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I've received a lot of emails from clients asking if high quality white hat link building is safe or still used as a search rankings strategy in 2021. This question is a bit of a catch 22. If you are paying link building companies to improve your backlink profile then it is not considered a white hat strategy. Google has been very clear about their stance with best link building practices and they claim to have a zero-tolerance for "buying" any type of link.
That said, backlink building is still a very powerful strategy in the SEO industry and will, in my opinion, remain to be for the foreseeable future. When done right, risks are minimal and search engine rankings will improve. For the purpose of this article, I will not focus on any overly dangerous link building strategies and stick with the safest and best long term link building tactics.
Before we get started I should mention that I am biased as I am the owner of a link building company (www.updigital.ca). Our SEO Agency aims to provide clients with high quality backlinks that are not purchased and instead rather obtained in safe ways such as a guest post or blogger outreach service. These white hat links focus on content quality that visitors actually find valuable.
When thinking about using link building services you need to always keep in mind that everything looks natural. This means focusing on a link building strategy that has a variety of different types of links, aka your link profile. Many SEO Agencies don't take the time to properly plan and execute a safe link building campaign. They instead build links of low quality content, they don't diversify their link profile and their clients end up paying the price.
Google is always getting smarter. Their algorithm is always evolving and they're consistently staying one step ahead. They will know if your link placement is always the same or if your website has a link profile that isn't diverse enough or if the body of your guest post text doesn't contain readable quality content. Gone are the days of building hundreds of black hat links with the same anchor text linking to your inner page you want to rank. You need to make sure your backlink profile is linking to all of your inner pages and homepage in a natural way.
When building links do not stuff your anchor text with exact match anchor text. Gone are the days of targeting an exact match keyword text within your anchors. Sure, do it once or twice with your strongest quality backlinks but don't overdo it. For example, if your keyword you wanted to rank on search engines was "landscaping company", you should use anchor texts like "best landscaping company", "[city] landscaping company", "what is the best landscaping company". Use longtail keywords.
For your homepage link building tactics you should use branded and generic anchor text. For example, if your website URL is google.com you should use the following variations of anchor text for your homepage:
This is what natural link building would look like. And yes, Google does know something is not right if you have 200 links with the same anchor text. Mix it up and rarely target an exact match keyword within your anchor text. Before choosing between link building companies make sure you ask them a lot of questions about their best link building practices. Asking for a demo report of links is always a good idea.
Best link building strategies in 2021 will have a mix of do-follow and no-follow, high quality links. It seems to be true that Do-follow links are becoming less important than they used to be. Back in the day, your search engine optimization strategy would mostly contain do-follow links. That is because Google used to basically award no benefit to your search rankings if your links were no-follow.
While it is still true that do-follow links are still of more importance, we are starting to see no-follow links play an important role as well. Like everything in Search Engine Optimization, your link profile needs to look natural. We still recommend a mix of no follow and do follow in your SEO process with a bigger emphasis on do-follow.
With that in mind, let's dive into some of the specific link building tactics that are working well for 2021.
Let's start with guest posting. Guest posting is when you write an article with quality content and post it on a blog of a website. Now, back in the day, you used to be able to not worry about domain authority, or if the content was even readable. People used to spin article text and just try to get a bunch of garbage content on as many web pages as they could. Obviously, Google doesn't want to promote a whole bunch of dramatically incorrect websites on the top of their search engine rankings. They want their search engine to display quality content that visitors appreciate.
So, what is the right way to guest post now? The right way is by first creating unique, valuable content. Google is really good at understanding if an article is high quality and readable. Making sure the article itself is relevant and valuable for the person reading it will also ensure that the content within that article also starts to rank for its own keywords. This means more organic traffic from the guest post which means more visitors on your website per month. Ok, so you're going to write more engaging content, great.
