We are always at the mercy of Google’s ever-changing standards, which is why the SEO link building tools that work today might not work tomorrow.
As a result, we are constantly revamping our SEO strategies, trying to find the best ways to use links under Google’s guidelines.
Unfortunately, some of us fall flat on our faces on our quests to optimize our link building practices, and these failures sometimes lead us into temptation. We begin to rely on some of the shadiest practices to boost site traffic.
If 2016 has taught us anything about link building, however, it is that playing by Google’s rules is much more of a mandate than an option. That said, we’re sharing with you a few of the tips that 2016 imparted to us.
Don’t Over-Optimize Your Anchor Text
We all know that links are king on the internet; most of you probably wouldn’t be here right now if you were unaware of this fact.
Knowing, however, is only half of the battle. That is to say, we can’t just mindlessly incorporate links into our content without putting any thought into our anchor text.
That’s right: Google actually cares about the text you use in your links. Not only that, but poorly chosen anchor text can hurt your site’s rank.
“Poorly chosen” here translates to “keyword-stuffed.”
Just as Google does not tolerate keyword-stuffed content, it also does not tolerate an unhealthy apportionment of a healthy number of keywords.
In other words, even if your keyword density is around one percent, if most of the keywords appear as anchor text, Google will have something to say about it.
How, then, should you go about creating good anchor text?
One recommendation is that you familiarize yourself with different types of keywords (e.g. navigation, commercial, informational, etc.) and replace your over-optimized anchor text in order to get back in Google’s good graces.
Do keep in mind that, though we don’t recommend keyword stuffing, we do encourage you to develop a healthy relationship with keywords by learning how frequently to use them and how to optimize them.
Keywords can, after all, be important SEO link building tools.
Organic Traffic Reigns Supreme
Remember when we said that links were king on the net?
Well, as it turns out, we may have provided you with a bit of an “alternative fact”; yes, links are king on the internet, but all links are not created equal.
And the most powerful link of all is the natural link.
Natural links, in contrast with their cousins paid links, are links that come into existence organically. In other words, the owners of the sites which these links refer back to have not orchestrated these links’ appearances on the net.
So what do natural links do for sites besides provide them with backlinks?
Simply put, natural links prove a site’s worth to Google. That is to say, natural links confirm that the content on a site is useful to its visitors, and usefulness turns mere content into quality content.
Natural links also drive organic traffic to your site, which makes them cream-of-the-crop SEO link building tools.
While you should certainly take (almost) every natural link that you can get, you should be aiming to get natural links from reputable, authoritative sources. These sources include sites that are already highly ranked on Google for their top-notch content.
Despite the amazing benefits of securing natural links for sites, though, driving organic traffic to your site is not an easy task. Any blogger or site owner will surely tell you that you have to work hard to earn those backlinks.
Having said that, we suggest that you refrain from trying to outsmart Google by participating in questionable activities and using questionable SEO link building tools online.
These activities and tools include:
- Adding Your Site to Web Directories: Web directories do little more than list and categorize links to various sites. As a result, they aren’t very useful to the general public, which is why Google actually excludes many web directories from its search pages.
- Posting Links to Your Site in Forums and Comment Sections: Just as in the case of web directories, a link to your site in a forum or comment will not help your site rank well. In fact, this practice just reflects badly on you and your site.
- Buying Backlinks: We’ll discuss this one in the next section.
What, then, are the alternatives to doing these things?
Although the alternatives won’t provide you with any instant gratification, they’ll help improve your site’s ranking in the long run. These alternatives include:
- Writing Well-Researched Posts: Posts that actually supply readers with valuable, in-depth information tend to perform better.
- Create Long Copy: Long copy performs quite well nowadays. Some people speculate that the volume of keywords in long copy contributes to this success. Others theorize that long copy just provides more in-depth information and so appeals to audiences more.
- Add Images to Your Content: To be blunt, many people are simply uninterested in reading walls of text. Images attract more visitors to your site, so be sure to use them when appropriate.
To be sure, even relying on these SEO link building tools and standards won’t necessarily make your site a hit. Even so, at least your site will rank, which is a lot more than some people can say.
Use Paid Links Sparingly
Let’s be clear: Paid links don’t always negatively impact sites.
Indeed, there are circumstances in which you are allowed to accept money in exchange for linking to another site. The only catch here is that the link cannot affect your site’s ranking; if it does, you are essentially buying traffic.
Even so, paid links have the potential to hurt your site’s rank if you use them too much, which is why you should use them sparingly (if at all). The same is also true of trading links with other sites.
In other words, trading links and using paid links are not amongst the most viable SEO link building tools on today’s playing field.
While you may use paid links on occasion without suffering any consequences, you should never (ever) buy or sell links with the intention of boosting a site’s page rank.
Though you might be able to get away with this behavior for a while, it will eventually catch up to you.
Well, first of all, if the sites which routinely link back to your site are not credible, their lack of credibility will reflect badly on your site. Thus, your site’s rank will fall.
Furthermore, your competitors will almost certainly report you if they find out that you’re buying or selling links. You are, after all, standing in their way, and bad behavior will definitely make getting rid of you easier.
In either case, once Google gets wind of what you’ve been up to, your site will immediately be removed from Google’s search results. You’ll pretty much go from getting tons of traffic to none overnight.
The lesson here? Don’t buy links because buying them isn’t on Google’s list of acceptable SEO link building tools.
Indeed, internal links can do wonders for your site. They easily draw traffic from one of your site’s pages to another; in other words, you can get a 2 for 1 special if you play your cards right.
You might even be able to get yourself a 3 for 1 special.
You will not, however, get a 10 for 1 special. That is to say, you should not be abusing any valid SEO link building tools in this manner (i.e. stuffing your site’s pages with internal links).
There are so many things wrong this practice, the first of which is the obvious fact that Google will catch on to your link stuffing really quickly and put you in your place (which is nowhere in Google’s search results).
The second problem here is that this type of link stuffing detracts from your content’s quality. Even if you’re an expert on a topic, providing your readers with the perspectives of other experts in your field just makes your content more well-rounded.
True, the other experts are, in fact, competitors, but some of their sites are probably more reputable than yours.
This point about reputable sites leads us to the third and final problem: The 10 internal links which you stuffed onto one web page could very easily have been 2 internal links and 8 external links to reputable sites.
And 8 external links to reputable sites could certainly have gotten you a few backlinks in the future, backlinks which could have earned you some nice traffic.
Not that you were thinking about that when you stuffed your site with internal links.
Blogs Are Some of the Biggest SEO Link Building Tools
We’re not even going to spend a lot of time talking about this one.
Because let’s face it, almost everyone should know better by now.
If you happen to be someone who doesn’t, however, we’re happy to give you a brief lesson on just how beneficial a blog can be for your business.
Succinctly stated, blogs allow you to connect with your clients and keep them updated on things. They also let you publish shareable content that can aid your marketing efforts.
Assuming that your blog’s content is useful and original, you can use it to draw the attention of authoritative sites or news outlets, and, as we’ve pointed out many times during this post, you want those authoritative sites to pay attention to you.
So what can we say about what the year 2016 taught us about how to better use our SEO link building tools?
Well, if it taught us anything at all, it certainly taught us that there are no shortcuts to getting on Google’s first page.
Nor should there be.
Never you worry, though; if your content is as amazing as you think it is and your will is made of iron, we have a feeling that you’ll do just fine in 2017. If you are looking for inspiration for your link building efforts, check out this great list of the 51+ Best Link Building Tools.