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Link building has always been a controversial subject among SEOs. Black-hat techniques have caused trouble for the entire industry and provoke Google to continuously change its algorithms to detect spam. Building links is something that Google says must be natural. The definition of “natural” varies depending on who you talk to, but just about everyone in the industry can agree on what is NOT natural.
I don’t want to address black-hat techniques such as paying for links and building link wheels using free web platforms. I want to address linking methods that are typically accepted in the SEO community, but if done by themselves can harm your ranking.
What I am talking about is link diversity.
Varying your links in order to ensure they appear natural is the easiest way to understand link diversity. However, to accomplish such diversity, you need to stop doing the following.
1. Stop Using the Same Anchor Text
It is common to link from exact match anchor text in order to tell Google what word is related to the content. For example, a backlink to this article from the anchor text “link building strategies” is something most SEOs would strive for.
So how can exact match anchor text harm your site?
Google will judge how natural your links are. Different websites are not always going to use the exact anchor text to link to your site. For instance, some sites may use “link building strategies” to link to this article while others may use “link diversity strategies.”
Using the exact anchor text will show Google that your links are not natural and could assign you a penalty as such. If you want to avoid a penalty, you need to start varying your anchor text.
2. Choosing Only Certain Domain Extensions
If you are aiming to reach domain extensions such as .edu or .org, keep in mind that doing so may look unnatural to Google. It is great to get links from such extensions as they show Google you are being linked to from authoritative sites. However, you also need to make sure to mix in all types of domain extensions.
Any website that is linked from an .edu or .org site is also likely to be linked more from .com and .net websites. Search engines know this and it could cause you to suffer in the search results if you are only coming from certain domain extensions.
3. Quit Linking Only From High Domain Authority Sites
Domain authority is a score assigned to a website that predicts how well it will rank in search engines. It ranges from 0 to 100 and is a fairly good indicator of a site’s authority. Webmasters and SEOs now use domain authority as a replacement for Google PageRank.
The higher the domain authority, the more weight Google seems to give a website. As such, people try to build links from higher ranking sites. The higher the site, the more “Google juice” the link will get.
Only one problem. Google isn’t stupid.
If you are building links from only high authority websites, this is a good indication that your links are not natural. How many websites only get links from Entrepreneur, Forbes, and other high domain websites? If a high domain website is linking to you, that means even more lower domain authority websites will link to you as well.
When building links, make sure to incorporate some lower domain authority sites in order to get a balance. I even recommend adding in some no-follow links.
4. Stop Linking Above the Fold
Above the fold is a term used to describe web content that you can see without scrolling the page. Some feel that a link above the fold is more powerful for SEO as it is one of the first links in an article and therefore must be authoritative.
Again, we are talking above diversity so it is important to vary the location of your link. Link above the fold, below the fold and even in the comments if you can. Varying the location of your link will show Google that it is being used naturally by the website.
Final Thoughts on Link Building Strategies
By now you know that using black-hat link building techniques is likely to get you a penalty and drop your website from search results. However, make sure to be aware that using white hat techniques can be just as bad if you do not incorporate link diversity.
Vary your anchor text, link location, domain authority, and domain extensions to show the search engines your links are natural. This is the best way to maintain positive search results and avoid a Google penalty.
What are your best link building techniques? Do you incorporate link diversity into your link building strategy? Please tell me about any techniques you stopped using and why.