So, you want to build first tier backlinks? When I first got into search engine optimization it was difficult to understand backlinking as a concept. Of course I understood that a backlink was when one website linked to another, but I had no idea how to determine whether or not a link was of high quality. Actually, quality was just not as big of a concern when I first broke into the industry. You were able to effectively rank a website with nothing more than forum profiles at the time.
Today, Google actively penalizes websites for a low-quality link profile. Generally, they are attempting to target websites that are generating massive amounts of spam links around the web. I’ve never subscribed to the belief that spam links were going to be an effective solution long-term. Every website that I build is shortly followed by the creation of a high quality first layer, or first-tier of backlinks.
When building backlinks I attempt to create links that are more promotional in nature. I’ve learned that a backlink that actually delivers traffic to your website is worth 100 times more than a link on a high PR page that no one will ever see.
How Do You Know When Backlinking is ‘Safe’?
To be honest, there is no great solution for determining when a backlink will be regarded as a quality one by Google. The algorithm is unavailable to the public, and anything that you see online is generally going to be speculation. I feel that worrying about individual links is counterproductive. If you employ the right strategies when building your links and promoting your website, you will create quality backlinks that will diversify your link profile, shielding you from potential damages down the road.
By that same token, I have spoken to many business owners that employed the safest of backlinking methods only to find their websites penalized when Google dropped the hammer. You are never completely safe, and if this is something that truly bothers you, you need to diversify your traffic methods or get out of the industry completely.
Promotion vs. Linkbuilding
When I’m building my own first-tier links, I try to look at these links as more promotional in nature, rather than being strictly for link building purposes. When I say promotional in nature, I mean that people are actually going to see the links, and possibly click on them and travel to my website. You can tell when a link is promotional in nature when it;
- Drives traffic. A solid promotional link will drive traffic to your website. It will be placed on a page that provides excellent information, that makes users curious about your website.
- Surrounded by relevant information. You wouldn’t want a link to your apple pie recipes website from a motor oil production website. Try to make sure that your first-tier links are surrounded by relevant content.
- From trusted websites. You don’t have control over websites linking to you on their own accord, but you definitely do have control over the links that you build. Target only trusted websites through blog commenting and guess posting when attempting to get the word out there about your quality website
The one thing that is always present in any backlinking endeavor, is the need for quality content to use as a link source. Prepare to write a large number of articles that will be completely dedicated to being posted on other websites and dropping a link to your homepage. You’ll be using this content for guest posts, high quality Web 2.0 properties, and creating small niche websites that will link to your own. Plan to create anywhere from 25 to 100 articles for this purpose, depending upon the amount of time that you have to dedicate.
If you want to get people talking about your website, you’re going to have to initiate the conversation. Social outreach is an excellent method for creating brand awareness and getting more people interested in the information that you are sharing. Personally, I use BuzzBundle for my own social outreach purposes. It allows you to enter a number of different keywords, which are then searched on the largest social networking sites on the planet, with relevant conversations returned. This gives you a fast and efficient method for jumping into conversations that are related to your niche.
Guest posting is my favorite method for building high quality promotional backlinks. Guest posting is the practice of providing content to another website. Usually this content is exchanged for link back to your own website. Businesses have been doing this for years in newsletters, white papers, and a variety of other formats.
Finding guest posting opportunities can be difficult if you don’t know what to look for. There are number of excellent networks out there that you can utilize to your advantage, connecting with other webmasters within your industry to ensure that you are able to deliver the highest quality backlinks pointing toward your website. Some of the ways that I go about finding guest posts within my industry include;
- Asking. Building an online business is the same as any other industry – you have to get out there and network. Start to develop relationships with individuals that are located within your industry. I’ve always found that an excellent way to build relationships with other prominent bloggers within a given industry is to interview them about their experiences. Once you have built a solid foundation with them, then you can begin asking for guest blogging opportunities. It becomes easier if you are directly related or have some benefit to offer them as well.
