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Link Building Guide

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Table Of Contents

What is Link Building?

Link building is the process of gaining inbound links (also known as back-links) from other websites pointing to your business’s website. Link building can greatly boost your website rankings if done as per Google quality guidelines and professionally, and it can drive referral traffic to your website too. Links are the backbone of Google search results calculations. Using the link building factor (alongside several other factors) Google determines which website has good quality and relevant links and could be a useful information source for the online community, therefore tending to give high rankings to such quality websites. Some businesses engage in buying inbound links to influence their rankings using black hat link building methodologies but such tactics don’t work well with Google, and Google algorithms detect and penalise them.

The best practise is always to pursue white hat Google guidelines based natural link building process. It can be a time consuming and difficult process but it is worthwhile. 

Why is Link Building Required?

The major difference between Google and other search engines such as Yahoo, Bing, Ask, Duckduckgo is their rankings strategy. Google’s popular PageRank algorithm makes Google distinctive from other search engines. PageRank is a link analysis algorithm developed and used by Google to rank websites/pages in its search results. Google used to display PageRank externally to webmasters/website owners on a scale between 0-10, with 0 being the lowest PR and 10 being the highest PR. Although PageRank still remains an important internal Google algorithm signal, Google doesn’t show PageRank externally to website owners anymore since 2016.

Link building is necessary because it is the backbone of Google search results. Online competition amongst businesses is very high on Google. In order to stay ahead of your competitors, link building is required because Google uses link popularity to figure out how to rank websites in its SERP’s. 

Google looks at several factors of the link to determine its trustworthiness. Below are some of the factors that help to determine the quality of link.

  1. Domain authority

  2. Page authority

  3. Do-follow vs no-follow

  4. Anchor text

  5. Internal or external links

  6. Spam ratio

  7. Editorial links

  8. Link relevance

  9. Content quality of linking article

  10. Link position on the page

  11. Source depth

  12. Age of the page and link

  13. Natural & unnatural links

  14. Number of links on the page


10 Popular Link Building Techniques/Strategies

1. High Quality Content Creation: Create high quality, unique, informative and engaging content and tell people about your content. There are good chances that people would want to link to your content if your content is:

  • Original Content: If your content is original, unique and informative, for example surveys and research, or presenting any information that is useful for the online community.

  • Detailed Information Guide: If your topic covers detailed useful information about one topic and explains it thoroughly and wins the trust of the reader.

  • Informative Visual Articles: Articles providing information in various ways e.g. charts, images, graphs, lists etc alongside text information.

  • Catchy Words: Catchy words are very useful to make your content article interesting; such words are: new, techniques, amazing, reasons, most, myths, lists, tips, why choose, exclusive and how to etc.

2. Broken Link Building: This is a very famous and most widely used technique amongst link building professionals and website owners. The idea is simple: you help other businesses by bringing to their attention broken links on their websites and in return ask for a replacement link to your website as a favour. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t – it depends on the situation and your pitch. Here are simple steps that you can follow to acquire links through the broken link building strategy:


  • Find broken links using free link analysis tools.

  • Generally you find more broken links on pages that have a high volume of outbound links.

  • Make a list of broken links.

  • Send a personalised email to the website owner about the broken link.

  • Pitch your request to the website owner for an inbound link to your article in the email too.

Sometimes you can also look for and obtain broken links through suspended or expired domains and analyse to see if they are of high domain authority. You can do some strategic efforts to gain a back-link from such websites pointing to your website.


3. Products & Services: Inform people especially blog owners about your unique products and services; they may like your products or services and link back to them.

4. Genuine Email Outreach: Email outreach is another popular methodology to acquire high domain authority back-links for your website. Find your business related websites using several free link analysis tools; these websites could potentially back link to your website. Find their contact details and send them a professional and personalised genuine email requesting a back-link.


5. Useful Resource Webpages: Find “useful links” pages that other businesses or bloggers have created within their websites to link out to external useful information. Think about a reason why other websites would want to link out to your website from their “useful links” page; the reason could be e.g. your content article is a great resource for the online community, or you are offering some special discounts or offers etc. 

6. Manual Link Building: Ask other businesses operating in the same field to link back to your website and in return provide a link to their website on your links page; set up a new links webpage on your website. Manual link building is also called link for link or link exchange program. It is now an outdated approach and in fact not recommended by Google but it still exists and is widely used by businesses to acquire more inbound links for their websites.

