Project #55769 - Exploring Building Quality Links

Week 5 Lecture 2: How to Build Quality Links

In Step 4: Landing the links, you learned how to attract links to your site by using article directories. The more quality inbound links you have to your site, the higher it will be ranked in search engine results.

The follow article provides useful tip on how to build quality links.

10 Rules of Quality Link Building (Links to an external site.)

1. Not All Links are Created Equal

Links are links, right? Wrong. Every inbound link you have coming to your site has a different level of trust and respect from Google. Not only is Google analyzing your site, and indexing it for keyword phrases, but it’s doing the same thing for all the sites that link to you. When doing so, if Google finds that a site that links to you is reputable, then the link is valued more highly. If the link is from a low quality, or spammy source, then the link will be devalued, or carry now weight (juice) at all. If Google wants to know if your content is any good, it will listen more closely to sites that it trusts.

2. It’s About the Juice

Links that bring a lot of value to your site, pass, what we call in the industry, link juice. They carry more of the life bringing sustenance than other. The search engine nectar, necessary for high rankings. You will hear the phrase often in the SEO world, and it’s worth taking note, because 5,000 links that don’t pass any juice are pretty much meaningless. Your site needs links from ‘juicy’ sources, that will get Google’s attention and scream, “We are legit…look this reputable source says so by linking to us!”

3. Relevancy Matters

So, let’s say you run a site that sells mobile phones. You’re starting to get a lot of links, and many of them are well respected links by Google. However, a deeper look at the links and you find that you’re getting links from sites that have nothing to do with cell phones. You’ve got a bunch from your mothers blog about her puppies, some additional links from a local baseball team that you are sponsoring. Additionally, you’ve participated in online forums that discuss politics and have included links to your site.

The problem?

Well, for one, the inbound links have nothing to do with cell phones, the mobile phone industry, repairing or replacing phones, exchanging batteries or anything related to the business. You’ve now obtained a gaggle of links that in no way tell Google that you are a mobile phone expert. However, is someone does search the phrase, “Using my cell phone at a baseball game, watching puppies debate health care” then you just might show up. If they are searching cell phone, you haven’t got a prayer, because your inbound links need to be from sites that are related to the cell phone industry.

Remember, Google is analyzing all the sites you’re getting links from, and if they see that your mother’s blog is mostly about puppies, then links from that site will send you puppy-like link juice. Not the flavor you’re looking for. Site relevancy is crucial to links passing the appropriate juice to you. Without paying attention to it, and focusing on obtaining links that really matter, you’re wasting your time, or marketing for a much different demographic than you realize. Although I’m sure puppies love chatting about politics, they probably just don’t do a lot of searching online.

4. Keywords in the Link

The text that is click-able in a hyperlink is also an important factor in determining the the links relevancy and value. If the keywords reflect the actual products or services your site offers, than it is much more likely to be relevant, and not spam.


However, you want to be careful to not overuse or manipulate this principle, as Google will start to get suspicious if all the links coming to your site include the exact same keyword phrase. A more natural approach is better for the long run, and makes for better copy for the visitors.

A great example to follow is Wikipedia. The included links are done naturally and include a diverse selection of phrases that have to do with the topic. A technique that is easily duplicated, simply don’t try too hard after a specific work, instead use several phrases that have to do with the topic, as you normally would. Create the link for users not search engines, and you’ll find the links look and feel better on the page. Google will then reward you for the links, rather than red-flag your efforts as manipulative.



- Using ‘Click Here’ text in the hyperlink
- Over using exact targeted phrases
- Over using hyperlinks on a page
- Hyperlinking to irrelevant pages
- Over hyperlinking to the same page, from the same page

5. Diversity is Key

If you get hundreds of links coming from the same exact site it really starts to do you little good. Imagine Google’s robots saying, “Okay, we get it! This site about purple ponies really likes you, enough already!” You would be better served trying to get links from a variety of domains.

Seasoned SEO’s understand this and will track how many unique domains are linking to a site- that’s what we do at Gravitate Online. It takes more work to obtain links from a variety of sources, but it really pays off. Google starts to see that you are getting ‘votes’ from a broad base of sites that like your content and this shows a truer sense of your site’s value.


