If you want to rank higher in search engines, you need a stronger domain authority. And to get a stronger domain authority, you need stronger links pointing back to your website. But of course nothing in SEO is straightforward; if you just start building links indiscriminately, you could end up getting your site penalized or delisted entirely.
Accordingly, it's vital to maintain a natural backlink profile. But newcomers and experienced professionals alike often find it difficult to figure out exactly what a “natural” backlink profile looks like. That's why we put together this list of simple rules which, if followed, should allow you to build a near perfect backlink profile for SEO.
Why Is a Natural Backlink Profile So Important?
Why is it so important that your backlink profile appears natural?
The most obvious answer is that you'll protect your site from possible penalties. Maintaining natural links is a way of keeping Google happy with your website, incentivizing them to rank your site higher and discouraging negative actions.
But it's also important to remember that natural links are valuable for users as well. Visitors who stumble upon your site for the first time after encountering an interesting, valuable link will be much happier with your brand than people who see you spamming links on irrelevant sources.
Simple Rules to Follow
So what are the simple rules you can follow to keep your backlink profile as natural as possible?
1. Start slow.
Too many newcomers to the field are eager to build links as quickly and as aggressively as possible. While it's somewhat true that more links are better, if you build links too quickly or too aggressively, you're going to invite a penalty.
It's much better to start slow and gradually scale up your efforts; build links one at a time and don't build too many links in a given time period. While the exact formula for the number of links allowed will depend on factors like the age of your domain and the industry in which you're operating, for the most part, a common sense approach will work.
2. Make content your top priority.
Natural links are entirely dependent on high-quality content. Your links should be pointing to high-quality content and should be housed in high-quality content. In fact, guest author posts on external websites are the top strategy for building natural links in SEO. As long as the quality of your content is the top priority, you'll have a much easier time making your links look natural.
3. Build a maximum of three links on a given source (to start).
Try not to build too many links on the same source. Repetitive or additional links on the same source are going to have diminishing returns for your domain authority; each link after the first will still send referral traffic your way, but will be significantly less valuable for ranking purposes. It's much better if you try to build links on a wide variety of different publishers.
4. Make sure every link points to quality content.
In line with our points on quality, make sure every link you build points to some valuable piece of content on your main site. Visitors should be welcomed with relevant, well written, and detailed content. Otherwise, your entire strategy could fall apart.
5. Write for the publisher and the audience.
When writing and publishing guest posts, make your top priority the publisher and/or the audience. Your link and the content that houses it should provide something of value to these people; if it doesn't, it may be better to seek a different source.
6. House every link in relevant anchor text.
Anchor text is something of a debatable issue in the SEO community, but one thing is for sure: your anchor text needs to be relevant. If you stuff it with keywords trying to aggressively get clicks, the link is not going to work.
7. Continue pushing for more (gradually).
If you want to keep climbing ranks, you'll need to keep pushing your backlink building strategy, reaching out to new publishers and building a larger volume of links. Keep pushing for more if you want to continue your growth – just don't get too aggressive.
8. Practice natural link earning.
Building links manually is a reliable way to keep your link momentum, but it's also a good idea to practice natural link earning. Write amazing on-site content and make an effort to distribute it to as many people as possible; if you have citable facts and statistics, people will link to you naturally.
Whether you're just starting out or are trying to push for a top spot after years of effort, it's important to take your backlink profile seriously. With these rules and strategies, you should have no trouble keeping your backlink profile clean and maximizing your search engine rankings.
Sarah is a lover of cooking and eating food, a lover of the written word, a lover of the outdoors and a SEO Padawan learner.