much higher.


When hiring marketing agencies for link building if you continue often to change them this can cause a real mess for your backlink profile. Why? Usually digital agencies keep those login details into separate sheets where once you stop working with them you may not have access to those backlinks. Always keep your backlink login details if you made them so that you can remove them if something bad happens. You may never know what website that is linking for you may get in future.

Link building is an activity that involves a lot of time and patience. On top of this you need to be aware of the money needed for such activity as it requires many hours involved. Hiring cheap link building agencies that claim low prices for link building can only cause you harm as you will most likely end up with rubbish where it is even more expensive to get out after. 


How to Remove Your High Spam Score?


This process takes time. What is recommended to do is to reach out to websites that are linking back to you. To find your backlinks simply open your Google Search Console account and identify low quality backlinks. Your spam score can be high for several reasons. One of those reasons is that you get backlinks from websites with high spam scores. Other reasons can be bad content quality, viruses, low number of pages, numeral domains, use of poison words and other black hat tactics. 


With our disavow file on Google Search Console these extensions that other marketers use still show up that such websites are linking back to you as they have no access to check your disavow files. Even if you fix this on your own end it will display for all others that the issue is present.


Outreaching to such websites and asking them to remove backlink to your website is the solution that works best in this case. It does take time and a lot of nerves but a clean spam score is always better than a high one.


Link Building Conclusion


How to build backlinks

Before you start with any link building activities first analyze your competitors to see what they are doing. Check their backlink profile, once you identify their strong and weak spots analyze your own backlink profile. 


With this insight you can work slowly on your link building strategy and based on your niche competitiveness you can see which backlink method will work best for you.


Always aim for relevancy and high quality backlinks. This work requires lots of patience and skill, not anyone can do this. Proceed with safe methods that are in low risk


Still Not Sure How To Get Started?


SWOT Digital can help you. We are a digital agency based in Dublin, Ireland specialising in SEO. Before getting started simply fill our contact form and get on a call with our SEO specialist that will guide you through the link building process and create the best strategy specifically for your website for maximum growth.


To receive your backlink audit report send us an email at [email protected]


Author: Paulo

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