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SEOlutions Guide: Link Building Guide 2019

How to get the most out of your Links!

Hey guys, we are back with a installment of our newly launched web-series. This time we will cover the basics of a well-structured link building campaign and what you have to keep in mind when trying to rank for those juicy keywords of yours.

Essentially, we are going to tell you how we structure our initial link building projects and how you can get the most out of any backlinks service by being mindful of a few key aspects that are absolutely crucial for (long-term) ranking.

So, get ready for some knowledge.

Google got smart!

Majority of novice webmasters will think of backlinks as a quantitative factor, i.e. “the more the merrier“. As a result they will buy backlinks services that advertise a huge amount of backlinks for a comparably small price: “500.000 backlinks for $100? Count me in!“.

Back in the day this approach worked well. The internet was fairly new and search engine algorithms were rather simple and not as complex as they are today. You were able to rank any static website by sending 10000s of blog comments, forum profiles, bookmarks and guestbook entries to your website, using your main keyword as the anchor, and you would end up at the top of the search results for months to come. Anyone remember Pliggs? Good times…

Since then a lot of things have changed and search engines have become smarter and more efficient at identifying unnatural links.

Google & Co have made significant improvements to their search algorithms and rolled out several updates (Panda, Penguin et. al.) that changed the SEO ruleset in major ways. Of course, certain metrics from the age past remain important, if not more so. Things like age, domain authority, quality of content, indexed pages, social proof and on-page optimization. As a result a lot of SEOs had to change their link building approach and find new, more effective link building methods.

Note: we are not saying that spam does not work anymore – if done right, it still works. But it is not a long-term, sustainable approach and will only result in temporary rankings. If the ‘churn & burn’ approach is what you are after, then by all means go nuts with it.

Here at SEOlutions however, we prefer long-term and sustainable rankings that are able to deliver a stable income stream for a long time to come. We will thus be covering this approach which we use for our own sites to achieve stable high rankings without needlessly spamming our sites with masses of low-quality backlinks.

Before we dive into the type of links we use, let’s give you a quick primer on tiering links.

Tiered Link Building

What is it?

The fundamental idea of tiered link building is to create several layers of backlinks with each layer pointing at the layer above it until finally you reach the first layer (tier 1) which points directly at your site.

  • Tier 1: Pointing directly at your website.
  • Tier 2: Pointing to your tier 1 links.
  • Tier 3: Pointing to your tier 2 links

The drive to find more effective link building methods in the wake of the search engines’ refinement of their rulesets resulted in many experimenting with tiered link building to great success.

This concept is very easily grasped by comparing it to the structure of a pyramid. Each level of the pyramid is one of the backlinks layers, with the best backlinks culminating at the top of the pyramid (tier 1). Subsequently, the links at the top of the pyramid point directly at your site.

The middle level of the pyramid (tier 2) is comprised of your secondary links. The preferred choice here would be highly contextual links (with niche-related content) and social signals (optional). The second tier is there to support your first tier. It helps with the indexation of your tier 1 links and passes additional link juice through tier 1, making those backlinks even stronger.

At the bottom of the pyramid (tier 3) you have the ‘spammy’ links, which point at the links in tier 2. These are backlinks that you can automate or buy in very high quantities. You should not use these links directly on your site, unless temporary rankings are your thing. Spammy backlinks are great to use in tier 3 due to the extremely high quantities which they are available in and for a relatively cheap price. You can of course go down another tier or two, but we typically get the best results from a 3-tiered approach.

Sounds pretty logical, right?

By tiering your links this way, you improve the trust, authority and the resulting value of the top tiers. This makes the links at the very top tier (tier 1) much stronger and effective. As a result, your site will benefit from the high quality backlinks in tier 1 much more than it would have without the additional supporting tiers. With this approach, you are able to eventually dominate even highly competitive niches for a long time to come, with fewer hiccups and fluctuations of your rankings.

Finally, this approach allows you to even incorporate ‘spammy’ links (in lower tiers) without putting your site at risk. You see, there really are no ‘bad’ backlinks – just bad strategies. If you properly structure your link building campaigns, you can use any and every link you can find or buy.

What links should I use?