- MyBlogGuest.com. Although they recently incurred a Google penalty for being a link building resource, the resource is still an excellent one that I use all the time to find high quality link building resources.
- BlogDash. BlogDash is a blogger outreach community that allows bloggers to exchange content and guest posting opportunities with one another.
- GroupHigh. GroupHigh is a paid option, but a very effective one. They are a blogger and social outreach community.
Although it’s definitely an old-school technique, I have found blog commenting to be an excellent resource for not only driving traffic to my own properties, but building high quality backlinks on relevant pages. Become familiar with some of the largest blogs located in your industry. Start responding to their postings, and offering your own insight on the subject. Not only will the visitors possibly see your comments, but the blog owner will become more familiar with your website. Blog commenting can be a great way to open a dialogue.
People love receiving free promotion. A prominent blogger that otherwise would not pay attention to you, may be willing to dedicate a bit of time toward mentioning your website if you have effectively promoted them in some way. Perhaps you can promote a course that they are offering. Maybe you want to complement some of the content on their website. Find interesting ways to link to other bloggers within your industry, and try to solicit backlinks in that way. After linking to a website, don’t be afraid to contact them through social media and let them know that you did. While not everyone will respond, I found it to be an effective method for building relationships with other bloggers within your industry.
High Quality Web 2.0 Properties
High quality Web 2.0 properties might have been done to death, but they are still an effective backlinking method. There are many different types of Web 2.0 properties out there, with the most commonly targeted properties being Squidoo, and HubPages. These websites have really improved their quality assurance processes over the course of the last few years, and it can be a bit difficult to get links to stick on those platforms.
It is also important to understand that a high quality Web 2.0 property is not simply a single article with a link to your website. I prefer to build higher quality Web 2.0 properties that in and of themselves could be considered a quality, authority website. When I’m building my first-tier Web 2.0 properties, I attempt to build properties with the following included;
- At Least 3 Articles. You want to make sure that there is ample content on these properties. There are multiple different reasons for this. To start, it makes the properties less likely to get deleted after a manual inspection. Additionally, properties that have had several articles added to them over the course of time appear to be more active. They are just higher-quality in general.
- 2-3 Images. Try to make sure that you are including at least one image per article. Not only does Google consider articles that include images be of higher quality, but they are just easier to look at and a more visual experience for the reader.
- 1 Video. Find a YouTube video that is relevant to your industry, and post it with one of the articles. This helps to increase the value that the property provides.
I use RankWyz to create and monitor a vast number of Web 2.0 properties. It’s a complete solution that allows you to not only manage your accounts and the properties themselves, but to also drip feed content onto the properties with regularity.
I’ve found linkbait to be a loaded term, but one that accurately depicts what you are trying to create. Content that is considered “linkbait” is typically content that was created to be shared by others. They may use clever, over-the-top titles to get people interested in the article, and they have become quite popular on Facebook. However, there is a professional way to go about crafting link bait. For instance, if you were in a business-to-business industry, a link they might garner some interest might be a case study that examines an important aspect of your industry. In essence, link bait can be high quality content. Build content that people are going to want and need. Build content that your users are going to find interesting. Build content that your audience wants. Then, they will be more likely to share the content that you create.
Ask For Coverage
Everyone knows that getting a link from a high quality publication or newspaper can be absolute gold for your business. However, most people love no idea how to go about doing so. They might sit back and release press releases on a daily basis, hoping to catch the eye of some wandering journalist. However, you definitely should be afraid to ask for coverage from journalists. There are thousands of freelance journalists out there writing for multiple publications. Attempting to network with these individuals, and tipping them off to stories relating your business that they might be interested in is a great way to develop relationships and build backlinks that point to your website.
The one point that I want to drive home in this guide is the fact that your first year backlink should be mostly promotional in nature. At least, that’s the guideline that I live by. When you’re first-tier of backlinks are completely promotional in nature, you have a much better chance of building high quality backlinks that won’t trip a penalty from Google. While some search engine optimization professionals might see a lot of value in pump and dump websites, I find that building a solid foundation needs to better long-term results.