Step two, make sure the guest post is on a website that is relevant for your niche. Search engines now value a link building strategy that builds niche, white hat links. You want to publish your guest post on a site that is in your industry. Not just that, but if your website is .ca or .com it is also wise to build links on sites that match your Country. A top link building SEO agency like www.updigital.ca will make it a priority to build links from sites within your Country.
Just to reiterate: Niche is important, Country is important, content is important but let me share with you what else you should focus on with guest posts. And that is Domain Authority. Domain Authority or otherwise known as "DA" is a metric used by search engines to rate the "power" of that site. The higher the DA the more getting a link from that site will improve your search engine rankings.
Domain Authority (DA) is not the only metric that matters. There are several others, let me name a few. Domain Rating (DR) shows the strength of a target website's backlink profile on a logarithmic scale from 0 to 100, with the latter being the strongest. Trust Factor (TF) is a metric SEMRush use, similar to DA. Referring Domains (RD) is also a metric used which is how many unique domains are linking to a specific site. Building links on a site with high metrics will better improve your search engine optimization.
One more piece of advice I'd like to give you about your guest posting and blogger outreach is trying to high quality links on a site with a good amount of organic traffic per month. You want to avoid accidentally getting a link on a PBN (Private blog network) for example. These are very risky and only good for short-term search engine results. You can't just trust Domain Rating (DR) you have to see that the site is getting organic traffic and also ranking for keywords.
To sum up guest posting and blogger outreach, focus on publishing articles with great unique content on high quality websites in your niche. Always be thinking about whether your link building strategy is creating links that are valuable for the reader. Your search rankings will thank you for it later. Now obviously you can perform blogger outreach to get these links or you can buy them from a website offering it. Ask your link building company for some sample domains that they can use for your guest posting links. Use a tool like SEMRUSH to check the DR and other metrics of those sites.
I love Niche forum backlinks in 2021. This type of manual link building is stronger than ever. When our SEO agency gets a new client our team will start to scout the internet for niche relevant websites within that client's city. Like I stressed before, niche relevance is more important than ever as part of a quality link building strategy.
Now, when I talk about forum link building I'm referring to taking part in real forum thread conversations. A custom link building campaign used to consider backlinks in a forum profile enough of a boost to help rankings. These days this kind of link hardly does anything for your search engine results. What you should look to do is have real conversations within forums where you slip your custom link in the conversation.
For example, I have vehicle body shop clients that were having a hard time improving their rankings on search engines. One of the strongest link building tactics that we implemented was manual link building on forums. We sought out car forums and made accounts and began taking part in some conversations.
On a fresh forum account, you want to engage in conversations without promoting your or your clients' website right away. This will make it easy for forum moderators to delete your comment and possibly ban your account. This of course is more work than guest posting but can achieve better results if you're willing to put the time and effort in.
Again, the rules stick if you're after that page one power. You want to seek out forums in your niche but also that have good metrics. This means high DR websites that have quality links.
If you like to perform quality link building yourself and take your project management into your own hands then niche forum quality backlinks are a great way to start. Use tools like SEMRush or MOZ to check out a forum's metrics and do what you can to get your custom link on their threads! Good luck!
Homepage, do follow links are by far the most powerful links you can obtain. If you manage to get a link from the root domain of a website that has strong website metrics then you're in for a treat. Search engines view this as the website fully vouching for you. It is difficult to obtain this kind of link on a genuine site.
It used to be true that a link in the footer was good enough, (how many times have you seen a link that says something like "website design by ___, or Marketing by ____") however things have changed recently in Google's algorithm. They put less value in to a link that's in the footer or in other words not "above the fold".
The easiest way to be successful with homepage link building is by reaching out to webmasters directly. For example, I have a few friends with businesses in other industries. I have asked them if they'd be interested in putting a link to my website on their homepage in exchange for referral commission. Get creative and think outside of the box, you might be surprised how many people are willing to cut a deal with you.
