Three Killer (and unfortunately most ignored) Link Building Ideas

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Let’s face it: authorship may have been bulldozing around for quite a while, but links are the most important ranking factor for search engines, still. SEOs are still buying links for their clients. High-authority sites are still selling do-follow sponsored links – Forbes was recently penalized for that (note, it’s been penalized in the past too); Search Engine Roundtable was also penalized doing the same (amazingly, Barry surrendered to Google this time around and no-followed all the sponsored links on his site). These are some of the many sites we know – yet there are many out there that’re selling links secretly.

Buying links is not as bad a practice as it sounds today – even the great SEO authorities like Danny Sullivan and Rand Fishkin supported it once – but Google wants us to have natural links only and is going out of its way to catch the transgressors (by looking at patterns, site history etc). And as Google’s search algorithm gets smarter and smarter – it’s now even tricking spammers by faking search results for a short time – it makes little sense to buy sponsored links even if the site owner promises to make that sponsored thing unlabeled.

Let’s discuss three killer link building ideas that’re also unfortunately the most ignored, for sooner or later we need to reach to a stage where we build some genuine relationships and stop fretting over what if Google gets to know about this.

Forget keywords as anchor texts

Let me first speak your mind: “here’s another noob to SEO,” “it’s easier said than done,” “wait, come again!” “horseshit!” … Ok, I understand that I might not sound irrefutable when I say forget keywords as anchor texts. But do you remember Google Penguin? Yes, the update that’s getting more and more intolerant to link spamming over time and would now penalize you even if 80% 50% of your links are suspicious.

“How would I rank then”, you ask? First, we need to make it clear that Google doesn’t hate anchors – Google loves them, read its SEO guide for starters again. Anchors are one the best ways to help Google “organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Google actually hates webspam. It’d undoubtedly benefit you if you’ve diversity in your anchors and are not over optimizing them. Use your company’s name as anchor text because that’s most natural – you can at times use your URL and at the other times your keywords as well. And hey, if you’re contributing a guest post, you could even link to some of your cool stuff anywhere in it, but, of course, that should be terribly relevant.

It’s not about links, it’s about you, your business, and your brand

As SEOs, we’ve always been obsessed with links. Whenever there is a talk about SEO, most of us fascinate links from sites like Mashable, TechCrunch, Smashing Magazine, SEOmoz and even Search Engine Journal. That needs to change. Links-first approach needs to change to business-first approach, or rather relationship-first approach.

It takes time and effort for high-quality link building practices such as creating infographics, guest posts, podcasts, webinars and comics. And it’s not justifiable to belittle all that to links only. Let me explain.

Suppose you have contributed a guest post to a high-authority tech blog (say, and got your golden link. You’re, of course, excited as hell but are now shifting your attention to another great blog, another golden link. You’re now thinking in domains – one domain, one link. That’s good, but only for your link portfolio. Moreover, did you thank for publishing your post? Did you even entertain the comments on your post? Did you try to push your post on social media? These are some of the things we need to take care of if we want to build relationships for life. And trust me, links will follow.

If you’ve walked uphill bare foot to get a link, Google knows that

If you give a choice to choose between 500 links from low-quality sites and one from Huffington Post, I’ll choose the latter. Why? Because numbers don’t matter anymore to search engines. Only quality and relevance do. And don’t worry, Google would sooner or later find out whether your link is hard-earned or not.


It’s better to stop obsessing over links and SEO. When we do that, we end up doing disasters, spamming. Let’s not over optimize links anymore, because letting them look as natural as they would help us in the long run, too. Let’s seek hard links, build happy relationships and help our clients do that.


Ruchi Pardal

Ruchi Pardal

Ruchi Pardal is the Director of ResultFirst, a Digital Marketing Company with a global clientele. Serving in the digital domain for more than a decade,... Read Full Bio
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  • Hazel Jarrett

    I totally agree that links should be as natural as possible and it should be about building relationships rather than building links, but boy… that sure does take a lot of time and work! Quality and relevance are definitely key to all things SEO though.

