In building your SEO strategy, the off-site part weighs heavily in the balance. Google has always given great importance to backlinks which it determines as the main criteria for judging a website’s notoriety or popularity. What you need to remember is that netlinking is devilishly efficient for strengthening your natural referencing strategy! Focus on the various netlinking strategies and link types to be aware of and to use, in moderation of course.
From the beginnings of the internet, links in the first meaning of the word have always been important. By definition, the web offers an interconnection of various networks, logically linked between them by – links! It is through this that visitors and robots understand the logical liaisons between several contents and can navigate between different articles, pages and websites in complete autonomy.
In the real world, the notoriety of a brand in relation to word of mouth and on the web the quality of the netlinking is one of the main indicators.
Before getting to grips with the issue itself, it is important to understand the use of a netlinking strategy for your website and its benefits in terms of SEO. Netlinking consists in obtaining and/or creating links to other websites to strengthen the authority of a target website.
The Google pathway for defining the classification of website rests on one simple observation: if a strong authority website is talking about you, your website gains credibility and also merits more authority. By obtaining external links, your website benefits from ‘SEO juice’ and your popularity will be measured according to this criteria.
Developing your netlinking brings several benefits which stem from each other:
- greater credibility according to Google;
- an improvement in your website’s positioning on the SERP;
- greater and qualified organic traffic;
- a gain in notoriety for your brand;
- a growth in your turnover!
Google recommendations are clear and precise on the subject of netlinking: “The classification of a website in Google search results is partly based on the analysis of websites which include links to its pages. The quantity, quality and relevance of the links influence the classification. Websites offering links to the pages in question can supply information on the purpose of your website and can indicate its quality and its popularity.”
These two link types are used to dictate to bots the way to go when they are crawling a website and detect links. On the one hand, the DoFollow is a way of indicating to the bots “Follow this link and take it into account” and on the other hand, the NoFollow invites Google to ignore the link in spite of its existence and not to pay any attention to it at SEO level. Generally, when we talk about backlinks, they are DoFollow because we want them to be taken into account and add some value to our referencing. Logical.
HTML code level, here are the two types of link attributes:
- DoFollow: <a href=”https://semji.com/fr/blog”>Blog de Semji</a> ou <a href=”https://semji.com/fr/blog” rel=”dofollow”>Blog de Semji</a>
- NoFollow: <a href=”https://semji.com/fr/blog” rel=”nofollow”>Blog de Semji</a>
In the context of your netlinking strategy, you must ensure that you links are “DoFollow” if you wish to take advantage of their juice. If some links pointing to your website are negatively impacting your SEO, particularly through a lack of coherence with your theme, it is necessary to intervene. There are two solutions open to you:
- reject the links you don’t have control over via the Search Console;
- transition of links into NoFollow if you have access to the code.
When designing your netlinking strategy, the question of the ratio of NoFollow and DoFollow links must be asked. To make a situational analysis of the link types of your netlinking, you an use Ahrefs, Majestic or SEMrush, among others.
It’s the same in your search for backlinks partners: make sure the websites targeted also follow a good DoFollow links policy. If not, look elsewhere!
The idea that it’s relevant to make sure you comply with a certain percentage of NoFollow anchors to make your link profile legitimate is widely prevalent in the world of SEO. But at Semji, frankly, we don’t believe it much! Only 2% of the websites worldwide contain natural NoFollow links. NoFollow transmits a tiny amount of juice: it’s open to discussion!
First and foremost, it is important to know that there are good and bad backlinks and also different techniques for acquiring links, more or less laudable by the way.
Among all the netlinking methods, natural backlinks remain the most appreciated by Google and therefore the most efficient and also the cheapest! A natural backlink is obtained naturally (as its name implies) when a website, blog or web user decides to talk to you because he or it appreciates your content, your services or your products. This type of link has no cost commitment (financial, return link, sending of a product etc.). Backlinks obtained naturally are moreover the only ones authorised, as specified very clearly by Google in its support for “Link Systems”. The firm Mountain View warns: any technique aimed at creating artificial links shall be severely punished.