Let us now move on to good link sources for each tier of the pyramid. This will allow you to easily identify which services/backlinks to use for each tier. To make this part straightforward, we will list certain link types/platforms which we have found to work well in their respective tiers and which we frequently use as part of our own link building campaigns.

This is not an all-encompassing list, as there other link types which can be used as well, but the link types listed are the most popular and, as we have found, most effective.

Tier 1 Links

High Performance Links

Absolute powerhouse backlinks.

Basically, they are backlinks from real websites with good age (>1 year), great domain authority (DA), Trust Flow (TF), good content and an outstanding backlinks portfolio. These high performance links are highly sought after and should be one of your main sources of backlinks to target your primary keywords with. Even after the recent Google updates (Penguin et al), these links continue to show incredible ranking results. As part of our services, we track many clients in the high-end and very competitive niches that rely heavily on high performance links (in combination with other link types) and they all rank consistently well month in and month out.

High performance links are usually rented on a monthly basis due to the overwhelmingly high demand for them and very limited availability/supply. But imagine having 100’s of these powerful links pointing directly at your site?

Obviously we would not be able to call ourselves a SEO company if we did not offer our own high performance links service. Our High Performance Solutions service provides hundreds of genuine high performance links from established, authority websites backed up with an effective tier 2 layer at an affordable cost.

Check out our packages below.

High Performance Solutions

High Performance Homepage Links

Rated 5.00 out of 5

High Performance Homepage Links

Choose your desired quantity of links (the more links, the stronger the ranking boost) – the links are rented on a monthly basis (subscription) – but you can cancel anytime

Placed on the hompage of high authority domains in the sidebar, header, footer, etc.

  • High Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), Citation Flow (CF) and Trust Flow (TF)
  • High Traffic Domains – links are also placed on domains which are performing well in the SERPs themselves.
  • Optional: Use beautifully crafted manual Web 2.0s as buffer sites for the high PR links
  • Each link will be placed on a unique and real website with premium TLD (org/net/com)
  • Guaranteed and automatic replacement of lost links with new ones.
  • Monthly report of your top 10 backlinks (along with the login details for your buffer sites, if applicable)

High Performance Solutions

High Performance Links

Rated 4.97 out of 5

High Performance Mixed Links

Choose your desired quantity of links (the more links, the stronger the ranking boost) – the links are rented on a monthly basis (subscription) – but you can cancel anytime

Placed on homepages, inner pages, category pages etc. of high authority domains in the sidebar, header, footer, etc.

  • High Domain Authority (DA), Page Authority (PA), Citation Flow (CF) and Trust Flow (TF)
  • High Traffic Domains – links are also placed on domains which are performing well in the SERPs themselves.
  • Optional: Use beautifully crafted manual Web 2.0s as buffer sites for the high PR links
  • Each link will be placed on a unique and real website with premium TLD (org/net/com)
  • Guaranteed and automatic replacement of lost links with new ones.
  • Monthly report of your top 10 backlinks (along with the login details for your buffer sites, if applicable)

 PBN LINKS

Niche Relevant, contextual and powered by incredible metrics.

A private network (like our PBN S) is a collection of aged websites, with a high performance and high domain authority, that serve solely as a link source to support your main site(s). Setting up a private network is a very time intensive and expensive process. Among many other things, it involves buying a substantial amount of aged high performance domains, posting relevant content on them and inserting a link back to your main site(s).

Due to the costs involved and experience required this tactic is not often used. A decent domain (DA/TF/DR 15+) will go for $50+ on the usual registrar platforms and then there’s hosting, content, videos, and other expenses. On top of that, the investment is very risky as you need a lot of expertise and know-how to keep your network operating under the radar. Quite often we see a lot of amateur networks leaving too many footprints which can be used to easily identify all of the sites in a particular network. As a result, the whole network gets deindexed, causing you to lose your entire investment painfully quickly. In most cases it is better to rely on other link sources discussed in this article.

However, if you have the knowledge and adequate funding, then outsourcing/creating your personal private blog network can be one of the most valuable assets in your SEO arsenal.

Of course, we offer PBN links, too. Check out the packages below.

