The Why's Behind Some Aspects Of Link Building

Jul 20th

I recently got an email from a woman who had been reading through the link building articles here on SEOBook, she was new to the community and SEO in general and had questions she was shy about asking in our forum.   I’ve answered her directly but thought her questions were good and commonly asked so I wanted to share my responses in case someone else would benefit.

While I know her first name, I don't know what industry she is in or the name of her site so my answers will be given in general. Here's the first one::

Question: I’m trying to learn about link building and am going to try an article content creation tool. Where should I put my articles - can I put multiple articles on one blog site and each will act as a link or does only one article per blog website count as a link?  .

Before I answer, I thought I'd provide some background information on a couple of key concepts as they relate to the question and linking in general.

Writing articles is a common and basic link building method; most articles are between 400 - 700 words and use a couple keyword terms in the copy.  Articles created by automated content tools don't win Pulitzer prizes and aren't meant to; they're written and dropped as a way to secure a lot links which hopefully pass link popularity or "link juice".  Overall the tactic still works but works best when the content is dropped on "quality" pages.

What's a quality page?  In a nutshell it's a page ranking well for certain keyword phrases, has some age behind it and an active social profile.  Pages rank for a number of reasons, suffice to say if it's ranking well, it's doing something right and is a good place to secure links from. It's hard to definitely say the social aspect of things causes’ great algorithmic impact but my sense is this issue is being given more weight than we’re being told; it's just damn hard to prove. Plus, from a traffic and exposure point social can be huge; a site/blog with an active Twitter/Facebook presence is an asset, and one that can work to your advantage.

If you're using article marketing and content creation tools as a way to attract links, you're probably not going to create the type of content quality sites want to host.  The type of content those tools spit out tend to end up on low-quality blogs and/or in article directories, neither has much algorithmic weight behind them so you don't get the link popularity or content citations you're vying for.  Why?  To understand the "why" behind the question, we need to understand what link popularity is and how it's used to influence the way your pages rank.

Link Popularity

In its basic form, link popularity is comprised of three components and one influencing factor:  link quantity, link quality, relevance and anchor text.

  • Link quantity - the number of links pointing to a specific webpage.   Having lots of links is a good thing. :)
  • Link quality - quality is determined by the authority of the host pages/sites and the pages/sites linking to them.  Quality flows from one page to the next through links.  Most people know this factor as PageRank, (TrustRank for Yahoo and not sure what Bing calls it)
  • Anchor text - this is the clickable part of the link you see, it's a query ranking indicator and an endorsement, it tells both humans and bots what is about to come.  Anchors using keyword phrases provide additional "weight" and carry semantic value,  Google doesn't spell out much for us when it comes to the importance of ranking influences but they have in the case of anchor text:

"Anchor text influences the queries your site ranks for in the search results."

While the comment above was made in 2007 and recent events might make it seem like anchors are no longer a key ranking component that just isn't the case.   Anchor text itself is the not problem when it comes to poor rankings, aggressive webmasters are.  It's not smart to use the same anchor over and over, it never has been.   From a marketing and SEO standpoint it's best to use a wide range of anchors and to use them sparingly.  If it doesn't make sense to hyperlink a keyword phrase in your content - don't.   Nothing says "SEO article here" like multiple hyperlinked keyword anchors in the middle that lead to the same page or pages that don't support the conversation.

Make your content and your anchors conversational, if it makes sense to link out, do it.  There's nothing wrong with hyperlinking a "click here" or "for more information" in the body of your copy, it helps with the flow of information and to mix up your anchors.

Relevance

Links to and from contextually relevant or thematically related sites/pages are supposed to convey more authority, relevance helps establish where you belong topically and/or geographically.  You don't have to get links from pages in your keyword niches but it helps.  Why?  From an editorial standpoint, webmasters in the same/ancillary areas are more likely to link to other webmasters or pages that support their content.  Like attracts like, the concept is the same here.

The relevance component can be a key factor in the phenomena known as "negative SEO". If you're not familiar with the issue, read here and if you are, you know how easy it can be to have this happen to you.  If you've always linked along in your topical and/or geographic niche and someone comes at you with tons of off topic backlinks, being able to fight back/defend your link history becomes easier.  Stick to getting links from pages your demographic frequents and follow your history patterns.

Now that we have the link popularity explanations and support information out of the way, let's go back to the original question:

Question:  Where should I put my articles - can I put multiple articles on one blog site and each will act as a link or does only one article per blog website count as a link?

Link building is less about what you do, and more about where you do it.  Ideally you want to find:

  • a lot of pages (link quantity)
  • with high visible PageRank scores (link quality)
  • using keyword anchors (anchor text) 
  • on topically or geographically relevant pages (relevance) ranking well.