To define the quality of a backlink, several criteria have to be taken into account:
- the provenance of the backlink, which determines its power: semantic and thematic coherence, notoriety, authority, ranking etc.
- the link’s anchor and the words surrounding it: the anchoring text must contain some strategic keywords, without falling into over-optimisation and the words before and after the anchor must ideally be semantically close to the anchoring text;
- the placement in the hierarchy and content: is the link located on a page close to the home page? Above the flotation line?
Keep in mind that by benefiting from natural backlinks, you can’t intervene on these different criteria!
The calculation of the ideal ratio in an anchoring text is a very important component of your SEO strategy, although it’s often overlooked. By complying with the correct ratio of anchors in your netlinking strategy, you first avoid suffering a penalty and you can also easily glean some precious SERP positions, so why do without?
Here are our recommendations:
- 3% MAXIMUM of the total number of links must include anchors optimised on your business’s strategic keywords;
- 5% MAXIMUM of the number of anchors designed with a view to long tail;
- The rest of the anchors, ie 92% of the rest of the backlinks, is to be shared between plain URLs and URL variations, the brand name and various slightly optimised anchors like “Click here”, “Visit our website”, “Find out more” etc.
By optimised anchors, we mean anchoring texts on which everyone tries to position themselves, particularly via Adwords.
To develop a solid, powerful anchoring strategy, pay minute attention to those of your competitors targeting all the websites present on the first page on your main keyword. Then, analyse the anchoring texts of the different pages which emerge via Majestic, for example, take an average for each anchor category and that will give you a clue to the temperature of the SERP regarding the percentage of anchors to set up.
When we talk about netlinking, most of the time we are talking about external links, therefore backlinks, which are pointing to the website in question. However, taking account of internal netlinking is also important. Also called internal linking, internal netlinking allows robots to browse your various content and to understand its logical and semantic links.
Although backlinks represent superb opportunities for your referencing, they are nonetheless in Google’s firing line! And for a reason: referencers abuse them a lot. So be careful, because a strategic error, a bad partner, a sudden acquisition of links or an over-optimisation of anchors could be damaging to you.
Since 2012, the Penguin algorhythm has not been cutting any slack. Many websites have seen themselves penalised because they had many backlinks, certainly, but of poor quality! This filter takes into account several criteria to determine whether a website is practicing an “acceptable” netlinking strategy according to Google:
- link anchors
- the authority of the referring domains
- the website’s theme and pages
- the frequency at which a website obtains new links
- the ratio between NoFollow and DoFollow links
- the spread of Top Level Domains
- Sitewide links present in the header, footer, sidebar etc.
To build a powerful netlinking strategy, you can (and should) use several methods. The goal is to find a correct balance and to remain natural in order not to attract the wrath of the Penguin algorhythm, while building a solid and varied link profile as quickly as possible.
Guest Blogging: boosting your SEO thanks to bloggers’ notoriety
Guest Blogging, also called the sharing of invited articles, can appear extremely profitable in terms of SEO as long as your website also presents an interest for the guest in question. This technique consists of building partnerships with influential bloggers on themes close or complementary to your own. The idea is to identify an influencer and to invite him or her to draft content which will be published on your website under his or her own name, then to do the same on their website. This partnership really should be win-win.
Are you frequently contacted for Guest Blogging? Bravo: these invitations show you’re a reference in your sector and that you’re therefore in a position to negotiate the terms of the partnership.
Outside reciprocal links, it’s also possible to base Guest Blogging on the exchange of goods. It’s not suitable for all businesses, of course, but this kind of reward can apply to many domains, with a little imagination! For example, it is possible to offer products free-of-charge (cosmetics, foodstuffs, transport etc.) or services (meal in a restaurant, night in a hotel, massage at a spa, sightseeing tour, attraction etc.) in exchange for a review on an influencer’s blog.
If your selection of partners is insightful and coherent, your website will attract new qualified visitors and your content will benefit from a better resonance on social networks!
Tedious to set up and to maintain, but appears very profitable in the long term: the development of press contacts and linkbaiting are excellent ways of obtaining natural backlinks. The strategy lies on the production of quality, original and unique content.