PBN S – Monthly

This is a monthly subscription. We create a set of posts for you in the first month, after which these posts remain stickied on the homepages of the PBN sites for the duration of your subscription. If you cancel your subscription, your posts will simply roll off the homepage. OBL will be max. 20

  • Niche Relevant – Our network is split into different thematic categories, so all of your PBN posts will come from relevant websites.
  • Beautiful sites – Our PBN sites look like real websites. Each site has a customized theme and looks incredible. These easily pass a manual review.
  • Zero Footprints – Each of our sites is hosted on a unique IP from well-known cloud hosts like Digital Ocean, Vultr, AWS, etc.
  • Maintenance – We care for our network – a LOT. We re-new our domains, we do daily updates and backups. Not a lot of PBN providers can guarantee that – we do!

PBN S – Single

This is a one time payment. The only difference to the subscription is, that your posts won’t be stickied. They will remain on the homepage for a few weeks and then roll off naturally.

  • Niche Relevant – Our network is split into different thematic categories, so all of your PBN posts will come from relevant websites.
  • Beautiful sites – Our PBN sites look like real websites. Each site has a customized theme and looks incredible. These easily pass a manual review.
  • Zero Footprints – Each of our sites is hosted on a unique IP from well-known cloud hosts like Digital Ocean, Vultr, AWS, etc.
  • Maintenance – We care for our network – a LOT. We re-new our domains, we do daily updates and backups. Not a lot of PBN providers can guarantee that – we do!

Guest Posts / Outreach

The creme de la creme.

Essentially, guest posting or outreach means publishing an article on someone else’s website with their approval/consent. It is one of the best link building methods these days.

It involves contacting webmasters (mostly via email) with sites within your niche and asking them to publish an article of yours with a reciprocal link back to your main site. This is great, if you can get a guest post from an aged website that already has traffic to it and a good domain authority / trust flow. This is obviously not as easy as it sounds, as not many webmasters will willingly publish an article linking to one of their competitors. It is nonetheless a really viable way to supplement your tier 1 link building.

It’s always a good idea to let professionals take care of your outreach campaign. But if you want to dabble yourself, we recommend to start with Ninja Outreach and/or Buzzstream – they are easy to learn and quite intuitive.

Having a good content creator and email copy is mandatory, of course.

Guest Post Single

Get a single guest post.

Each guest posts will be catered to your website and be placed on real websites with high domain authority (DA) & real traffic. These are the links that you can gladly show your clients.

  • High Domain Authority (DA Range 10-50+)
  • Real Websites with real traffic
  • Niche Relevant
  • Premium Content
  • White label reports
  • One-Time Payment

Guest Post Subscription

Get a new guest post every month on a different domain.

Each guest posts will be catered to your website and be placed on real websites with high domain authority (DA) & real traffic. These are the links that you can gladly show your clients.

  • High Domain Authority (DA Range 10-50+)
  • Real Websites with real traffic
  • Niche Relevant
  • Premium Content
  • White label reports
  • Monthly Subscription

Premium Web 2.0 Blogs

Cheap, Contextual and Relevant. 

Premium Web 2.0s normally refers to sites (WordPress, Tumblr, Livejournal, Blogger, and many, many more) that allow you to create a blog and submit article(s) that include a link to your website. These links work exceptionally well in your first tier, as a lot of these sites have a very high domain authority, a high page rank, good indexation rate and get a lot of targeted traffic.

One of the best ways to use these sites is to create a small network and treat them as they were your own websites. You can either create these yourself (time-costly process) or look for a service that manually creates these blogs. Automating the creation of blogs on these premium Web 2.0 sites often results in the blogs getting deleted/suspended as these sites have very stringent quality criteria and control checks in place. To further ensure a good stick rate, the blogs should have non-default themes, relevant videos and images, a contact page or details, a privacy policy page, and frequently updated (at least 1x per month) with fresh, unique content. Not only will these things ensure that your blogs do not get deleted, but the links coming from these blogs will be that much more valuable.

If you are just starting in the world of SEO and finances are tight, then focus on getting a lot of these manually-created Web 2.0s and build them out. They are absolutely worth it and will serve as an extremely effective, long-term asset in your SEO toolbox.