Sound familiar?  Problem is, hitting all four points is not easy, even for a seasoned linker.  There is a very high probability quality blogs won't take basic/respun/or tool generated content, they have reputations and readership to satisfy.  You'll have to go to a blog with a less discriminating palate and offer your content.  As long as the blog and your post are in the index, you will receive some measure of link popularity but less than what you'd get from a well ranked topical blog.  In link building, the ultimate goal is to get your links on pages ranking well for whatever terms you are targeting.  Simple in theory, not so easy in reality so always strive to hit as many of the four link pop factors outlined for maximum results.

There's nothing wrong with hosting multiple articles on the same site or blog but it's never a good idea to put too many link eggs in one blog basket.  Spread the wealth, preferably on blogs within your area. You will have a wider audience and expand your link and social graph which works to help you algorithmically.

Next question:

2) In which way should I spread my created articles across blog websites - am I correct in thinking duplicate use of article is a bad thing - each one should be unique?

If you have the time and resources to develop unique articles, that is your best course of action.  If you don't, reusing content is fine as long as it's different enough that anyone reading it won't be able to quote a sentence verbatim. The engines frown on content spread around for ranking purposes, Google has a page on this subject here.  To be safe, freshen up your content with new material each time you drop it, include new images and video, change up the anchors and where they point.

3) Do keywords through an article's/blog's text (on a blog site not the promoted website)have any impact for link building or do only the keywords I attach to the posting matter?

To be honest, I’m not 100% clear on what this question is asking so I’ll answer about the impact a keyword anchor has when sitting on someone else’s page.

Words on a blog/site are considered content, even if the words are hyperlinked.  Your keyword anchor is content for the page it sits on and also a query indicator for the page it points to.  The page the link points to gets the bigger ranking bang because the query indicator is more important to the ranking process. If you hyperlink “click here” instead of using a keyword rich phrase, you lose the influence for the keyword but the engine will still follow the hyperlinks and make the connection between the pages.   It’s highly probable the term “click here” is seen as frivolous content on the site and does not add to the relevance factor.

Even though a lot of people feel anchors have been devalued lately, I don’t;  I think the dial on the number of times the anchor is used and how it’s used has been turned up. Way up.

Use all of your terms and their variations along with company and surnames, hyperlink verbs and call to action phrases so you motivate people to click. Above all, hyperlink words in a sentence when it makes sense and then link to content that reinforces what you’re saying.  Link to off topic content too many times and people stop clicking and reading. 

Anchors and on-page content are not the only ranking influences an engine uses, they each have multiple factors which include social and user-interactions. It’s best to use a wide range of tactics when you link and keep the four points of link popularity in mind as you work.  While it is best to try and link between two topically or geographically related pages to reinforce your intent, unrelated linking won't hurt, it just doesn't help as much.

Thanks for submitting your questions Laura, hope this helps :)


Debra Mastaler is a long time link building & publicity expert who has trained clients for over a decade at Alliance-Link. She is the link building moderator of our SEO Community & can be found on Twitter @DebraMastaler.

Published: July 20, 2012

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Comments

July 21, 2012 - 10:54am

Fully agree it's best to use a wide range of tactics. Google regularly debunks single types of ranking systems. Don't put all your links in one basket!

July 23, 2012 - 4:58pm

Excellent article, Debra, and thoroughly agree with this:

"... reusing content is fine as long as it's different enough that anyone reading it won't be able to quote a sentence verbatim."

We've published about the same topic -- small business -- for 9 years, with some 10,000 articles over several sites. Unless it's true news (like a new product or a company being acquired), it's hard to find anything "small business" that we haven't published about in some way before.

Yet, a good creative writer always finds something different to say:

- some special insight that just 'pops',
- some example that no one else has used that causes the message to drive home with clarity,
- some new and different take on the topic.

I've seen the same person write about the same general topic dozens of time. Yet each time it comes across as new and different -- because the person brings a slightly different twist to the message. or approaches it from a different angle.

- Anita

July 24, 2012 - 1:20am

Coming at something from a different angle is key when you're reusing content! My favorite "angle" is to incorporate current and historical events and republish the content under a new title during an anniversary or seasonal time period. Attracts links every time!

@stevehamlin77 Using a wide array of tactics helps spread your site around into different niches and areas, that is always a good thing. Thanks for your comment.

July 25, 2012 - 7:23am

Totally agree with your article.

July 30, 2012 - 11:44am

That's some really great advice, especially for those new to link building. I'd add that one of the best ways to get links through content is with guest blogging - but always use unique, good quality content. It's possible to use copy writing services and article spinners for article submissions although this is a little black hat and the links you get will be much lower quality.

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