7. Paid Links: Google algorithms do not like this approach and are designed to detect and penalise websites indulging in buying or selling links. Using the paid link building approach, businesses offer money in exchange of acquiring inbound links. Paid links are generally Dofollow inbound links. This approach is considered as unnatural link building approach.

8. Guest Posting: Guest posting was once a very effective link building approach but the effect is now fading away because of low quality guest posting spam work. The guest posting main objective was to publish useful informative content for the online community but it is now becoming popular to acquire inbound links and to improve search rankings of websites. Guest posting can have a positive impact if it is done correctly using high quality content work.

9. Directory or Profile Links: Directory or profile links do not influence the rankings of a website on search engines. Yes, a link from a high quality genuine web directory can bring some traffic to your website and this traffic can positively influence your SEO efforts to some extent. Duplicating the same information on hundreds of directories wouldn’t help your website at all and will be detected by Google Webspam filters.

10. Footer Links: Footer links are mostly created and used by web design and marketing agencies in the form of “Website Designed by Example Company” or “Website Promoted by Example Agency”. As long as these sorts of links are posted in moderation and using different anchor text and target URL’s, they can influence your website rankings positively to some extent.


Nofollow vs Dofollow Back Links

“Dofollow” and “nofollow” are the values assigned to the rel attribute that tells search engines whether the link is important or of no use. Value rel=”nofollow” link doesn’t influence the rankings whereas rel=”dofollow” link has an impact on the rankings of the website.

“Dofollow” links are beneficial links that pass authority to your website and help to improve your website rankings on Google, whereas “nofollow” links are not counted and do not pass any authority to your website.  “Nofollow” tag is generally used when the linking website doesn’t want to endorse another website or it is an affiliated or sponsored link. The only major benefit of “nofollow” tag is the traffic generated from such links for your website.  It is also true that “nofollow” links are not harmful links at all and do not put any negative impact on SEO but to get the maximum link benefit acquiring “dofollow” links should be your priority. 

7 Popular Link Building Metrics

Link building metrics can help you to analyse the quality of a back-link and decide whether the link is worth getting hold of or not. There are a number of link building metrics and we have outlined some of the main ones below:

1. Domain Authority: Domain authority is also called DA, Domain Strength, Home Page Authority and Domain Sitewide Authority. Domain Sitewide authority is a very important metric and helps you analyse the quality of the link. Links with higher domain authority are particularly useful and can put far more positive impacts than links from low domain authority websites.  Domain authority is the value of the whole domain instead of individual webpages (individual pages authority is called Page Authority). 

Generally it is a bit difficult to gain links from high domain authority websites or blogs. Domain authority is calculated between 0-100, 0 being the lowest and 100 being the highest Domain Authority of websites. The major benefit of gaining inbound links from high Domain Authority websites is that they can pass good domain authority to your website. 

2. Page Authority: Page Authority is also called PA, Page Strength, Authority of the Page and Internal Pages Authority. Page Authority is the authority of the single page rather than the entire website. Page Authority is the most essential metric out of all the link building metrics. Gaining inbound links from high authority pages can pass more authority to your pages and website or blog as a whole. 

3. Link Anchor Text: Anchor text is also called link text or link label and is clickable text in the link. Anchor text plays a role in keyword rankings. E.g. if you run a dental practice in London and you obtain a link from a high domain authority website/blog with anchor text “Dentist London”, Google will use the link anchor text as a signal when prioritising target keywords in its search results. Keyword stuffing in anchor text is bad practise and Google can penalise such websites rather than giving them higher rankings. It is best practise to use different anchor text while obtaining inbound links from other websites, and to avoid using the same anchor text in the high volume of links.

4. Relevance: Alongside the DA, PA, Anchor text and other link building metrics, relevance is also an important metric. E.g. if you are a plumber that runs a small business in a particular location and a high domain authority website or blog in the tradesman category back links to your website, Google will consider this link far more important than non-relevant websites linking to your website. 

5. Link’s Position: Positioning the link in a visible place is far more important than an invisible or low visibility place on the webpage. The body section or top section of the page is generally the most visible and visited part of the page. Links position is important as links embedded into the body content are more important than footer or sidebar links on the pages.  It is advisable to obtain links from the body content of the page to reap the maximum benefit of the link building process.


6. Natural Links: A natural link obtained from another high domain authority website where they link back to your website because of the quality of your products or services is far more important than placing a spam profile link on low quality websites or directories.

7. Choose Quality over Quantity: A number of back-links pointing to your website gives strength to your domain and pushes your website rankings higher on SERP’s but only if they are of high quality. Therefore quality over quantity is extremely important when it comes to link building.