Reputable SEO specific data sources, such as Majestic SEO and SEOmoz understand the value of domain specific links. Their tools explicitly call out these links, identifying them as ‘Linking Domains’ or ‘Referring Domains’. Different terms, but the meaning is the same- links coming from a unique domain. The more diverse these sources (remembering that they should still be relevant) the better the link building campaign will be.

6. Avoid the Spammy Mermaids 

After learning the importance of inbound links, many new SEOs are tempted to follow the all-too-familiar sirens call of inundating a site with spam links. They believe the massive flood of newly found links, albeit cheap and easy, will push a site up in the rankings. The problem is, sometimes they are right. Google is getting better at vetting out links that offer little or no value, but they are far from perfect. Often times temporary ranking improvements are seen pretty quickly, validating in the minds of the novice SEO that the quantity of low quality links will get them what they want- long term rankings for difficult phrases.


The problem is, Google is filled with more PhD employees than any other company in the world (per capita). A large selection of these very smart computer scientists are dedicated to eradicating any juice being passed from spammy inbound links. They are working hard to identify sites that 1) are ranking high for competitive phrases, 2) analyzing their inbound links and 3) removing sites that have not legitimately earned high rankings from SERPs. In the long run, this collection of spam fighters are going to hit you hard- and the result will be really bad rankings for the foreseeable future. At Gravitate Online we have a phrase that applies here, “Playing Russian Roulette against the smartest people on the planet”. When they find you, they will blow your site’s brains out and your rankings will die an ignominious death.

A little dramatic? Perhaps. Do we witness it all the time? Absolutely.

What is link spam? Any use of a deceptive scheme intended to boost your site’s page rank artificially.

Types of links may include, but are not limited to:

Link farms (Links to an external site.)
Hidden links (Links to an external site.)
Sybil attack (Links to an external site.)
- Hyperlinking to irrelevant pages (see #3: Relevancy Matters)
- Use of link building software
Spam blogs (Sblog) (Links to an external site.)
Cookie stuffing (Links to an external site.)
Page hijacking (Links to an external site.)

Beware of these techniques or anything resembling them!

7. Page/Domain Authority

Within the SEO industry an indicator of site reputation has emerged as the de facto standard for analyzing the value a site has in the eyes of search engines. SEOmoz introduced Page Authority and Domain Authority. Let’s take a quick look at each directly from SEOmoz’s site:

“How is Page Authority Scored?
We score Page Authority on a 100-point, logarithmic scale. Thus, it’s easier to grow your score from 20 to 30 than it would be to grow from 70 to 80. We constantly update the algorithm used to calculate Page Authority, so you may see your score fluxuate from time to time. Page Authority is SEOmoz’s calculated metric for how well a given webpage  is likely to rank in’s search results.

Page Authority vs. Domain Authority
Whereas Page Authority measures the predictive ranking strength of a single page, Domain Authority measures the strength of entire domains or subdomains. Domain Authority is SEOmoz’s calculated metric for how well a given domain is likely to rank in’s search results.


Understanding these site quality indicators is valuable when finding good link sources. When searching for sites to request links from, one of the first things an SEO will look at is the Page and Domain Authority scores. These can be found on the browser MozBar (SEOmoz’s free toolbar) and the Open Site Explorer tool. Also, SEOmoz’s API is used in dozens of other SEO tools, making it a very accessible score to see and utilize. Requesting links from sites that have a healthy Page and Domain Authority will bring a lot of weight to the link when it’s obtained. Making for more effective and efficient link building.

8. Play Hard to Get

Just like the girls in high schools, going after the sites that will link with anyone isn’t always the best idea. Google understands that some sites will add links to anybody and everybody. These sites do not carry nearly the weight of those that play harder to get. Sites that are well respected in their industry generally will be more judicious and selective with their links. They link only to sites that have a good reputation, offer quality services and useful content.


In the Google’s Webmaster Guidelines the recommendation is given to keep external links to a minimum. Matt Cutts (Head of Google’s Search Spam team) recommends keeping the 
external links to a maximum of 100 (Links to an external site.). This may seem like a lot of links, but for a large site 100 links on a homepage may require some serious trimming. For example, CNN usuallycontains 250-350 (Links to an external site.) links on it’s homepage. If you’re not CNN (and benefit from many other inherent SEO advantages), you will do well to listen to Matt’s advice and keep your page’s external links down.

