Link Building Steps : Clean Up Your Own Backyard

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In preparation for a presentation this week on the importance of link building and steps to an efficient and effective link building strategy, I am putting together blog posts this week which reflect my philosophy on link building, and what I have learned over the years.

Is it all too often that a company embarks on a link building campaign before making sure their web site is ready for the influx of links which will assist with search engine rankings. Many companies expect, despite the quality or relevance of their web site, that numerous anchor text rich links from relevant sites will immediately boost their search rankings after 3 or 4 months.

If the target site itself is fully optimized, or somewhat search engine friendly, then the benefits of link building will substantially increase.

Give Your Site a Tune Up

Like you would do to your vehicle before a long road trip, before going about a link building campaign, give your site an inspection and tune up. Here are some quick steps :

1. Make sure some of your desired keywords are in your title tag, in content h1 tag and within your site content. This may sound basic, but you’d be surprised as to the number of sites which do linking building and have overlooked basic SEO principles.

I suggest running your site through Website Grader to get a good idea of what it may be missing. Website Grader will compare your site to your competition, identify correct usage of keywords and also look for duplicate content issues such as using the same title tag on each page, which can kill you search rankings.

For some tips on basic on-site SEO read these :

2. If your company is planning on making changes to its internal URL structure within the next 3 months, then hold off on link building until then. Do not spend a fortune with a link building consultant or company and then change your site’s entire design or URL structure. It makes much more sense to wait because even though a 301 redirect will help transfer the link juice from the old URL’s to the new ones, direct links are much better.

3. Run Xenu Link Sleuth on your site. Link Sleuth is one of my favorite SEO oriented tools on the market and its free, just download the tool onto your PC and run a quick link check on your site. What Link Sleuth does is check web sites for broken links, images, outbound links, files … etc. to find parts of your site which are broken.

If your site has numerous issues such as broken pages, broken links, broken outbound links and missing images or script; your link building and SEO campaigns will only go so far and your ranking will hit a plateau.

Why? Because Google thinks your site is under construction if you have too many broken pieces. And Google does not want to serve broken sites to their users.

The Time Has come to Clean Up Your Own Backyard

One thing you can do, or have a linking professional embark on, is making sure that your site is getting the most value out of its existing links. The answer to linking can be right under your nose, you just have to look down and figure out what the smell is.

Look into the sites you have partnered with or traded links with in the past.

How do they link to you? Do they link using your company’s URL, or with a descriptive word about your company?

If they link to you using your company URL (eg. then they should be contacted and asked to change the link to “Get Widgets”, which reflects your company name and is now a valuable and keyword rich link.

The way sites link to you can also be controlled by your branding. If you brand yourself as, chances are you will be linked to using that text. But if you take advantage of the valuable keywords in your company name by branding yourself online as “Get Widgets”, then you can influence the way bloggers and publishers naturally link to you.

I’m working with a couple of companies right now, and have so over the years, which have attracted tens of thousands of natural backlinks from relevant sites in their field, but the majority of those links use the company URL as the anchor text.

Sometimes doing a little bit of link refurbishing to distribute the anchor targeted links amongst sites that already link to you can work wonders, redistributing the linking ratio and giving your site the needed boost and confidence to go out there and secure more targeted links.

Cleaned up? Good. Now you’re ready to embark on a link building campaign.

Loren Baker
Loren Baker is the Founder of SEJ, an Advisor at Alpha Brand Media and runs Foundation Digital, a digital marketing strategy & development agency.
Loren Baker
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  • OK, wait a minute! Are 301’s completely effective, or NOT? Your statement:
    “It makes much more sense to wait because even though a 301 redirect will help transfer the link juice from the old URL’s to the new ones, direct links are much better.”

    Do 301’s only kind-of work? Or do they work completely in transferring link juice.

  • 301s are a redirect, and like any redirect they have effects on the user experience. Google’s Matt Cutts just recently reiterated to the world that slow sites get ranked lower than fast sites. So, a linking campaign that sends most users to a 301 redirect, is going to get bumped downward in Google’s quality scoring system compared to a site with links to real URLs.

  • A natural link is going to work better than a 301 redirect because of both user URL used in the original link, the keywords in the URL, the anchor and the load time factor stated above. Thanks Nathan.

  • It is truly amazing what you can accomplish with the already existing links pointing at your site, without having to seek out any new links whatsoever. If you do it properly, of course 😉

  • What a concept — making sure your site is link-worthy before you go rushing out to try to collect links! I’m thinking in addition to the greater benefit you get from links pointing to a “tuned up” site, it’s just got to be easier to get those links in the first place if your site is in shape.

    Loren, this is such great advice. I love the analogy of inspecting and tuning up your car before a long road trip.

  • Great article Loren.

  • @Eric Ward : Yes, agreed, I think this topic would make for great material during a presentation. Something like Link Building Preparation, 0.5 … etc. Sometimes the best rank, is right under your nose.

    @Snoop : Thanks dude.

  • @Diane : Yes, you are correct. The quality and presentation of a site, or its brand recognition, can have a direct influence on its linking ratio, especially if you are using emails, wire services and other push marketing methods to attract the links.

    On the other hand, the content of the site also helps ‘sell’ it to publishers who may be looking to link to the top resources within a niche.

    I guess all in all, the quality is in the eyes of the target market, but making sure a site can squeeze the most out of its link juice, whether that juice be sitting on the shelf already or still waiting to be plucked from the groves, is a top priority.

  • The advice given in this article is absolutely essential for everyone who is engaged in linkbuilding. And thanks for mentioning WebsiteGrader. Hadn’t yet heard of that tool and will give it a try now.