You can find a list of good and valuable Web 2.0s all around the web, but here are a few to start:

  • http://blogger.com
  • http://wordpress.com
  • http://weebly.com
  • http://tumblr.com

If you are looking for a service which takes the creation of these Web 2.0s off your hands, you may be interested in our Premium Solutions service. Not only do we manually create blogs on the top 10 of the highest rated Web 2.0 sites, the service also includes contextual tiers 2 and tier 3 layers to significantly beef up these blogs from the start.

Premium Solutions

Premium Solutions – Single

Rated 5.00 out of 5

Premium Solutions – Single

Get a one-off set of 10 manually created and beautifully crafted Web 2.0 blogs. These blogs will then get powered by an array of thousands of contextual tier 2 and tier 3 links.

Each blog will be customized and catered to your niche and website.

  • 10 beautiful web 2.0 blogs
  • Unique Content used on every blog post
  • Niche Relevant
  • Powered by an array of Tier2+Tier3 Links.
  • White label reports
  • One Time Payment
Rated 5.00 out of 5

Premium Solutions – Subscription

Get 10 new and beautifully crafted web 2.0 blogs every month. These blogs will then get powered by an array of thousands of contextual tier 2 and tier 3 links.

  • 10 beautiful web 2.0 blogs every month
  • Unique Content used on every blog post
  • Niche Relevant links
  • Powered by an array of contextualyl tiered links
  • Optional: High Performance Links on the second tier – powerful!
  • White label reports
  • One Time Payment

Citations

Great for branding and local SEO. Building the base!

Citations are basically mentions of your (local) business on authoritative websites & directories, either with or without a branded link. Usually the NAP (Name, Address, Phone) is used to create a proper and full citation. But most of the times, you can include a backlink to your website as well. Having said that, even just the phone number or the URL of your business can be defined as a citation.

Citations are usually used in local SEO campaigns, but they are a great addition for any link building campaign, as they are extremly safe and perfect to diversify your link portfolio.

If you don’t want to build citations yourself, you can check out our Local SEO Package, which will give you a very well rounded package: Local SEO Solutions

Citations / Local SEO

Simple Citations – Single

$ 269.00 / package

Simple Citations – Single

Get 90 awesome citations spread over local business directories, social sites, video sites and image sites.

This is the perfect package to build a base with.

  • 60 Citation in business directories
  • 10 video citations
  • 10 photo citations
  • 10 social citations

Citations / Local SEO

Simple Citations – Monthly

Rated 5.00 out of 5
$ 329.00 / month

Simple Citations – Monthly

Get 90 awesome citations spread over local business directories, social sites, video sites and image sites EVERY MONTH! Powered by a fixed set of 100 mixed high performance links – synergistic link power.

This is the perfect package to build a base with.

  • 60 Citation in business directories 
  • 10 video citations
  • 10 photo citations
  • 10 social citations
  • Tier2: A fixed set of 100 High Performance Links

Editorial Links & Other Sources

The pricey stuff!

There are many other useful link sources that you can use in your first tier, e.g. Infographics, Crowdfunding Links, Editorial Links, Curated Niche Edits etc.

If you are looking for some premium editorial links, shoot as an email to info@seolutions.biz

Most of these will cost you a hefty penny, as they are hard to come by. So we will not go into them in this article for the sake of keeping things concise and interesting for those with a limited budget. But if you let your imagination and creativity flow, you can find a few untargeted and valuable link sources without any problems.

Branded Links

Get your brand out there!

Press Releases are a great link source. Admittedly not as good as they once were, we still love them and use them quite frequently on our sites.

A press release is essentially an announcement/news article about your brand/company. The beauty of press releases is that they are picked up and syndicated (shared) by thousands of various news sites and news agencies, including even the biggest news sites. Not only will this provide you with thousands of backlinks from respected sources, but press releases are great for generating buzz and driving traffic to your site as well. If you can manage to write an excellent article for your PR or are promoting a unique service, you can expect to have your press release picked up by large newswires like PRWeb.com, Google News or even Yahoo News, which all generate a huge amount of targeted traffic on a daily basis.