When link building, you will want to pursue links from sites that are not linking to everyone with a letterman’s jacket. If you get a new link, but it’s 1 of 500 other links crammed into a footer- chances are you’re not going to get a lot of juice passed from that page. Google sees your link, but all the others as well. When looking for really high quality link sources pay more attention to the smart and classy prude. Google will love you for it.

9. Follows and No Follows

As the value of links has become more obvious to SEO’s and webmasters, the internet has become increasingly cluttered with links that add no value and are simply added to influence rankings. To combat this, the Google Anti-Spam team started eliminating any ‘juice’ value for hyperlinks that included the rel= no follow attribute. Started in 2

005 to combat the spammy links that plagued blog comments, the attribute allows site owners to set specific outbound links to be clickable, but just not followed and counted by search engine robots.  They are still seen, just not included in the ranking algorithm. Sites that want to deter poor links will utilize the rel= no follow attribute extensively throughout their site. Wikipedia is a prime example of this. Although they have gotten better at quickly editing entries, anyone can still submit content under almost any topic. The site would be a link spamming playground if not for the ability that Wikipedia has to make all outbound links mean nothing to search engines. When spammers try to add links, even before they are edited out of an entry the link will pass no ranking value to Google. Search result quality is controlled and Wikipedia avoids become a cesspool of spam.


When link building, you want to be acutely aware of a site’s inclination for allowing external ‘follow’ links. One of the tools we use is SEOmoz’s free toolbar (Links to an external site.). It includes a feature that will highlight all the links on a given page and color code it green for a follow link andpink for a no follow link.  A quick look at the color cordinated links and an SEO can see if the site is likely to allow followed links. Links from these sites may be worth pursuing.  If the site is filled with no-followed links, you may waist a lot of time pursuing a link that will never help out your rankings.

10. Track the Competition

One thing must be clear, SEO is not the process of checking some items off a task list then sitting back and watching your site climb up the rankings. It is a competition. You are competing against the 10 other sites on the first page.  Not only do you have to worry about those already on the first page, but you better believe their are 4-5 other upstarts that are rapidly climbing their way from page 10 with their eyes on the first page. You need more and higher quality ‘votes’ than the established first pagers and fight off the new emerging competitors. You are aiming at a moving target to be sure, one that is shifting right before your eyes each and every month, adding excitement and urgency to your link building campaign. If you are not monitoring a few of these competitors you may easily find yourself buried in the middle of page 2.

To get the most out of  your competitors you will want to:

Identify the best link building campaigns of your competitors. A free and easy tool for identifying your competitors is (Links to an external site.). After creating a free account, you simply type up to 10 phrases that you are going after. The tool will then identify the top rankers for all these phrases and generate a list in order of total rankings for all phrases combined. The list is a valuable tool for quickly finding who is ranking for a collection of phrases. It also shows the number of inbound links, per Yahoo’s index. Looking into the top few rankers will usually give you a good idea of who has a robust link building campaign.


Learn from analyzing their links. Once you’ve identified your competitors, you’ll want to analyze their links and see what they are doing to build links. Many tools help with this analysis phase, but we like to look through two entirely different data sources: MajesticSEO and SEOmoz link data. Each of these services stores it’s own index of the internet and counts and ranks links. Looking at both of the their data and comparing it gives a more complete view of a competitors link building campaign. It’s like getting a second opinion on a site’s link landscape. The data from both gives us a good idea of the types of links a competitor is going after.

Monitor their link growth and quality sources. Once we’ve completed our analysis of a competitors link campaign, we will then track the total number of links coming in for that site. When we see major changes, we’ll take another look to see if they’ve made some serious changes and adjusted their approach to links. Perhaps they’ve found something else that works. Maybe they’ve found a specific source that is accepting their content and pushing a lot of ‘juice’ their way. These are some of the ways we will monitor and further analyze what they are doing.

Keeping your finger to the wind and watching what your competitors are doing will go a long  ways in making your link building campaign more intelligent and efficient.

In Step 4: Landing the links and Week 5 Lecture 2: How to Build Quality Links, you read about how to attract quality links to your site.

In this activity, you will explore how to build quality links in more depth. Complete the following steps:   

Review the 10 rules in lecture 5.2, then select the two rules you believe are the most important for building quality links. 

Describe why you think these two rules are so valuable (a minimum of 300 words). Justify your choices using what you have learned from this week's readings (and any further information you wish to gather from the Internet).

Subject Business
Due By (Pacific Time) 02/15/2015 08:00 pm
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