Live from #SMX East: Link Building Fundamentals

By Lindsay Keller | Sep 14, 2011
More Articles by Lindsay

The Link Building Fundamentals session at SMX East was presented by Debra Mastaler, President of Alliance-Link, an interactive marketing company focused on providing custom link building training. This session provided insight into how to reach out and get quality links, how to craft anchor text to build authority, and how to avoid common mistakes that can hurt your web credibility and search engine rankings.

First of all, without effective keywords, you can’t have effective links. Link building is an extremely important search engine optimization tactic because links are a driving force of the Google algorithm. Debra Mastaler mentioned that if there is one thing you should remember at the end of this presentation it is that link popularity is key to your online success!

Link Popularity measures the quality and quantity of links pointing to a webpage. You may here fellow search engine marketers refer to this as link love or link juice.

The four factors that determine link popularity include:

  1. Link Quality - PageRank on Google is a link analysis algorithm that helps determine link quality
  2. Link Quantity – How many links are pointing back to your site?
  3. Relevance - Pages that are contextually similar – Is the site linking to your site in the same keyword neighborhood?
  4. Anchor Text - Tremendous amount of weight is given to anchor text in Google’s Algorithm

 Things to avoid when link building:

  • Acquiring a lot of links quickly (build slowly, increase content, vary link types, look at competitors)
  • Using the same anchor text over and over
  • Securing links from networks/link wheels/microsites (diversify – don’t just submit to directories)
  • Acquiring the same type of link in mass quantity

Link Building Best Practices:

  • Screen partner sites carefully
  • Place Links in content areas (avoid navigation and sponsored areas)
  • Understand all links have value
  • Link to your internal pages as much as possible (don’t just always link to the home page)

Link Building Tactics:

  • Content Generation
    • Linkbait
    • Reviews
    • Guest Blogging  (Find Sources through the Google blog directory, Technorati Blog Directory, BOTW Blog Directory, and NetworkedBlogs)
    • Article Writing
    • Podcasts
    • News Outlets (Get to know the journalists in your area)
    • White Papers
    • Image Sharing  (Create an image library on your site and let people know that they can use your photos as long as they link back to your site)
    • Promote ever thing you write through social media
  • Foundational Linking
    • Directory submissions
    • Local
    • Widgets (
    • Blog Comments (Use Google/Bing Blog directory to find blogs)
    • Reclaiming Links (diagnostics – crawl errors – not found)
    • Video Sharing
    • Forum Posting
    • Social Media Links (The Facebook notes column is turning up in the index more frequently for “long tail” terms)
  • Authority Linking Tactics
    • .edu/.gov blogs
    • Strategic back linking
    • Link requests  (work best with a focused mailing list)
    • Press releases (Press Releases are good for deep linking.  Be sure to include a summary quote and interview offer in your press releases)
    • YouTube optimization

Content generation and authority linking are the two most important tactics to link building.

One great way to build links is through Wikipedia because of the tendency to rank high in organic search results. Some ways to build links with Wikipedia include:

  • References and External Links at the bottom page
  • Secure links from sources listed in external links and references
  • Back link Wikipedia Page

Key Take Aways:

  • Avoid reparative anchor text
  • Implement a wide variety of tactics using content
  • Create strategies around popular elements found in search results
  • Focus on creating and distributing trusted content
  • Promote the content you create

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