If you wish to develop your press contacts, be aware that it’s a long-term job which will get you some very high-quality links, but generally low in quantity. You have no control over the recurrence of links or anchors or targeting, but your links are 100% natural!
- Links correctly acquired
- Quality semantic content
- Difficult recurrence
- No/little targeting possible
- Time spent vs number of links obtained
There are two solutions open to you for linkbaiting:
- The first consists of carrying out self-promotion and publishing content over your own channels in the hope of being naturally taken up. And that can take a very long time…
- Second solution: contact the media directly in the hope of being passed on for free. Media websites offer excellent statistics and have a high value in Google’s eyes, as well as draining a large amount of traffic. In addition, the high cost of articles sponsored on this type of website make this same strategy difficult to realise in the case where all the links have to be bought.
By offering content to influencers, you get the same benefits with a better targeted audience as a bonus! The advantage of linkbaiting is that the “snowball” effect can be very quick and links are very diversified as well as being hyper natural.
- Potentially very effective
- Forbidden by Google
- Difficult to get good quality
According to your business sector, this method is more or less appropriate. In some cases, the theme can easily be suited to “buzzwords”. You have therefore to be able to offer content regularly in order to maintain popularity. Another method, which remains the most qualitative: produce premium content which is going to position itself on strategic keywords over a long term. The challenge is to impose yourself as being a reference in your sector with the aim of regularly obtaining quality links. Being located in a niche or being a player in a sector in full growth can clearly make the task easier for you.
In all cases, the production of ultra-quality content marketing is an essential condition if you wish to make your strategy grow!
Long and tedious, but free and totally controllable, crafting links appears to be very effective too.
To develop your link building, you can launch a search by criteria basing ourself on the notion of Footprint. By using a selection of Footprints, you can very easily identify interesting platforms, forums, press release websites and thematic blogs. Once the search work has been carried out, you just have to go and leave some little links here and there… These links are easy to obtain and free, but their SEO impact remains relatively low.
For an efficient search using Footprints, you must absolutely control the subtleties of Google searching with Boolean operators.
Example of a Footprint:
- inurl: forum entitled: DIY website: fr
- intext: powered by WordPress intext: leave a comment
- Easy to obtain
- Positioning at the bottom of the article
- Website number in NoFollow
- Good idea, already overused
- Harder and harder to find
Another solution: staying on the lookout for the various mentions made of your website is an excellent way of acquiring new backlinks! Use the Ahrefs and Mentions tools of simply Google Alerts to monitor what is being said about you and where. As soon as you identify a website which has cited you as a source, which has picked up one of your contents, a picture, an info-graphic, in a nutshell any element which legitimises the presence of a link: contact this website’s webmaster and ask him to create your backlink! Picture-searching on Google also seems very effective for indexing websites and blogs. You can moreover take advantage of this opportunity to gently suggest some idea for anchors which would work out well for you!
Last tip: exploit the potential of 404 pages! Identify all the pages which benefit from backlinks and no longer exist. Then, two solutions:
- set up 301 redirections,
- contact the websites in question, suggesting to them the URL of another page close by to which you are going to redirect the juice.
The purchasing of sponsored articles is designed more for introducing your brand than aggressive, rapid and effective promotion, but this technique can be expensive, even very expensive… Count between 100€ and 3,000€ for a backlink to a high authority website! Even so, if your website is recent, this technique isn’t appropriate. But if you have the budget, here are the solutions available to you:
- buy a sponsored article directly: you contact the website(s) which interest you directly and you negotiate your conditions;
- buy a sponsored article via specialist platforms like Rocketlink, Getfluence or Reech, among others: you have to comply with the prices announced by the platform.
In all cases, always find out about the conditions upstream: the number of links possible in articles, number of words, drafting dealt with internally or not etc. Although the content is paid-for, there are often a certain number of rules to comply with (editorial line, tone, form etc.).
Be careful, however, not to rush into a website which generates a lot of traffic. If the traffic is not qualified, you will certainly benefit from a new backlink, but probably no new visitors to your website and even fewer conversions!