Tier 2 Links

Solve me a riddle? Welcome to the middle!

The second tier serves as a supporting link layer for the top tier. We rely heavily on contextual links and some social links that we can easily scale here. As a result, the main link sources don’t differ too much from our first tier and, as mentioned above, we always use niche related content on our second tier to maintain thematic relevance.

To keep things simple, here is a comprehensive list of targets/link sources we use in our second tier on a large scale. Although the links are grouped into a handful of categories, for each of the mentioned categories we post to as many different platforms as possible, resulting in an extremely diverse tier 2 layer:

Tier 3 Links

The bottom of the barrel!

In the third, and last, tier we use every contextual link type under the sun that can be automated and used in bigger quantities. The purpose of these links is to get as many of your tier 2 links noticed by the search engines. We usually stick to a very high but cost effective volume of contextual links to include another contextual layer (like tier 2) in tier 3. Then we try to scale it up.

That’s basically it.

Essential Factors for a successful link campaign

Now that you are aware of the available link sources and their best place in a link building campaign, we can dive a bit into the main aspects of any successful link building campaign.

NOTE: besides taking note of the about to be discussed aspects of link building, make sure to pay adequate attention to on-site and on-page elements. You can find a comprehensive guide covering on-site and on-page optimization in our previous installment of this series here (click!)

Without further ado, the crucial off-page elements to a successful link building campaign are:

  • Link Relevancy
  • Anchor Diversity
  • Link Velocity

Link Relevancy

Link relevancy:

We know that it is not always possible to get all of your links from websites that are active in the same niche. The good news is that you don’t always need the website to be in the same niche, as long as you use topic-related and niche-relevant articles for your link(s). As a result, we always use unique articles on many different topics within our niche, targeting various short- and longtail keywords with each new article. By doing this we are able to keep the entire tiered link structure on a relevant theme. 

So, you can basically categorize your links into a few key categories:

  • High Relevancy + High Authority (DA/TF/DR 10+): These are contextual and very relevant tier 1 links on great websites that you should focus on. Examples would be niche relevant PBN Links, niche relevant Guest Posts, Niche Edits, niche relevant Editorial Posts.
  • Low Relevancy + High Authority (DA/TF/DR 10+): These are basically non-contextual but highly authoritative links. They are incredible if you can get them in relatively high quantities. The powerful metrics can counteract the relevancy issues.It’s no surprise that these are one of our best-sellers: High Performance Links 
  • High Relevancy + Low Authority (DA/TF/DR <5): These are mostly newly created buffer sites, like Web 2.0 blogs, niche relevant PBNs on very fresh domains and / or niche relevant low authority guest posts. These are great for creating a base with branded anchors, for buffer sites and, of course, for your tier2 layer.
  • Citations & Branded Links: Basically the perfect start to any link building campaign. Highly branded and very safe!
  • Low Relevancy + Low Authority (DA/TF/DR = 0-3). Usable for Tier3. Examples would be highly automated links (blog comments, social links etc.)

For the top level links, like the PBNs, Guest Posts, Editorials etc., we always use well-written premium content on a topic related to our particular niche. Don’t cheap out here – these are the links that should receive premium treatment to stand the test of time. We wouldn’t recommend to use badly spun content for any of your tier1 or tier2 links – ever.

For the bottom of the barrel (tier 3) we recommend to order some unique articles and spin them with something that makes it somewhat decent, like the turing spinner from WordAI.

Anchor Diversity

A balanced link profile has become more important than ever before. The recent Google updates and algorithmic changes penalized many sites that used more than 50% (sometimes even sites with 30%) of exact match anchors (main keywords) for all of their backlinks.

To avoid anchor over-optimization, you need to be mindful of the anchors/keywords you use for your link building campaigns. Always keep an eye on your site’s anchor ratios to make sure no single (main) keyword is making up too high of a percentage of your site’s anchor base. A great tool for checking anchor ratios is ahrefs.com.

