Natural Linking Strategy for Bloggers

medsecretbaseReaders have been asking me  questions  about linking  strategy, and what prompted  me to complete and  publish this post today was reading  Link Building: Who Is Your Website’s Biggest Competitor? What follows is  information for bloggers to consider when developing a natural linking strategy.

Google is favoring blogs with natural linking patterns and penalizing over-optimized blogs

Google used to evaluate blogs by looking at areas  that can be easily manipulated by webmasters, such as meta tags, alt tags, keyword density, page titles, etc.   This has changed.  Now  Google is looking most favorably at and rewarding sites with evidence of  a natural link building approach, and is penalizing over-optimized blogs.

The reason for this is clear. Google  attempts to offer, the  best service possible for those using their search engine by having the most relevant, and most useful search results. The most important factor contributing to your Google ranking, is  reader-friendliness, and naturally acquired organic links are the best kind of links because  they indicate that real people are showing an interest in your content.

Back story

Here’s the back story.  In order to boost their site’s rankings with the sheer number of inbound links many webmasters had agreed to reciprocal link exchanges. However, because many of these links were not relevant, they were disregarded in the last few Google PageRank updates. That meant that although the irrelevant inbound link was ignored, the outbound link still got counted, and this diluted the relevancy score of many sites. The result was that many sites dropped off the Google map during the last few Google PageRank updates.

Link farms

Search engine criteria for quality inbound links has become increasingly tougher due to unscrupulous webmasters trying to achieve incoming links by deceptive techniques, like hidden links, or automatically generated pages designed solely to provide incoming links to websites.

A link farm consists of sites that link to other sites for the sole purpose of increasing their link popularity rating and ranking. Unlike perfectly valid links to sites with related information, sites that participate in link farming contain links to totally unrelated sites. This practice is also referred to as link stuffing. These pages are called link farms. They are disregarded by search engines, and linking to a link farm can result in your blog being banned entirely.

Blogging for money

Also note that if you are blogging for money then PageRank can be a major issue. Once your blog has a higher PR (4 or 5) then higher paying writing opportunities do  become available to you. However, if you write for services like ReviewMe, Text Link Ads, Smorty, and/or PayPerPost, etc. then it’s important to understand that Google doesn’t like paid links, so if you have them and if your site does not indicate them with “nofollow” or, if you’re active on the internet selling links, or selling links on your blog then your site’s PR will suffer.

If you don’t care about Google and PageRank then get involved with services like ReviewMe, Text Link Ads, Smorty, and/or PayPerPost, etc. and sell all the links you want. But if you don’t want to be harmed in Google PR updates then don’t sell links and don’t link to sites that do.

Reciprocal link exchanges

Acquiring lengthy Blogrolls by means of  link exchanges simply does not work any more.  Quality reciprocal link exchanges in and of themselves are not a bad thing, but most reciprocal link offers are of low quality. If too many of your links are of low quality it may make it harder for your blog to rank for relevant queries, and some search engines may look at inbound link and outbound link ratios as well as link quality when determining how natural a site’s link profile is.

Warning

If your pages and blog  has  a lot of reciprocal (two-way links), especially if they are not related, then know that:

  • search engines do not give much importance to unrelated (two-way) or reciprocal links;
  • search engines will assume that unrelated reciprocal links  are solicited links,
  • and in some cases,  they may even penalize your site.

Consequently, I no longer enter link exchanges with sites that are not directly related to my own sites.

Non reciprocal links rock!

The best linking strategy is to  acquire a  lot of non-reciprocal links (or one-way links), which are also relevant links to your blog from high ranking and popular blogs. When your blog receives a lot of quality non-reciprocal links, the search engines consider your site and the web pages that receive these inbound quality links as containing highly valuable  web content.

Link to authoritative sites and posts in your own posts

Understand that not every link has to be reciprocated and never hesitate to backup content  in your posts with a  link using appropriate anchor text to a directly related post on an authoritative blog, . This  natural linking strategy provides your readers with additional valuable information and it’s  useful in terms of  search engines  as well.

Link to authoritative sites in your Blogroll

It’s important part of link building strategy to create a target list of  authoritative blogs  from which you can  hope to receive links.  When you make link building decisions about which sites to link to in your Blogroll,  be sure you include only outbound links that your  your readers will find valuable.

How to find potential link partners (bloggers with  related blogs)

If a blog  links to your friend’s related blog the same blogger may also link to yours, and in order to find these potential natural link partners you can use search engines.  Google’s back link data is a lot less useful than it was in the past. Currently, Google is displaying only a small percentage of the sites that are linking and combining it with internal link data. You may find that Yahoo is a better portal to check for backlinks, and how to obtain  a list of linking web sites is go to http://www.yahoo.com and type the following into the Yahoo search bar. linkdomain:www.mycompetitorwebsite.com

Tools and Resources

(1) There’s a helpful  tool you can use to insure you aren’t linking to a bad neighborhood blog. By using the tool you can avoid linking to link farms, gambling sites, drug peddling sites, flesh peddling sites as well as other undesirable sites.  Also note that is a site is not listed in the first 100 results here http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&q=www.domain.com it has not been banned.  Simply replace “domain”  withe the relevant domain name  in this string in the searchbox  http://www.domain.com and click “Search”.

(2) In addition if you search the web you will find continuously updated lists of sites that have been banned and blacklisted by Google so you can avoid linking to them.