25 Link Building Mistakes

We have outlined some of the most common mistakes that you should avoid while carrying out link building work for your website:

  1. Avoid black hat link building techniques.

  2. Do not buy inbound links.

  3. Avoid bulk buying or high volume links at one time.

  4. Avoid links from low quality spam websites.

  5. Avoid use of the same anchor text in the back-links.

  6. Collecting links from websites that are either blocked by search engines or are not indexed.

  7. Avoid links from irrelevant websites.

  8. Do not focus too much on domain authority or page authority.

  9. Avoid duplicate content to attract back-links.

  10. You do not update your links regularly.

  11. Links from duplicate websites with the same IP address.

  12. Selling links on your website.

  13. Obtaining footer section links which are less useful.

  14. Avoid link exchange on a large scale.

  15. Avoid obtaining links through spam forum and blog comments.

  16. Gathering all “Nofollow” inbound links.

  17. Avoid “Private Blog Networks” (PBN) unnatural links; this is a black hat practise and against Google quality guidelines.

  18. Missing the opportunity to obtain links through link reclamation technique.

  19. Avoid text advertisement or advertorial links.

  20. Avoid excessive Sitewide links as they can raise suspicion to search engine algorithms.

  21. Gathering image based inbound links.

  22. Obtaining links from websites that have very poor DA, PA and already have hundreds of links on the same page.

  23. Arranging only “Dofollow” back-links.

  24. Avoid automated link generation methodologies to influence rankings.

  25. You are only building links for the homepage and ignoring the internal pages.

Deceiving search engines through hundreds of low quality links, automated link exchange programs, duplicate content or exact match anchor text may give you short term results but ultimately Google algorithms will detect such bad practises and there will be a heavy price to pay in terms of a dramatic drop in rankings or search penalties.

30 Link Building Tools

Using link building tools, you can run your own link building campaign in-house with less effort and money and it could save you time as well. With the help of link building tools you can take your link building campaign to the next level. Modern link building tools are especially useful in 3 areas: research, outreach and reporting. Below are some link building tools:

  1. Ahrefs

  2. Majestic 

  3. Linkody

  4. Pitchbox

  5. Agency Analytics

  6. GroupHigh

  7. BuzzStream

  8. Ontolo

  9. JustReachOut

  10. Moz Link

  11. Muck Rack

  12. SEMrush

  13. NinjaOutreach

  14. BuzzSumo

  15. Mailshake

  16. Kerboo

  17. CognitiveSEO

  18. Monitor Backlinks

  19. Linkio

  20. SE Ranking 

  21. Whitespark

  22. Group High 

  23. Link Prospector

  24. URL Profiler

  25. Raven Tools

  26. Traackr

  27. Linkassistant

  28. XOVI

  29. Fresh Link Finder

  30. SERPstat


25 Link Building Tips and Tricks

  1. Use your main business related keywords as your anchor for inbound links.

  2. Make sure all of the inbound links are working. Reclaim any inbound links that you lost due to design change. Identify such links and make sure they are pointing to the working pages of your website.

  3. Publish high quality articles on your website to attract natural links from high quality blogs or websites.

  4. Gain inbound links from high domain authority and high page authority websites.

  5. Gain inbound links from relevant websites.

  6. Focus on inbound link quality, not quantity.

  7. Do not stuff keywords in the anchor text while gaining inbound links from external websites/blogs.

  8. Obtain natural media links generated through Public Relations or quality content production.

  9. Offer genuine discounts or scholarships to students in an attempt to gain links from Universities or Colleges’ websites.

  10. Find and obtain inbound Curated links from niche business related blogging articles.

  11. Avoid obtaining too many inbound links with the same anchor text.

  12. Obtain links from relevant websites or blogs.

  13. Gather social media links from popular high quality social media websites.

  14. Write quality articles to publish on external quality blog websites and you can request a link to your website at the bottom of your article.

  15. Gather links from your partner businesses, suppliers or manufacturers, or clients’ websites.

  16. To reap the maximum benefit, link placement should be in the body content.

  17. Obtain broken links through suspended or expired domains and analyse to see if they are of high domain authority and make efforts to gain a back-link to your website.

  18. If you participate in events, ask for a natural back-link from the event hosting company.

  19. Natural links are more important than random directories or profile back-links.

  20. Make sure that the inbound link doesn’t have “nofollow” value assigned; instead it should have “dofollow” value assigned.