    • Sahil

      The current SEO is all about providing the quality content in the niche consistently, earning quality & relevant links, creating brand awareness, building a community of constantly engaging & trustworthy users in the niche. Earning links from relevant and authoritative sources naturally is what takes time and worth the effort , is also what gets Google’s eyes.

  • David Luther

    I have been paying a lot of attention to link building techniques lately, especially with Matt Cutts announcing that Penguin 2.0 is on the horizon.
    I found the statement “It’s not about links, it’s about you, your business, and your brand” particularly interesting and in line with all the Penguin suggestions moving forward. I think branded marketing is fantastic and the more credible a companies distribution of information….the more they should benefit from traffic online. I know that Web-Tonic will be promoting content and brand based SEO from now on.
    Thanks for the good read.

  • Ros

    It seems to be getting harder and harder for the small business website to rank in Google’s eyes. It isn’t that easy to go out there and get high quality links if you’re a ‘little guy’ on the internet, particularly when that company has to focus mainly on the day-to-day running of the business itself. I think that everything online is becoming like our high streets……only the big guys have a chance to survive and the small ‘shops’ are being forced out of existence. Someone tell me I’m wrong!

    • Hazel Jarrett

      Yes, I totally sympathise Ros, it’s very tough for smaller businesses. For any small but local businesses, optimising your website for local search terms does cut out a lot of competition. I wrote a useful local SEO guide all about keeping your SEO targeted to your local area, creating optimised local search engine listings and getting active on social media, it might be useful to small, local businesses struggling to compete with the big guys –

    • Ruchi Pardal (post author)

      You’re somewhat right, Ros. Sure, small businesses don’t have as much opportunities. But social, content and local search are their best friends and always will be. So why not make the most of them?

      Thank you for sharing a valuable guide, Hazel.

  • Nick Stamoulis

    ” You’re now thinking in domains – one domain, one link. That’s good, but only for your link portfolio.”

    The best links beget links and while one link is good, two is better. How can you turn that one golden link into 2 or 3 more links? How can you get some social signals and brand building from that link as well? Always look to take it one step further.

    • Ruchi Pardal (post author)

      Point taken, Nick. Thank you for value-adding.

  • Mike

    Hey, why not perform tests on the matter? Build two dummy websites that should rank for a keyword that’s not very competitive, then give one 50 links with the keyword alone and then give the other 10 links with the keyword, and fill the rest of 40 with more natural ones. Only then your readers will be able to trust what you teach them. And you’ll find out if this method actually works or not!

  • Aditya Nath Jha

    I strongly agree with the views presented by you Mam. I too learnt it the hard way, when one of my quality posts landed me a dofollow link from a pr 8 site.
    Legitimate methods are the best 😀

  • Chavz

    I strongly agree with your opinion, I think social media has a huge influence in any business today.
    Thank you for sharing.

  • Derek Fischer

    The consistent stance at Google is that content needs to be organic. That is the base line for any SEO strategy and it is especially true of the use of links in the content that gets posted. If a link belongs in the text or is relevant to an image then include it. If it is just a blatant attempt to make a connection to a higher ranked site then Google will pick that up and flag it as suspicious. Relevance is the core value for choosing links.

  • Annalisa


    I noticed you work for a “pay-for-performance model,” firm. I’m assuming this means that you client pays based on the ROI of your efforts. Is that correct?

    I agree with your sentiments of hard work, branding and adding value – over focusing solely on building links. It makes sense, and I think most industry professionals would agree. In working for an agency, I often find my biggest challenge, is convincing my client that relationship/brand building are important. They are looking at their budget, and they want results. This translates into monthly goals of needing to obtain X number of links.

    From your perspective (and in working on a pay-for-performance scale), how do you convince your clients that value/quality, trumps quantity?

  • Rakesh Narang

    It certainly is about building a brand and I think there are a lot of ways one can leverage a community without organic traffic. I mean social media and sites like Facebook has made people spend so much time online that if you want to do online business, you shouldn’t even think of getting your site to PR8. Do regular people know what PR8 is? No.