(3) This SEO Analysis Tool is to help you analyze and measure the ranking potential of your web pages. It doesn’t only analyze the Meta Tags of your pages, rather it tries to use the same spider technology as the search engines spiders them self.  New for 2009:  a Firefox SEO Analysis Tool extension which you can use to test  pages with just a single click. The results from the SEO Workers Analysis Tool are structured into the following useful groups:

  • General status;
  • Meta tags listing;
  • Meta tags analysis;
  • The page displayed within search engine results;
  • Keywords found in the anchor tags;
  • Keywords found in the image “alt” attribute text;
  • Keywords found on the page;
  • URLs found in the page;
  • Headers returned from the server.

(4) Google Page rank checkers are also useful and you will find a selection on the internet, some of which provide more information than others.

Related posts found in this blog:
Understanding Reciprocal and Non-Reciprocal Links
Understanding Backlinks
How Backlinks Will Make Google Your Blogs Best Friend
Getting the perfect link

22 thoughts on “Natural Linking Strategy for Bloggers

  1. Pingback: Natural Links: Google Warns Webmasters « one cool site

  2. Pingback: Blogroll or Links Page? « onecoolsitebloggingtips

  3. Honest, I just wish to focus just on creating unique, quality content with typical related links that are like research references which are on point and relevant.

    I’m not particularily interested in link exchanging unless it is related. But as one can see, there’s not much built up in my blogrolls..which is counter-intuitive to my formal training and work experience which is to give a list of quality, related resource links.

    It depends on the purpose of the blog and if the blog is directly linked to /embedded into a bigger content management tool that serves as an anchor research product. This scenario just given, is probably not something alot of independent bloggers deal with vs. someone who has a paid job where a corporate blog is just 1 marketing/service to clients.

  4. Just concentrate on building a high quality and unique content and natural linking will occur. However, It takes some time…

  5. Thank you for another very informative post that provided me with valuable knowledge on how to improve my blog links. I have tried to maintain just a few natural links in my blogroll. I do have a green links page which I was adding reciprocating links to for awhile but have now limited the use of that too. I have thought about deleting this page but after reading your post, I am thinking that since I don’t have too many links on that page that maybe its okay and isn’t harmful to my blog.

  6. The inbound link thing is tricky and I’m glad Google has started to ignore them- I was told before that my site was penalized because I had inbound links from link farms that I had nothing to do with.

    Thanks for a great post.

  7. I wrote about this subject a little while ago and drew many of the same conclusions that you have, particularly with respect to the natural accumulation of links being Google’s preferred scenario.

    I also read the statement about direct reciprocal linking and interpreted it slightly differently to you in that I focused on the word excessive, where Google state that :

    ‘Excessive reciprocal links or excessive link exchanging (“Link to me and I’ll link to you.”)’ will be considered a link scheme.

    So that is where it gets a little subjective because you then need to decide what exactly is excessive, I know that certain SEO companies put a number on the quantity of links you use which I discuss in my post, but the only way to find out for sure is through trial and error which can be a little tricky as page rank is difficult enough to come by.

    There are ways around direct linking that follow the more natural look but there are also occasions when direct linking is also completely genuine which is why I guess that Google use the term excessive and tolerate a certain level.

    Interesting post.

    • Thanks for sharing your knowledge and interpretations Brian. I apologize for taking so long to get to your comment. I have been experiencing a medical crises.

      • No problem about the time, perfectly understandable and I hope you are now recovering.

        I meant to point out that even though I still participate in direct linking at what I consider to be a reasonable level, I always try to ensure that the links are on subject and relevant to my blog content. I totally agree that non-relevant links that are off topic are more likely to be detrimental than enhance your ranking.

  8. Hello TT. your post above had inspired me to be a good to step on this path. ok keep creating your inventory based upon your own experience as bloggers are thirsty of your wise words. thanks and get well soon.keep writing

  9. Enjoyed the post Time Thief,

    Relatively new in blogging as yet and have not started active “linking” marketing as yet. The information in this post is helpful. Took notes to apply when I start my on my linking strategies.

    best………valentina

  10. I am happy to read this, suitable for me because I just learned to optimize my blog with SEO, regard

    • Thanks for leaving me this comment. It’s always great to get feedback on posts as the comments indicate reader interest and the usefulness of the information in the posts. Happy optimizing.

    • Your blog has a PageRank of 4. It’s a personal blog containing posts on a wide range of subject matter. Consequently, it seems the reciprocal links to other personal blogs can be considered related.

  11. I am very satisfied by reading this, ‘TimeThief’ and wonders did you write a post regarding “.gov/.edu” blogs? I’ve seen many people recommending accquiring back links from such domains but I always wonder about the ‘relevancy’ so may be you hightlight on this in a future post in case you already haven’t?

    I myself -as usual- concentrate on the ‘quality’ of the blog regardless anything else like “PageRank” or “DoFollow” or “CommentLuv” ..etc.

    • @hicham
      I’m afraid I won’t be able to help much in that regard. The sites you mention do give backlinks by citing high quality educational articles as authoritative sources, provided the articles have original content. There are so many blogs that contain only second hand and those do not get backlinks from the sites you mention.

  12. Hello, Time thief, I am so glad I subscribed to your site when T3CK guy wrote about all the great info you supply. I’m no geek so between T3CK dude and you I am learning a lot whenever I visit–some of which is over my head but stuff like this post–this makes perfect sense to me. Thanks.

    • Hello there. I’m delighted to hear you read the post and understood the content. I have found some bloggers are resistant to learning basic SEO and are also loathe to give up their mile long Blogrolls with links to unrelated sites. However, I’m happy to say they are a minority.

      T3CK is a good friend who does a great job moderating the wp.com forum. That’s where I met him back in the days when I practically lived there. In fact answering over 7,000 questions there was what motivated me to have a blogging tips blog.

      Best wishes for developing a cautious and natural approach to linking.

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