Link Optimization versus Link Building

Does Building Links For My Web Site Matter Anymore?

does building links work anymore?

Before I answer this question submitted by Scott on our SEO Roadmap Facebook Fan page, let’s first discuss the Google Penguin update and how it impacted the way you should be doing SEO and Internet Marketing in general.

Link Optimization Post Google PenguinFace it … the Google Penguin update has changed the face of SEO forever; many of the tactics that you learned just do not work anymore.  In fact, many of the tactics you used in the past may be part of the Google Penguin’s algorithm which will now discount your site in ranking.  Previous SEO tactics are going to hurt you.

Everyone is Talking About the Same Thing … Is SEO Dead?

Search Engine Optimization was and remains to be the art and science of optimizing your Web site for relevant keywords, which target qualified visitors to generate leads and sales using the search engines.

The answer is, “no, SEO is not dead.”  However, there are many changes in the tactics, techniques and practices we use to optimize our Web sites.  It’s important that you understand this.

What About Links?

Without a doubt, I can attest that link optimization and link building will still influence your site’s rankings in the search engines.

What has changed are the mechanics of how you build your linking profile.

What Type of Links Should I Avoid?

Quoting from Danny Sullivan at Search Engine Land:

Avoid any link building activity where the only reason you’re doing the activity is purely to build links for search engine rankings.

See, you keep asking about all these places because you’ve learned links are important. But what’s also important is that you need important links. Running around the Web getting easy links — anyone can do that.  So those links don’t count for as much.

What you want is to be linked from places where there’s an actual audience that might see your link and click on it directly to visit.  Do that, and you’re building the type of links the search engines want to reward.”

What Type of Links Should I Target?

Again quoting Danny Sullivan from the same article:

You want links from places that link because they think some human being will find the link a way to get more information beyond what’s on the page itself, not because the link may help someone rank better.”

Link Optimizing versus Link Building

Pre Google Penguin, the winner was the Web site that had the most backlinks.

Post Google Penguin, the winner is the Web site that has the most optimized linking profile.

Link profiles that appear “over optimized” will fail; Web sites that appear natural will rise to the top.  This is key to remember.

Link Optimization Tools

These are the three tools we recommend to get started:

  • Open Site Explorer – from SEOMoz. (Link for a free trial)
  • Majestic SEO – Largest Link Intelligence Database in the World.
  • SEORecon – Analyzes your competitive landscape to identify the most important SEO factors within your niche.

Step 1: Link Optimization – Keyword Research

Even after the Google Penguin update, keyword research remains the foundation of all good SEO and Internet Marketing.  Without it, your business will fail.

However, since Google Penguin, we need to take our keyword research one step further by categorizing, grouping and filtering keywords.

To make keyword research more actionable, you need to be able to categorize, group and filter keywords.  Deep insight into category-based search behavior can make your research considerably more effective.” : Richard Baxter – SEOMoz

In this phase of your link optimization, you are in, what I call, the brainstorming phase.  Your goal in this brainstorming phase is to harvest as many keywords and keyword phrases as you possibly can within your niche.

Harvest keywords from your Google Analytics account and use keyword research tools such as the Google Keyword Tool, Wordtracker (7 day free trial) or Market Samurai (free copy and my favorite SEO tool) and save them to one Excel file.

When you’re done, you should have well over a thousand keywords in your list.

Step 2: Link Optimization – Spy on Your Competitors

The easiest way to get that top listing in Google is to spy on your competitors in your niche.  This helps you to understand why they are successful and then do it better then they are.

We go into much more detail on how to do competitive analysis in our Advanced SEO Workshop video, but basically we want to identify how and where competitors are getting their backlinks and what keywords their site(s) are ranking for.

Using your link optimization tools, you would save all their backlinks and keywords to a CVS file.

Step 3: Link Optimization – Categorize

Now the fun stuff … categorizing all the data you collected.

Keyword Categorization: Richard Baxter goes into great detail in his blog post on using categories in your keyword research.

But basically, what you would do is create a category table with headers of each of your category names and adding “markers” to each category.

Backlink Categorization: What type of links do you have?  What type of links do your competitors have?

This is all very important information you need to know to be successful in online marketing today.

SEORecon interfaces with Majestic SEO to make this job a lot easier for you by identifying your top competitors’ links in your niche.

However if you’re a little bit on the nerdy side and enjoy crunching data in Excel, then I would suggest reading this article on “Categorizing Your Links with Excel and Open Site Explorer” from the SEOGadget blog and downloading their free “linking data” spread sheet.

Step 4: Link Optimization – Add More Whip Cream and Nuts

If you have been doing SEO for any amount of time, I can assure you that you have a number of questionable links to your site that Google feels are spammy.

Removing these questionable links from your linking profile is a very timely and tedious process.

Matt Cutts has hinted that Google’s Webmaster Tools may soon include a “link removal tool.”  However, by using it, you will be snitching to Google that you’ve participated in a linking scheme.

What I recommend instead is to dilute the spammy links in your link profile with links from high authority websites, while also focusing on building branded links to your profile.

Step 5: Link Optimization – 200+ Tips on Creating Backlinks

On October 10th we will be hosting a 1-hour free Webinar – 200+ Tips on Creating Backlinks.

During this free Webinar, we will review a number of our SEO team’s top strategies to obtain links for their own Web sites and our clients’ Web sites along with giving away 2 free copues of our new eBook “200+ Strategies on Creating Backlinks to one of our lucky participants.

To register for this free 1-hour Webinar, click here now.

Do You Have a SEO Question that You Would Like Answered?

Do you have a question about SEO or Internet Marketing that you would like answered by one of our SEO professionals?

If so please post it on our SEO Roadmap Facebook page.

David Evans
David Evans
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16th September 2012 13 Comments

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