It’s a well-known fact that Google is always watching.
They’re constantly monitoring your website, looking for signals that tell them how popular and trustworthy your site is. One of the ways they do this is by looking at your link profile.
Your link profile is a collection of all the links pointing to your website. Google uses this information to help them understand how other people view your site. The more high-quality links your site has, the more Google considers it high-value.
However, building backlinks isn’t always easy. It can be time-consuming and expensive, and there’s no guarantee that your efforts will pay off.
That explains why some people opt to buy backlinks. By paying for links from high-quality websites, they can boost their link profile without naturally putting in the time and effort required to earn the links.
Of course, this isn’t always a good idea. Buying backlinks can be risky, and it’s often considered a black hat SEO tactic.
If Google gets a whiff of it, they could get you penalized.
So, what’s the best way to improve your link profile? The answer is: it depends.
But essentially, you have to keep a clean backlink profile with a healthy mix of do follow and no follow links.
Focus on building relationships with other websites in your niche. By guest posting, participating in forums, and generally being active in your community, you can earn valuable backlinks that will help improve your link profile.
So, how do you do it?
What’s a Backlink Footprint?
There’s a lot of talk about “backlink footprints” these days. In short, this is the footprint that your backlinks leave behind.
By looking at your backlink footprint, Google can get an idea of what your backlinks are about and whether or not they’re coming from high-quality websites.
To avoid leaving a negative footprint, you must be careful about the backlinks you’re building. Guest posting on low-quality websites, for example, is a sure-fire way to leave a bad footprint.
Before you start guest posting, take the time to research the website you’re thinking of contributing to.
Make sure it’s in good standing with Google and its link profile is clean.
In short, its backlink profile should reflect well on you. If it doesn’t, it could hurt your website’s ranking on Google.
Why Keeping a Clean Link Profile Matter?
A clean link profile is important for several reasons:
Avoiding Google Penalties: Keeping a clean link profile is important because it helps avoid penalties from Google. If your link profile is filled with low-quality links, it will send a red flag to Google, and you could be penalized.
There are two types of penalties you could incur: manual and algorithmic. A manual penalty is when Google specifically targets your website and removes it temporarily or permanently from the search results.
Usually, this is served after you’ve been caught doing something shady and will be removed after you clean up your act, as pointed out in their message.
An algorithmic penalty is when your website is removed from the search results because Google’s algorithm has determined that it’s not up to par. Several things, including low-quality links, could trigger this type of penalty.
Improving Your Brand Reputation: Besides avoiding penalties, keeping a clean link profile is crucial for improving your brand reputation.
Links from high-quality websites help improve your reputation, while links from low-quality websites can hurt it. If you’re known for having a lot of low-quality backlinks, people will also view your website as low-quality.
That could dissuade people from doing business with you or linking to your website.
Maintaining a High Search Engine Ranking: The effort you put into building a clean link profile will reflect on your website’s search engine ranking.
Google looks at the quality of your backlinks when determining where to rank your website in the search results. If you have a lot of high-quality backlinks, you’re more likely to rank higher than someone with lots of low-quality backlinks.
The keyword here is quality. It’s not about the number of backlinks you have but the quality of those links.
21 Ways to Keep Your Link Footprint Clean Of Google
1. Start with an Overarching Backlink Strategy
Everything you do concerning your backlink profile should be part of a greater strategy. And most importantly, the overarching strategy must align with your business goals and objectives.
Before you create your first post or article, you must ensure you have a clear idea of what you want to accomplish and how you will go about it.
Your strategy might be something like this:
“I want to increase brand awareness and build trust with my target audience by writing guest posts on relevant, high-quality websites.”
With this goal in mind, you can create a list of websites you’d like to guest post.
Remember that not all websites will be a good fit for you. In addition to being relevant, the website should also have a good reputation and a clean link profile.
You can use a tool like Moz’s Open Site Explorer or Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to check a website’s link profile and see if it’s clean.
Here are some of the things you should clarify early on before starting your link-building campaign:
- The type of links you want to build (e.g., guest posts, resource pages, etc.)
- The type of websites you want to get links from (e.g., high-quality, relevant websites)
- How many links do you want to build each month
- Your budget for link building
- The timeframe in which you want to achieve your goals
- Who will be responsible for each task
- What methods you’ll use to track your progress
You want to plan and stick to a schedule as much as possible, but be prepared to be flexible.
Things won’t always go according to plan, and you might need to make some adjustments along the way.
But having a plan and knowing what you want to achieve will help keep you on track and focused on your goals.
2. Start Slowly and Build Your Way Up
If you’re new to link building, it’s best to start slow and gradually increase your activity.
Don’t try to build too many links too quickly. Not only is this unnatural, but it can also lead to penalties from Google.