Niche-edits is considered fairly blackhat. It is not as much of a white hat link building method as the blogger outreach or forum backlinks. Niche edit backlinks are where you edit an existing article on a website, preferably one with high DR, existing web traffic, and a strong link profile. You edit the article to place your link within the article.
Similar to a guest post but different in the fact that you don't need to provide an article. Your link is being edited into an article with existing rankings. Again, it will be more beneficial to find an article in your niche, hence the name "niche edit".
The reason I consider this kind of link building service to be a little riskier is the fact that I don't think it would be too hard for search engines to figure out what you're doing. An article that doesn't change for a long period of time to all of a sudden contain a link of yours that may or may not fit well into the article is going to be an easy flag.
Niche edits have been around for a long time now and surely any day there will be a new update to the algorithm and you could be penalized. I recommend focusing on link building services that have the least amount of risk.
If your budget allows for it, press releases are still valuable in your link building campaigns. Few link building services know how to get this one right. You're going to have to do a lot of work to make sure the content is worthy of a news publisher picking it up. A backlink on a news website is almost always high quality and considered a white hat link building method.
There are platforms like "Haro" that help get your press release in front of many different news websites.
Broken link building is typically a white hat, scalable and in my opinion one of the best link building strategies around. In a nutshell, broken link building is when you contact the webmaster of a website who has a broken link on their website and recommends your website as an alternative link.
Keyword-Based: Keyword-based is, in our opinion the easiest broken link building method. What you do is enter keywords into search engines that are relevant to your website that links to content related to your niche. There are programs out there that can extract all of the links, find you the broken links and then you can look to qualify those opportunities.
Contact the webmaster and suggest your website as a content link for that article and hope they reply with positive affirmation! This is sort of like a niche edit but much safer in our opinion. The article should be relevant and Google can see it went from a broken to a working link.
We have many clients that see great success from our link building agency generating these kinds of high-quality, high DR niche relevant backlinks. The thing is, they're not easy to obtain but they do a great job at moving your website up through the SERPs.
Social media links are an important part of any link building service. Remember, we want search engines to see that we're popular, valuable, and real. To do this we need to look natural and there's nothing more natural than mentions of a website over social media channels.
When you first set up a website It's really important that you take the time to register a page on numerous social media sites. Getting links from sites like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and so will help your rankings.
Whenever you can, engage in real conversations about topics related to your website and slip a link in there when you can. The best link building services include social media links in their link building service.
On sites like LinkedIn or Twitter, you can actually search for real conversations happening. For example, our link building team will periodically enter "web design" or "SEO services" into the search bar to see who might be asking for these kinds of services. This is a great way to find people looking for your services.
Reply to the posts and always try to do it with a link back to your website. Our clients are always appreciative when we send them a customer that is ready to purchase their services.
Directory submission link building is one of my favorite link building methods. These kinds of links are typically put on directories that are local or national and relative to your niche. They are also safe and natural links.
While it is true that search engines don't typically give these links a lot of value, they still play an important role in your link building. When you're link building you should always look to achieve high link diversity. To keep things looking natural you want to have a wide range of different links that complete your link profile.
If you're looking to rank local keywords then do a deep search in to local directory submission websites. Most cities have a directory submission sites that are local and will be seen as a powerful niche link.
Content marketing is still a powerful backlink building strategy. It's the process of producing and distributing valuable content that attracts, engages, and acquires a targeted audience. The objective is to deliver profitable customer or consumer action on your website.
A content marketing strategy can leverage all sorts of different channels such as:
If you were to examine the process of your typical customer before they end up purchasing your goods or services there would be a typical flow. Content marketing can look to target customers or clients at any stage of their buying process.
One of our favorite link building services in regards to content marketing is infographics. You can get in touch with our white hat link building team via our contact form if you're in the marketing for inforgaphic content. Don't forget you can also use blogger outreach for your content marketing.
