How to do SEO a Complete Guide
In 2016, a better approach is to focus on relevant backlinks from real websites.
This will help you avoid penalties and get you the long-term results you desire.
5 Rules For Creating Indestructible Backlinks
If you follow these 5 rules you will watch your site’s organic traffic climb every month.
1. Keep It Relevant
Relevancy is the most important criteria for effective link acquisition.
I have never, repeat never, had a site penalized that had a 100% relevant tier one of backlinks.
Google bases “relevancy” on these three things:
The general content “theme” of the linking domain
The content on the linking page
The relevancy of the backlinks hitting the domain
To see a site’s link relevancy use Majestic’s Topical Trust Flow Topics.
Keep in mind:
Link opportunities that don’t have Topical Trust Flow Topic relevancy can still be valuable.
Make you evaluate your opportunities beyond third party metrics.
If you are having trouble prioritizing link opportunities, then make you read more about Relevancy Pyramids.
2. Let Authority Sites Be Your Friend
The stronger the site, the better the results.
Since Google doesn’t update PageRank anymore, you have to rely on third party metrics.
None of these third party tools are perfect, but they will do the job.
I recommend you analyze opportunities using all available options.
The best link analysis tools are:
Open Site Explorer
If you hate paying monthly fees for these tools, then I recommend you check this out.
3. Focus On Real Websites (With Real Traffic)
Getting backlinks from sites with real traffic is another way to solidify your tier one.
These are the hardest backlinks to get, but are also the most rewarding.
Since you will never know the exact traffic data of a site without getting in their analytics, you will need to use SEM Rush.
4. Distribute Your Anchor Text Intelligently
Distributing your backlink anchor text recklessly can hurt you twofold.
First, wrong anchor text distribution will inhibit your site from ranking. Last and most important, aggressive anchor text can land you a penalty.
As a general rule of thumb aim to keep your exact match anchor text below 1%.
The majority of your anchor text should be branded or naked link anchors.
Click the link above to learn all you need to know about anchor text.
5. Let Your Backlinks Live in Clean Neighborhoods
Focus your efforts on getting backlinks from sites that have high standards.
If they are linking out to “scammy” industries, then you do not want your link to live there.
Examine every prospective website and ask:
What are they linking out to?
Are the outbound links relevant?
Are the outbound links going to respected, trusted sites?
If you see “viagra” or “gambling” or anything of that nature, then avoid that website.
You now know what a squeaky clean link profile looks like.
Now let me explain what backlinks you should NEVER use on tier one.
Avoid These Backlinks on Tier One
There are certain backlinks that should never touch your site.
If you decide to use these backlinks, just know that your risk for a penalty is much greater.
I have seen websites get penalties for using these backlinks.
I’m telling you that because I don’t want you to think I’m guessing.
It is a FACT that these backlinks can land you a manual or algorithmic penalty.
(Almost) Everything That’s Irrelevant
Your tier one should be a wall of relevancy surrounding your site. I said “almost” every link should be relevant because there are some situations when pure relevancy isn’t a must.
More on this in a second.
You can go on almost any SEO forum and buy backlinks on public networks. These networks will often advertise their service as “private blog networks”. But that’s a lie.
Once you are advertising a network, it is no longer private.
Throughout Google’s short history, it has gone out of its way to smash public networks. After that, they go out and destroy every website that is using these networks.
It’s easy for Google to spot these networks because:
A) there are an excessive amount of outbound links (typically 25-50+) on the homepage: homepages on REAL websites don’t have a ridiculous amount of outbound links on the homepage.
B) the outbound links are completely irrelevant to each other: there will be links going to gambling sites, SEO sites, fitness sites, etc. It doesn’t make any sense.
C) the content for each post is thin (only 250-300 words): Google’s Panda algorithm hates thin content.
D) you can run, but you can’t hide: some networks will attempt to block Ahrefs and Majestic crawlers, but its actually a footprint. On the other hand, networks that don’t block crawlers will likely get reported to Google because of an angry competitor. It’s a lose-lose situation.
DoFollow Blog Comments
These are some of the cheapest backlinks you can buy. They are also the perfect recipe for landing a penalty.
Large amounts of outbound links + irrelevant links + outbound links going to “bad neighborhoods” (gambling, pharma, porn, etc.) = a toxic backlink
Remember link building rule #5?
You don’t want your link to live in this environment.