Some of the things you can do to get started include:
- Write guest posts for other websites
- Submit articles to directories
- Include links to your website in your forum signatures
- Reach out to bloggers and ask them to link to your website
Over time, you can scale up your activities and start pursuing more aggressive link-building tactics. But it’s important to walk before you run.
3. Focus on Quality Over Quantity
When it comes to backlinks, quality takes precedence over quantity.
It’s better to have a few high-quality backlinks than thousands of low-quality ones.
Google looks at the quality of your backlinks when determining where to rank your website in the search results.
One high-quality backlink is worth more than a hundred low-quality ones.
Some of the things that Google looks at when assessing the quality of a backlink include:
- The relevance of the linking website
- The authority of the linking website
- The number of other links on the linking page
- The quality of the anchor text
- Whether or not the link is a follow link
- Whether a well-written and informative article houses the link
- Whether or not the link is from a website in the same country as your own
These factors influence how much weight Google gives to a particular backlink.
So when you’re building links, make sure you’re focusing on quality over quantity.
Check each website’s link profile before you agree to guest posts, and only pursue links from websites with a clean link profile.
4. Diversify Your Link Building Activities
When building links, it’s essential to diversify your activities.
Don’t just focus on one or two link-building tactics. Instead, try to mix things up and use a variety of techniques.
Some of the things you can do to diversify your link-building activities include:
- Write guest posts
- Submit articles to directories
- Include links in your forum signatures
- Reach out to bloggers and ask for links
- Participate in online communities
- Submit press releases
- Create infographics
- Host webinars
The more diverse your link-building activities are, the better.
Not only will this help you avoid penalties from Google, but it will also give you a better chance of getting high-quality backlinks.
5. Keep Your Links Relevant
Link relevancy is important for two reasons:
- It helps Google understand what your website is about.
- It helps improve the quality of your backlink profile.
Be selective about the websites you link to.
You only want to link to websites relevant to your niche or industry.
And when adding links to your website, ensure they’re placed in context and surrounded by relevant content.
Doing this will help Google understand what your website is about, and it will also give your backlinks more weight.
6. Keep Your Link Relevant to the Reader
In addition to being relevant to your website, your links should also be relevant to the reader.
Don’t try to cram too many links into your content.
And don’t add links just for the sake of adding them.
Only add links when they’re genuinely helpful and relevant to the reader.
If you do this, your links will be more likely to get clicked and carry more weight with Google.
The idea is simple: if you’re providing value to the reader, they’re more likely to return the favour by clicking on the link.
When readers encounter your link, they should find it jarring enough to stop what they’re doing and click on it.
Google can tell by just looking at the number of clicks your links get, and whether or not they’re relevant to the reader. And the more clicks your links get, the more weight they carry.
7. Keep Your Links Fresh
Link decay is real, and it’s a problem that you need to be well aware of.
Over time, links will naturally start to degrade in quality.
That happens for a variety of reasons, including:
- The linking website changes its URL structure
- The linking website goes out of business
- The linking website stops linking to your website
- To combat link decay, you need to keep your links fresh.
The best way to do this is to [periodically] check your backlinks and ensure they’re still working.
If you notice any links that are no longer working, reach out to the website owner and ask them to update the link.
It would help if you kept an eye on your competitor’s backlinks. If they’re getting new backlinks, there’s a good chance you can too.
8. Avoid Recycling Publishers
Just because a publisher was kind enough to publish your guest post doesn’t mean you can keep submitting new content to them indefinitely.
At some point, you need to move on and find other publishers.
You can only milk so much traffic from a single website.
While this isn’t necessarily bad, it can lead to link decay if you’re not careful.
You also don’t want to abuse your relationships with publishers.
Guest posting should be a two-way street where both parties benefit.
Each successive link should be better than the last.
And if you’re not providing value, you will not get published.
9. Optimize Your Anchor Text
Anchor text optimization (ATO) is optimizing your anchor text to improve your search engine rankings.
ATO is a complex topic, but there are a few simple things you can do to get started.
First, vary your anchor text.
Don’t use the same anchor text over and over again. That will look unnatural to Google, and it will also hurt your rankings.
Instead, use a variety of different anchor texts, including:
- Branded keywords
- Keywords related to your niche
- Generic keywords
- Naked URLs
Second, use keyword-rich anchor text sparingly.
Keyword-rich anchor text is still an important ranking factor. But if you use it too much, it will look spammy to Google, and you’ll be penalized.
So, use it sparingly and ensure the rest of your anchor text is varied.
Here’s an article you want to read to learn more about ATO:
10. Link to Different Internal Pages
How you distribute your links also matters.
If you only link to your home page, you’re not getting the most value from your links.
Instead, you want to link to a variety of different internal pages.
That will help spread the link equity around and help users find the information they’re looking for more easily.
To do this, you must be strategic about where you place your links.
Don’t just link to any old page — link to the pages most relevant to the context of the article.