If you're working with a link building agency that has your best interests at heart then they should be looking at your competitors extensively. Using a tool like SEMRush You can pull up their site and see all of the high quality backlinks that they have obtained. This information is out there and your custom link building strategy should have this included.
If they're ranking on the first page of search engine and receiving a large amount of organic traffic per month then you should be copying them. Inspect their content, check out what their link building tactics are. Go to the sites that they've got backlinks from and do your best to obtain one as well.
Google has already awarded their website with rankings which tells you they're doing something right. Copy them while also implementing your own link building tactics that put you ahead of the competition. If you are looking to work with SEO agencies to help you with this, you can contact Up Digital. We are professional link builders that know what it takes to generate more organic traffic. We will give you a free website audit which includes competitor research and backlink building opportunities.
Below I will recommend what a safe link building service looks like for a brand new website.
By now you'll have a good number of backlinks and you can safely ramp up your link building campaigns. Understand that you should never use low quality links when you can help it. Focus on white hat link building for long term that will increase your organic traffic per month.
I'm going to go ahead and simply say no. While yes there may be a few quality link building services on sites like Fiverr, too many of them are dangerous low quality links. As of 2021 the majority of link builders on these sites are just offering hundreds of low quality links. They want to show short-term improvements to your site for a quick five-star review. They don't care that in a couple of months you may get a penalty as they've already been paid and received their review.
Work with SEO agencies or a team that has your best interests at heart. Link building companies are all going to offer different link building services. They should, before ordering, be able to present a high quality link building campaign that is safe for your website and aligns with what you're learning within this article.
In general tiered link building is still safe and effective. A good strategy is typically building a strong link and then sending tier 2 links to the strong link. The reason this is an effective link building method is because you're improving the power of one link instead of sending numerous "spammy" links to your site.
Sending tier 2 links to your strong links is also a good way of helping the link get indexed sooner. It takes time for search engines to crawl your backlinks. Sending numerous links to your strong link will help things happen sooner.
Lastly, if there is any update to the google algorithm, you're most likely going to avoid any serious penalty with less links pointing directly to your site.
This is definitely a question where there are numerous variables at play. The way we do it at Up Digital is by offering different link building services for different budgets. Let me give you some examples of the kinds of link building tactics and link building services we offer for a range of budgets.
This would be for a local company trying to rank for local keywords. The best link building services in this price range should be able to accomplish a lot per month for local keywords. For this price, your link building agency should be able to create fresh content, generate high quality backlinks for your website, and improve the rankings of your site every month.
For this price, link building services should at minimum produce one content piece per month targeting a range of keywords. This should also include some link building services. Obviously, you won't have the budget to obtain super high quality backlinks but that's typically not needed for local keyword rankings. You'd typically see a spend of around $30-$40 per link.
This type of budget is perfect for a company targeting national keywords for their site. Spending this kind of money per month should do the trick for tough-to-rank keywords. The link building service you use should be able to perform some blogger outreach for this price. The backlinks should be mostly high DR and should offer some of the best link building for your site.
For this price you can expect more unique content from your SEO services team and should see more movement from a range of keywords per month in comparison to the small budget.
If you get in touch with our SEO experts we can provide you with an example link building report of what kind of powerful backlinks you can expect for this price. You'd typically see a spend of around $40-$100 per link.
A large budget would be for keywords that aren't as longtail as the national keywords and are typically global keywords. We work with many clients that require this kind of high DR, link building service. Typically what you're getting for this budget are expensive backlinks. Backlinks that come from a news or government website, or a high DR website with extremely impressive metrics.
This opens the door to also produce more content, and typically an entire project management team will be assigned to a budget like this. You can expect to be paying over $100 per link with this kind of budget.
I know this post is for people looking for advice on the best link building services before choosing a link building agency. That said, I can't just only talk about backlinks and SEO services without speaking on content. While yes, link building and a link building services are still extremely important to rank your website, but content plays a crucial role more than ever in 2021.