  21. Create high quality unique, informative, engaging articles containing catchy words, lists, graphs, charts, research, and surveys etc so that other high DA websites are encouraged to give natural links to your website.

  22. If other websites or bloggers are using your charts, images or any other assets related to your business without your permission, you can send them a friendly email requesting a link back to you website in return of using your business assets.

  23. Avoid low quality spam guest posting to acquire more inbound links for your website.

  24. Avoid automated link generation techniques; they can harm your online presence on search engines.

  25. Obtain .Gov, .Edu, .Org links as they can be very useful for your link building campaign.


150+ Link Building Directory & Profile Listing Websites

Obtaining links from genuine and high quality reputed directories could help your website to a certain extent. Directory listing is not the most effective way to improve your domain authority or influence website rankings but it can help your new website to get established or recognised fast on search engines. High quality directories inbound links may not benefit your website dramatically in terms of rankings or DA but they can be very useful for lead generation and web traffic which ultimately affects website rankings positively. We have compiled a useful list of 150+ directories and profile websites where you can obtain links pointing to your website for free:

1. Google
2. Yahoo
3. Bing Places
4. Google My Business
5. Yellow Pages 
6. Opendi
7. Loopt
8. Openlist
9. Chamber of Commerce
10. Freeindex
11. HotFrog
12. Superpages
13. Scoot
14. 192
15. Botw
16. InsiderPages
17. Alignable
18. MerchantCircle
19. Better Business Bureau
20. Cylex
21. Blogarama
22. Business Magnet
23. Foursquare
24. LinkedIn
25. Manta
26. Brownbook
27. TouchLocal
28. Central Index
29. Trade Finder
30. AboutUs
31. SearchMe4
32. eLocal
33. DexKnows
34. Locanto
35. Yelp
36. Hometalk
37. Gravatar
38. About
39. Newsvine
40. Indyarocks
41. Allwomenstalk
42. Realtown
43. Shewrites
44. Docracy
45. Storeboard
46. Mombloggersclub
47. Covnews
48. Knoji
49. Futureofeducation
50. Green Blog
51. Schoolrack
52. Medicalmingle
53. Wesrch
54. Imfaceplate
55. Managementparadise
56. Coactivate
57. Tripoto
58. Mytechlogy
59. Frienditeplus
60. Tripntale
61. Audioboom
62. Authorstream
63. Bizsugar
64. Blogcatalog
65. Core77
66. Bookcrossing
67. Cellphoneforums
68. Colourlovers
69. Community articulate
70. Community thomsonreuters
71. Coursera
72. Cyclingforums
73. Dead
74. Diigo
75. Disqus
76. Dpreview
77. Etsy
78. Zoolit
79. Adsoftheworld
80. Anyflip
81. Armorgames
82. Bitly
83. Buttermouth
84. Community Wikia
85. Community Zooppa
86. Creativemarket
87. Creativemornings
88. Wonderhowto
89. Dzone
90. Calameo
91. Exposure
92. Figdig
93. Flipboard
94. Bristolpost
95. Plymouthherald
96. Walesonline
97. Lichfieldmercury
98. Bathchronicle
99. Birminghampost
100. Leamingtoncourier
101. Suttoncoldfieldobserver
102. Birminghammail
103. Gloucestershirelive
104. Spenboroughguardian
105. Examiner
106. Westernmorningnews
107. Devonlive
108. Batleynews
109. Ilkestonadvertiser
110. Somersetlive
111. Hucknalldispatch
112. Motherwelltimes
113. Crewechronicle
114. Nottinghampost
115. Expressandstar
116. Surreymirror
117. Cornwalllive
118. Bucksherald
119. Morleyobserver
120. Luton Dunstable
121. Bedfordshire News
122. Shorehamherald
123. Peterboroughtoday
124. Kingstonuponthamespages
125. Eastbourneherald
126. Walsalladvertiser
127. Newspostleader
128. Scotsman
129. Carlislepages
130. Southyorkshiretimes
131. Lancasterguardian
132. Behance
133. Houzz
134. Quora
135. Instructables
136. Hubpages
137. Academia
138. Shutterfly
139. Edublogs
140. Thedigitel
141. Medium
142. Kinja
143. Myfitnesspal
144. Wistia
145. Skyrock
146. Gamnesia
147. Travelblog
148. Signalscv
149. Issuu
150. Github
151. Empowher
152. Minds
153. Archilovers



Local Valuable Links

Besides directory submission & profile listing websites, there are other ways to obtain quality links e.g. if you are running a local business or if you are a nationwide business with local branches you can use a local link strategy to gather inbound links for your website. You can ask the local categories below to link back to your website in exchange of offers or discounts on your products or services:

  • Local Newspaper

  • Local University or College

  • Local Council Website

  • Local Sports Centre

  • Local Businesses

  • Local Charities

  • Local Business Directories

Editorial links from genuine websites (that don’t sell links and where the link is placed naturally) are the most useful and effective links. They are hard to get but well worth the effort. One editorial link can be far more beneficial than any other type of link.