For example, if you’re writing a guest post about SEO, you would want to link to your blog post about SEO tips.
If you’re writing a guest post about social media marketing, you want to link to a blog post about the best social media platforms for business.
#11. Vary the Length of the Content You Write
The length of the content you also write matters.
If all of your guest posts are 1,000 words or longer, with an almost identical format, it’s going to look like you’re trying to game the system.
You want to vary the length of the content you write.
Some guest posts can be shorter, around 500 words. Others can be longer, around 1,500 words.
And don’t forget those super-long guest posts, around 2,000 words or more.
These can be really effective, but they’re also a lot of work. So make sure you have the time to write them before you commit to anything.
12. Don’t Cram the Links in One Place
Link placement is also important.
If you stuff all of your links into the middle of your guest post, it will look spammy.
So, be sure to vary the location of your links.
Some can be in the beginning, others in the middle, and others at the end.
And don’t forget about those sidebar links.
You can also place a link in your author bio (preferably, the homepage link).
13. Don’t Forget about Nofollow Links
Nofollow links don’t have any SEO value.
But they’re still important because they can drive traffic to your website.
They also make your link profile look more natural.
And if you’re lucky, you might even get a few dofollow links from nofollow links.
So don’t forget about them when you’re building links.
If anything, you should try to get a mix of nofollow and dofollow links.
14. Link to Other Authority Sites
The links coming in should just be as much of a focus as the links going out.
One easy way to make your link profile look more natural is to link to other authority sites.
That will improve the quality of your link profile and help you build relationships with other bloggers in your niche.
Look for opportunities to link to other authority sites in your articles. When you come across a relevant article, link to it.
15. Use Different Author Names
You don’t want to use the same author’s name for all of your guest posts.
The idea is that each guest post comes from a different person.
To make this work, you might need to have more than one author name to use.
You can also use a pen name to keep your identity hidden.
That is perfectly fine, and it’s actually quite common.
Note that Google is very good at recognizing patterns. So if you use the same author name for all your guest posts, it will look suspicious.
16. Vary the Number of Links You Build
Google is a master of identifying patterns.
So, if you’ve always built three links weekly, Google will catch on.
So, try to vary the number of links you build.
Some weeks you might build two links. Others, you might build four or five.
And then there will be weeks where you don’t build any links.
That will make your link building look more natural and less likely to place you under Google’s microscope.
17. Leverage Seasonal Trends
You can also take advantage of seasonal trends when you’re guest posting.
For example, if you run a home-cleaning business, you might want to write a guest post about spring cleaning tips in the spring.
Or, if you sell winter clothing, you might want to write a guest post about how to stay warm in the winter.
You can even write a guest post about New Year’s resolutions if you run a health and fitness business.
The possibilities are endless.
The key is to be creative and to think outside the box.
There are always opportunities to leverage seasonal trends in your guest posts.
All you have to do is look for them.
18. Avoid Link Schemes Like the Plaque
In 2012, Google launched the Penguin update to crack down on link schemes.
Link schemes are any tactic used to inflate your link popularity artificially.
Some examples of link schemes include:
- Buying links
- Selling links
- Exchanging links with other websites solely to cross-link
- Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
- Building links to your website from low-quality directories or bookmarking sites
If you’re caught using any of these tactics, you’ll be penalised by Google.
So, instead of building links using link schemes, focus on creating partnerships, press releases, collaboration opportunities, and other creative ways to get links.
There are plenty of opportunities to get high-quality links without resorting to link schemes.
19. Avoid PBNs Like Leprosy
Private blog networks (PBNs) are a popular link-building tactic.
A PBN is a network of websites used to build links to your money site.
PBNs are popular because they’re an easy way to get high-quality links.
But they’re also risky.
If Google finds out that you’re using a PBN, you’ll be penalized.
So, instead of using a PBN to build links, focus on other link-building tactics like guest posting, press releases, and creating partnerships.
There are plenty of opportunities to get high-quality links without resorting to PBNs.
20. Always Be on the Lookout for Link Opportunities
The best way to build links is to always be on the lookout for link opportunities.
You never know when you might come across a guest posting opportunity, a press release, or a partnership opportunity.
So, it’s essential to keep your eyes peeled and to seize any opportunity that comes your way.
The more link opportunities you take advantage of, the more links you build, and the more your link profile improves.
21. Thoroughly Vet Any Link Opportunity
Not all link opportunities are created equal.
Some are better than others.
So, it’s important to vet any link opportunity before you take advantage of it.
Here are a few things to look for:
- The quality of the website: Is the website high-quality? Does it have a good reputation?
- The quality of the content: Is the content well-written? Does it provide value?
- The quality of the link: Is the link a do-follow link? Do other high-quality links surround it?
If you’re unsure whether a link opportunity is good, err on the side of caution and avoid it.
It’s better to err on the side of caution than to risk getting a low-quality link.