Although it’s expensive, this method allows you to obtain visibility on a website with high notoriety which would not otherwise have been accessible. Be realistic: most of the big influential webzines no longer relay content free-of-charge, even if it’s original, unique, relevant and relating to the theme… Business is business.
- Potentially very effective
- Forbidden by Google
- Difficult to get good quality
If your website has good statistics (Trust Flow, Citation Flow etc.), think about offering link exchanges! That will allow you to save money and to feed your blog with new content: it’s win-win! Be careful though not to use this reciprocity technique willy-nilly because Google’s not stupid…
Build a blog network from expired domain names
This tactic requires a certain amount of investment at the beginning, but once set up, it will allow you to clearly establish your netlinking and to totally control your links’ anchors and the words and expressions surrounding your anchors, as well as the frequency of acquiring new backlinks.
A Private Blog Network (PBN) is a blog ecosystem going from 20 to 300 websites set up using expired domain names. By buying back the names of strategic domains, you can thus benefit from their notoriety… and from all the backlinks acquired by the old websites in the past! The aim of this technique is to redirect a maximum number of links to your target website, also called the Money Site, to give it the best visibility possible.
Although a PBN is very effective, it needs to be handled with caution. Your various satellite websites mustn’t be used only to make backlinks to your website; they require a regular feed of content and must be examined with caution on many aspects:
- choice of keyword families,
- choice of target pages,
- anchor spread,
- quality and themes of domain names,
- choice of Ips and hosting companies,
- construction of the PBN to be spread out over the medium/long term etc.
This technique is rather designed for people who have solid SEO knowledge to guarantee the effectiveness and continuity of the PBN. Uncontrolled, your website network can very rapidly produce the opposite effect to the one expected. It is also possible to be supported by SEO experts to better control this tactic.
- Control of anchors, choice of destination pages
- Dedicated juice
- Control of all risks possible
- Enhancement over time
- A huge number of strategies possible
- Many technical prerequisites to be complied with
- Infrastructure management
- Its “home-made” cost
- Decisive, demanding strategy
“Automotive” website sector with around 50 pages, netlinking launched in October 2016:
Development of a keyword position:
You now know the various netlinking methods available to you: Let’s have a look now at the right habits to have for building a quality link profile which applies to each technique described above:
- ONLY turn to relevant, coherent websites for your business in order to strengthen your website’s semantic relevance. Irrelevant backlinks are at best useless and at worse detrimental for your SEO.
- Systematically analyse the Trust Flow and Citation Flow, thanks to Majestic and Spam Score with Moz before planning link acquisition. These tools give precious pointers, but the results are best looked at in hindsight. It’s the same for the buying back of expired domain names: it’s indispensable to check that damaging SEO errors or action weren’t made in the past.
- Standard directories and link farms are to be avoided: these mass link acquisition techniques used to work before, but not now! Some good quality directories (Trust Flow with 20 minimum and Citation Flow with 30 minimum) can welcome your links, but don’t abuse them!
- Whatever happens, keep a good ratio between optimised and non-optimised anchors.
- Prefer complex link exchange diagrams to reciprocal or triangular links as far as possible, for a better exploitation of SEO juice by everyone.
As often (always?), preferring quality to quantity remains the best advice to apply! A poor backlink can be more damaging than useful for your referencing and reduce all your SEO optimisation effort to nothing!
You’ve well understood through this article: netlinking is an art! There are several netlinking methods and techniques available to you: linkbaiting, press contacts, Guest Blogging, PBN, ninja linking, paid linking etc., the goal being to work towards a correct balance of these various techniques. But no matter what direction your choice goes in: show great precaution if you’re doing it yourself and get yourself the right service provider if you outsource this project.
However, netlinking is vital and even indispensable for SEO: it would be a pity to miss out on it!
A real strategic pillar of SEO, good netlinking allows you to considerably improve a website’s SERP position, therefore its traffic and its sales! Do you want to delegate the designing of your netlinking strategy? Our SEO agency can develop your netlinking strategy for you. Contact us!