12 Link Building Benefits

Link building is the process of getting inbound links for your website to improve its authority and search engine rankings on SERP’s. Here are some of the major benefits of the link building approach:

1. Attract web traffic from other websites that are back linking to your website.
2. Link building helps to improve your website keywords search rankings.
3. Helps to improve your website domain authority.
4. Helps to improve your website page authority.
5. Gaining links from trustworthy domains can help to improve conversion rate.
6. Link building plays a great role in influence marketing.
7. Improve lead generation and sales for your business’s website.
8. Genuine link building gives you the edge over your rival businesses.
9. Link building makes your website indexing process faster on search engines.
10. Link building improves your website credibility and reputation online.
11. Link building improves business networking.
12. Improves your brand’s online visibility.



10 Popular Link Building FAQs

What is link building?

Link building is the process of gaining inbound links (also known as back-links) from other websites pointing to your business website.

Is link building still relevant?

Link building is an important signal used by search engines. Link building is still very much alive, though it has changed dramatically over the years. Search engines have updated their algorithms to better understand the quality of links. Natural links from good quality websites carry more weight than low quality spam links.

Can I do in-house link building?

Yes, link building can be done by you in-house. All you need is the time and knowledge to make sure you are not pursuing any black hat SEO practises. Link building is done in several ways as explained in the link building strategies section of this article above. You should learn and understand the method first before you start building links for your business website.

What is the difference between nofollow and dofollow links?

“Dofollow” and “nofollow” are the values assigned to the rel attribute that tells search engines whether the link is important or of no use. Value rel=”nofollow” doesn’t influence the rankings whereas rel=”dofollow” has a positive impact on rankings.


“Dofollow” links are beneficial links that pass authority to your website and help to improve your website rankings on Google, whereas “nofollow” links are not counted and do not pass any authority to your website.  


All of our inbound links are footer links; should we change our strategy?

Search engines give priority to body content links over side bar or footer links. Mostly web design companies or marketing agencies place their link in the footer section of their clients’ websites. Where possible, you should try to gain links from the body content instead of the side bar or footer section.

Do all search engines value links or just Google?

Most search engines use links to determine a website’s value and to prioritise websites in their search results. Google is the most used search engine which is why we only keep the focus on the Google search engine when we talk about link building. Also, the Google PageRank algorithm was once very popular amongst businesses and marketing professionals. Google still uses the PR algorithm internally but it stopped displaying PR to websites externally since 2016.

Should I use anchor text in the links?

Yes. Anchor text is clickable text used in the link. Anchor text can be your target keywords that you promote on any particular page of your website. Use different anchor text because using the same anchor text over and over again can make the links look spammy.

Is there any harm in obtaining all of the links at once?

Yes, building a high volume of links in a short time span can make your website look suspicious to Google and it could face a penalty. Link building should be done in moderation, spread over time and the focus should remain on quality, not quantity.


Why is link building necessary?

Link building is necessary for your business website to keep it ahead of its online competitors, and to improve your website’s online reputation, domain authority, online visibility and especially website keyword rankings on search engines too.


Does Google penalise your website for buying or selling links?

Be in no doubt that Google algorithms will detect any sort of link selling or buying activity and penalise your website with severe penalties or drop your website from its search results. Only natural link building is acceptable by Google and links should be gathered as per Google quality guidelines using white hat link building methodologies. 

Our Advice

Link building is certainly important for any business if you have an online presence but do not indulge in black hat link building methodologies for quick results. Link building can greatly help your business to gain top rankings and improve its reputation online if it is done in moderation and as per Google quality guidelines to acquire links naturally.

What is Link Building?
Why is Link Building Required?
10 Popular Link Building Strategies
Nofollow vs Dofollow Back Links
7 Popular Link Building Metrics
25 Mistakes Link Building
30 Link Building Tools
25 Link Building Tips and Tricks
150+ Link Building Directory & Profile Listing Websites
Local Valuable Links
12 Link Building Benefits
10 Link Building FAQs
Our Advice
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