Sidebar, Footer Backlinks
I’ll admit that sidebar and footer backlinks can work, but they are also risky.
Standalone links look like paid backlinks and you know how Google feels about those.
Vendors that sell these backlinks are also selling them to other websites. Most of these website will be irrelevant to yours. That’s because these vendors rarely turn down money.
As a reminder:
You don’t want your link to live with irrelevant or “bad neighborhood” links.
One more important note about sidebar/footer backlinks:
These links are almost always sitewide links.
This can destroy your site if you are using a keyword-rich anchor text.
It will wreck your anchor text profile.
I know web designers, marketing companies, and web hosting companies love footer backlinks.
So, if you do decide to use them, I recommend you use branded anchor text.
There is one exception to this rule:
If you can manipulate the code so that your link only shows on the homepage (where most of a site authority resides).
If you are using WordPress, you can use this Restrict Widgets plugin.
As a general rule of thumb, you should avoid automated link building tools on tier one.
Some of these softwares include GSA, Ultimate Demon, and SENuke.
These softwares leverage spammed platforms and will likely land your site a penalty.
You now know what links you need to avoid like the plague.
Now let me show you how to preserve your site’s authority.
4 Quick Wins to Grow Your Site’s Authority
Before I jump into “Foundational” backlinks, I want to show you how to boost your site’s authority. Remember, the purpose of link acquisition to build the authority of your site.
The more authoritative your site is, the easier it is to rank for keywords.
1. Fix Broken External Links
Remember, every external link you place on your site leaks authority.
That’s why it’s important to audit your site (here’s an SEO audit checklist) to find broken external links.
This applies to both external links in your content and in the comment section.
To find broken links use one or all the following:
Screaming Frog SEO Spider
Google Search Console
2. Reclaim Lost Link Juice (404 Link Reclamation)
404 link reclamation is at the top of the list because it is the easiest.
To find all 404 errors on your site use Google Search Console or Screaming Frog.
If you find 404 errors, run the pages through a bulk check on Ahrefs or Majestic.
I recommend doing both just in case you miss some links.
When you find pages with link equity, you must 301 redirect them to a relevant page on the site or to your homepage.
3. Find and Fix Redirect Chains
Sometimes the most obvious solutions are right in front of your face. Redirect chains are another simple problem that can boost your site’s authority once fixed.
By fixing a redirect chain you will send authority/link equity directly to the page.
That is more effective than making the link equity pass through a buffer.
Use Screaming Frog SEO Spider to find redirect chains.
4. Change 302s to 301s
302s redirects block authority flow and could be stealing authority from your site. Identify all 302 redirects on and off your site, and change them to 301s. Once again, use Screaming Frog to find 302s.
You now know how to improve your site’s authority without building new backlinks.
Now it’s time to learn how to build foundational backlinks.
How to Build “Foundational” Backlinks
“Foundational” backlinks improve your site’s TrustRank.
The more “trustworthy” your site is, the better you will perform in the search engines.
The Foundational backlinks will create a layer of trust around your site. That’s because you will be using nothing but unoptimized, branded backlinks on authority sites.
We use this exact approach with every client we take on and it works extremely well.
You should only use naked link or branded anchors for foundational backlinks.
The first thing you need to do is secure all your social media properties.
At the very minimum, your business should have:
Google + (Personal & Business)
LinkedIn (Personal & Business)
You don’t have to actively market on these platforms, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.
For example, for India SEO, my social media manager decided that Facebook was our best social media platform based on referral traffic and engagement.
That’s why we are “all-in” on Facebook and not as active on the other platforms.
Choose what platforms work best for your business.
At the minimum, populate these accounts and share some content, so that you at least have a base.
Click To Download 300 + Sites For Securing Your Brand
Google values business listings so much that it is apart of the local search algorithm.
This should be more than enough for you to use them for ANY SEO campaign.
The cool part about listings is that about 50% of them give you a DoFollow, unoptimized link.
Business citations are a perfect way to build a foundation of trust around your site.
Remember earlier when I said that not all backlinks hitting your site need to be 100% relevant?
I was referring to business listings and social media profiles.
Google trusts these platforms and is well aware that all types of businesses will be using them.
In a sense, they get a pass for not being relevant.
Make sure you check out our citation building service if you don’t want to waste your time building citations.
While most directories are pretty much worthless, there are some diamonds in the rough.