It might shock you but these days you really can achieve top rankings just from your content alone. As an example, I'm writing this article and I am not going to use any link building services on it and I will report back later on how this page does for rankings. Check back in March or April of 2021.
Search engines want the viewer to find valuable content quickly and effectively. This makes their platform more valuable and needed. You can pay for all of the best link building services you'd like but if your website doesn't have content that's done the right way then forget it. You will only get so far up in the SERPs if you don't nail this part of your SEO services.
Luckily for you, there's a fantastic tool for writing perfect content. That tool is SurferSEO.com. SurferSEO.com will let you input a keyword and give you all of the advice to write perfect content in real-time. It will pull all of the top-ranking websites and give you advice on what you should write for your website content. It tells you how many times to mention a certain search phrase and what keywords you should rank your website page for. It's a beautiful thing.
As an example, it suggests that this article is 6000+ words long, has at least 21 paragraphs and over 100 headings. It also ranks the score of this article. If I can get a good score, I'll publish this article and then I'll have my team implement our best link building services.
Many clients of mine are only concerned with how much link building my team can do for them and I always need to remind them that content is also extremely, if not more important. If you want me to take a look at your website and give you some free tips regarding your content reach out to me through our contact form. I always reply to any request.
Stay away from any link building service that promises hundreds or thousands of links. In 2021 this one hundred percent will damage your website. We have clients contact our team all the time that paid for this kind of link building service and were hit with a Google penalty.
Our team has a much more difficult time achieving the results our clients want when this happens. It can be quite difficult to dig your website out of a penalty. It takes time and a bunch of other tricks which will be for another blog post.
Stay away from any link building service that provides:
Remember, it is quality over quantity. We've achieved impressive results for our clients, sometimes with perfect content and only a few strong links. Reach out to our link building team for a free audit of your website and get genuine, free advice.
Link building for clients can be difficult if you're new to SEO. Let me give you some guidance about using tools to improve your link resources.
What I would first suggest is for you to figure out if you're mostly dealing with clients that have .ca or .com websites. Keeping in mind that you want to get them niche relevant links, the same goes for getting a Canadian site .ca links and a US site .com links.
Next, fire up a tool like SEMRush. For this example let's focus on getting links for Law Firm clients. The first thing I do is type in a search phrase that is relevant to your client's industry. So for example, if your client is a New York law firm, just type New York Lawfirm into their keyword research bar.
Now what you should be able to see is a list of websites ranking on the first page for this keyword. These are the guys that are doing it right and what you're going to want to emulate for your clients website.
Check out the first couple of websites and dive into their backlink profile. The next thing you want to do is sort their backlinks by page authority. In general, these are going to be their most powerful links and you should try your best to also get your clients a link from these websites.
Go through the list of links, opening each link a new window. Figure out if there's a free way to obtain a link for your client. Sometimes you can contact the webmaster and simply ask them how you could get an article featured on their website. Go to the next link and continue through the list this way.
As you can see, link building done the right way takes a lot of manual work. This is why It's laughable to us that there are "SEO professionals" selling link building packages for $100. These are nothing more than automated link building tools because you simply cant perform proper link building without putting in a good amount of time.
This is also why every client is unique and has a custom link building strategy. For example, local clients looking to rank for City keywords might only need a few links to overcome their competitors. It wouldn't be fair to charge this type of client the same amount of money for their link building campaign.
Let's sum up everything we learned in this link building article.
In my opinion, there is no "one link building service fits all" yet. Search engines are always changing their algorithm and really what it comes down to is testing things out for yourself.
Spend some time to rank your own site(s) and try all sorts of different link building. With the thousands of different variables that Google uses, what might work for one company may not work for yours.
There are general guidelines to follow and good advice out there but test, test again, and test some more.
Up Digital is here to help you with your link building service requirements. At no cost at all, we will perform a website audit for you and give you a list of suggestions and options for improving your SEO. Check out the form at the bottom of this page if you'd like to speak with us!
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