As a general guideline, you should strive for the following anchor text distribution to avoid having your site negatively affected by one of the many Google updates:

  • Your Bread and Butter: Branded Anchors + Partial Exact Match / Branded Anchors + Phrase Match / Branded Anchor / Branded Anchors Only: Lately, branded anchors (and its variations) have become the fundamental way to keep your anchor profile natural. Search engines want to see a real brand, a website that they can trust and that provides value to users/readers. Show them that you are running a real business by heavily relying on brand terms (and its variations) as your main anchor texts. We suggest to use these most of the time and especially when starting a new website. The ratio should probably be around 70% – 75%. Example Anchors: “Where to buy blue widgets” “https://yoursite.com blue widget review” “Yoursite.com article on widget”
  • Exact Match Anchors: The combined percentage of your main exact match anchor texts should not exceed 3% collectively. We suggest to only start with exact match anchors after 3-4 months of careful link building. Example Anchor: “Blue Widget”.
  • Secondary & Longtail Variations of your exact match anchors: These should make up around 5-7% of your ratio. Example Anchor: “Heavy Blue Widget”, “Light Blue Widget”, “Blue Widget Review”
  • Generic Anchors: The principle behind generic keywords is similar to brand keywords. Generic keywords look natural as most people use generic phrases like “click here”, “here” “this link”, “link”, “source” or “website” to link to external websites. As a result, you should include a good chunk of different generic anchor texts in your link building campaigns. Use these around 10-15% of the time.

If you take the guidelines from above into consideration, your anchor profile should resemble the percentages above after some time. If you can only take one thing from this article, this should be it.

Anchor diversity is key!

Link Diversity and Link Velocity

As already mentioned, a diverse, natural link profile is essential to claiming the top spots of the SERPs and staying there, whereas a homogeneous link profile is a red flag to any search engine and will result in a penalty sooner rather than later. Thus keeping your anchor texts and backlinks well-diversified will help your site get through all the Pandas, Penguins (and whatever other animal updates are yet to be released) unscathed.

The key to a natural link profile is using a lot of different link types. By utilizing the various link types discussed in the first segment of this article (for example Guest Posts, Editorials, PBNs, Web 2.0s, Citations, High Performance Links, etc.), you will create a very natural and well-diversified link profile for your site. Your links will come from a huge variety of IPs, CMS, platforms, TLDs, regions and websites.

It can look something like this:

Furthermore, you should always link to your site’s inner pages too. Do not focus solely on your homepage. A good ratio would be 30-40% of the links to your homepage and 50-60% of the links to your inner-pages. As mentioned in our on-site and on-page optimization guide, inner pages can be used to target a lot of different longtails and variations of your primary keywords. Make good use of this!

Finally, you don’t want to build your links too fast or inconsistently. If you use a link audit service like ahrefs.com, the link acquisition graph should show a steady and gradual increase in backlinks over time. A lot of services give you the option of drip feeding your links – make use of that option if you can!

Below is a great example of the type of link velocity you should strive for :

You should now have all the information you need to properly plan and structure your link building campaigns. You know what link types work to rank well and how to keep your site’s off-page portfolio well-diversified and natural.

Now it’s time to go out there and begin your link building campaigns. Keep a careful eye on your anchor ratios, your link velocity and always go down a few tiers to get the most out of every link you buy or create.

If you keep everything in mind you will eventually rank well and stay there. Here is an example of one of our sites which we have been working on:

Useful Tools and Resources

To finish off, here are a few tools and services that will definitely be of use to you in your link building efforts:

  • Ahrefs.com – Very extensive site explorer and off-page audit tool. This is a must-have!
  • majestic.com – Similar to ahrefs, however it can help you find additional metrics and data that ahrefs does not aggregate
  • Ninja Outreach – For your first outreaching campaigns – very intuitive and easy to manage.
  • BuzzStream – Similar to ninja outreach. Great to start your outreach campaigns.
  • Buzzsumo – Find content that’s worth writing about.
  • KWfinder – Find and explore keywords within your niche.
  • WooRank –  Provides the basis for an extensive SEO analysis of your website

Conclusion

This concludes the second installment of our new web-series. We hope you have enjoyed the article as much as we have enjoyed writing it. As always, all feedback is welcome.

SEOlutions GmbH – Search Engine Optimization Done Right

(Updated last: February, 2019)

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