Niche-targeted directories offer both a relevant and DoFollow link.
As you know, backlinks with both of these characteristics are hard to come by.
Use these search strings in Google to find niche directories:
NICHE + Directory (Example: “fitness + directory”)
NICHE + “submit site”
Geo-targeted directories are a must-have link source for local businesses.
Here are some search strings you can use to find geo-targeted directories:
city + directory
directory + city
submit my site + city
niche + city + directory
city + directories
Niche Relevant Blog Comments
I’m always amazed why so many SEOs skip out on niche relevant blog comments. Too many SEOs neglect them because of the dreaded “NoFollow” tag.
I highly recommend you don’t neglect them.
My agency uses niche relevant blog comments to:
A) create a layer of relevancy around our client’s site
B) improve to the ratio of DoFollow and NoFollow backlinks
C) diversify our anchors in a meaningful way
D) sometimes get small amounts of referral traffic
Niche Relevant Guest Posts
Guest posts are effective in two ways. First, if you contribute lots of value, it will build your authority in the space. Second, your guest post can send relevant referral traffic to your website.
Keep in mind that Google frowns upon spammy guest posting. That means you need to focus your efforts on producing a valuable guest post. If you give value, then there is nothing wrong with injecting backlinks to your site.
To get the most out of your guest posts, you need to get contextual links. Contextual links are far more powerful than author byline links.
That’s the cool thing about our blogger outreach service. Since we write the content in a ghost writing format, we place your links within the meat of the article. That way, it looks like a genuine recommendation for your website.
Click here to read more about our blogger outreach service.
If you want to DIY it up, then use these search queries to find opportunities:
NICHE + “guest post”
NICHE + “contribute to”
NICHE + “write for us”
NICHE + “contributors”
NICHE + “guest writer”
NICHE + “guest post guidelines”
The Merger Technique
The Merger Technique is the process of finding a relevant expired domain and 301 redirecting it to your site.
The concept is simple:
You just acquired a relevant business and want to redirect to your mother company.
The key is for the expired domain to be 100% relevant.
These domains are harder to come by, but it is well worth it when you find one.
This is an oldie, but a goodie.
Although SEO’s have abused this strategy, there are still some diamonds in the rough.
Once you find the pages, it’s best to see if there are any broken links on the page.
Use the Check My Link plugin.
You can use this as leverage when reaching out.
If there are no broken links, then you will need a strong content asset. Otherwise, you will likely get denied.
The White Alternative to PBNs
You already know about the White Hat Alternative to PBNs, but I explain it here as well.
Instead of buying an expired domain and rebuilding it, you are going to:
find an expired domain
scrape its backlinks
You will then reach out and let the linkers know they are looking to a dead resource.
If the expired domain is relevant, you can ask the linker to replace the dead link with your site.
To improve your success rate, suggest 2-3 quality resources (including yours).
You can also recreate the original content if it’s relevant. This is obvious, but the content must better than the original.
Reach out and let the linker know about the new, revised piece of content.
This strategy requires more time and effort, but you get more link placements.
Grey Hat Backlinks
I stay away from grey hat techniques at this point, but I did live in this world for a long time.
NOTE: if you take the grey hat route, you are increasing the likelihood of getting a penalty.
None of these tactics are safe and I have seen websites get manual penalties using each of them.
If there is so much risk, then why am I showing you?
The reason is because many of these techniques work well.
These techniques are best for people:
- Who have a high risk tolerance
- Who want to rank without creating great content
- Who don’t care if their site gets penalized
If you have a low risk tolerance then you have two options:
A) avoid these backlinks altogether or B) use them on tier two to boost your tier one backlinks.
Leverage Relevant Expired Domains
If you are going to create a PBN, then you might as well do it right.
Don’t just buy any expired domain.
Try to find domains that have relevant Topical Trust Flow Topics to your niche.
This won’t always be possible, but it’s worth the patience.
Getting a link from one relevant domain is more powerful than several irrelevant domains.
Here are my favorite tools for finding expired domains:
Some other options include: ExpiredDomains.net and Moonsy.
Creating web 2.0s on sites like Tumblr, Weebly, and WordPress.com is an old grey hat strategy that still works. Just be careful because it can land you a penalty. I have gotten manual actions removed from clients because of web 2.0 backlinks.
I recommend you avoid using these backlinks on tier one.