Backlinks remain one of the most important ranking factors to consider in any search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. But link building is a complicated topic.
If you want to acquire backlinks and consistently increase your search rankings, you need to understand how to build links the “right” way. Bad links, spammy links, and/or poorly timed link building may not only minimize your potential results—but actively work against you by earning you a penalty.
One of the most important elements of backlinks acquisition to get down early is backlinks acquisition timing. In other words, how fast and how frequently can you build link’s safely?
In this guide, we’ll teach you how to time your backlink acquisition.
The Basics of Backlink Acquisition
Let’s start with a primer on backlink acquisition, and its role in SEO.
Google determines search rankings based on the relevance and authority of the content it finds in its index. For relevance, it considers the intent behind the user’s query and attempts to find content that serves it. Authority is a bit more complicated.
Google wants to provide users with the most trustworthy results. Accordingly, it evaluates the trustworthiness of each domain and each page with “authority:” domain authority and page authority. The higher the authority, the higher you’ll rank for a relevant query.
Authority largely depends on the number and value of relevant links pointing to your site. The more links you have, and the higher quality those links are, the more authority you’ll gain (and the higher you’ll rank).
Backlinks acquisition is all about earning and building link’s to increase your authority deliberately.
High-Quality Links: Your Top Priority
Of course, it’s not as simple as building as many links as possible as fast as you can. If you do this, you could earn yourself a penalty.
Why? Because Google has a vested interest in weeding out spammy content and search ranking manipulation. If Google detects shady activity, including link spamming or link schemes of any kind, it will penalize your site.
Accordingly, in any backlink acquisitions strategy, quality needs to be your top priority. High-quality link’s, with a high-quality SEO strategy to support them, will ensure that you don’t attract a penalty, and that you see a steady rate of growth over time.
What makes a link high-quality?
Essentially, a link must be contextually relevant, natural, and valuable to end users.
To achieve that, you’ll need to consider:
- Referring domain’s authority. Generally speaking, the higher the domain authority of the referring domains, the more powerful the link is. However, attracting too many links from high-authority sources too early in your referring domains development can also be a problem.
- Referring domain relevance. Google considers the niche of the referring domain’s when determining the nature of the link. If you build link’s from a site whose industry is markedly different than yours in blog comments, it could look spammy or questionable.
- Content quality. These days, the most reliable way to acquire links is to build them into the body of high-quality content—in other words, guest posts on external publication sources. The better your content is, the more natural your links are going to be—and the more value they’re going to add to your strategy.
- Contextual relevance. Your linking website also need to be contextually relevant. In other words, they shouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb in the body of your work. They should also link to a piece of onsite content that has something to do with the referring post. For example, in an article about diminishing attention spans, you might link to a piece that calculates the average user attention span in mobile applications.
- Relationship to other links. Guest posts naturally have many links to other sources. If your post guest posts only has one link, or if it has multiple links to your referring domains, it will seem unnatural. Make sure your post looks like other posts on this publication site.
- Inherent value to user. Though it’s more of a subjective factor, consider the value your links have to the users who encounter them. Will users have an opportunity to learn more about a topic, or see data that validates your point?
- Anchor text relevance. The anchor text of your link should be relevant to both the article at hand and the content it’s linking to. It shouldn’t seem like an unnatural collection of keywords on blog comments.
- Overall link building practices. You also have to think about your overall link building strategy practices. For example, are you linking to many different internal pages of your site? Are you relying on a diversity of different referring domains? Are you using varying forms of keyword rich anchor text?
There are many other factors to consider in the quality of your link building strategies; these are just the basics.
Why Does Timing Matter?
So what does link acquisitions timing have to do with this?
Timing plays a huge role in determining how “natural” your link building strategies efforts appear.
It’s easiest to understand this concept by studying two examples of problematic link building timing:
- Building links too frequently. First, you may build too many links in a given period. It’s not natural for a brand new site to attract several hundred links in its first month of existence.
- Building links too fast. Second, you may build link’s too quickly. It may be reasonable to earn a dozen links in your first month of existence, but if they all appear within the course of an hour, it will raise alarms.
It can be tough to determine how frequently and how fast to build link’s, since different sites will be considered in different ways. A domain with a decade of history and lots of authority can easily get away with building many high-quality link’s a day, while a new domain may get penalized for building a handful of incoming links in a week.
To get the timing right, you’ll need to consider your effective link building strategy across three main stages of development.
Stage 1: The Google Sandbox
The first phase is the Google Sandbox. This is so named because of a supposed probationary period in which news sites are first evaluated by Google.
The idea is simple, though the mechanics behind it are difficult to parse; Google makes it difficult to determine exactly what’s going on in the background. We’ve written a full post about the Google Sandbox (and the debate about whether or not it “truly” exists) if you’re interested in more information.
Here’s the basic concept. When you first launch a site, Google doesn’t have a good sense for the trustworthiness of your site. Even if you have awesome onsite content and a decent set of high quality backlinks, you may not rank as highly as you should. This is Google’s or search engines way of keeping you in a proverbial “sandbox” until it can figure out more about you—and it’s especially common in industries with high levels of keyword competition.
What does this have to do with link building campaign? Well, in the first few months of your domain’s existence, the Sandbox is going to artificially limit how much progress you can make. Additionally, Google may be extra sensitive to activities it deems worthy of penalty; if you build too many links too quickly, you might find it hard to build any kind of reasonable momentum.
Your best bet here is to focus on establishing your site in ways other than traditional link building. Focus on establishing your website and your social media profiles. Earn backlink citations in local directories. Write great content. Maybe build a link here and there, but nothing too aggressive. Save that for the next phase of development.
Stage 2: Building Trust
After a month or two of establishing your domain with citations, social media profiles, traffic, and content development, you can entre the next phase of the links acquisition process with proper link velocity: building trust.
Here, you’ll begin to build your first links. Aim to build one to two links per week to start, and make sure you’re following best practices for quality links building when you do it. You should be utilizing strong content in the form of offsite guest posts and working with the best publishers you can find.
You may also reach out to websites to see if there are any linking opportunities; for example, you may recommend a page on your site as a replacement for a broken link on their site(broken links).
Gradually, you can begin scaling your link building efforts. Pay attention broken links or dead links to how quickly you rank when you publish new content on your site, and how your rankings are climbing overall. When you feel confident that you’re seen as a trustworthy site, you can push to the next phase of the process & enhance link velocity.
Stage 3: Full-Fledged Link Building
The final stage is full-fledged link building. At this point, your domain is mature—it’s well-established and Google finds you trustworthy. Most sites don’t reach this point until several months of trust building have elapsed.
When you get to this point, you can start earning editorial links from publishers with the biggest reputations, like .gov sites, .edu sites, and popular publishers like Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur. These links are extremely powerful, but hard to earn.
Additionally, you can scale up your volume and frequency of link building. As long as you’re following proper quality standards, you can build several links back to your domain every week, and consistently reach out to new publishers for new link building and content development opportunities.
Keys to Success When Timing Your Link Acquisition
If you want to improve your links acquisition timing (and your SEO strategy overall), make sure you follow these general tips across all stages of development:
- Create high-quality onsite content. No matter what kind of link acquisitions timing you’re attempting, you need to start with high-quality onsite content writing. Your onsite content will serve as collateral you can link to; if you have original research, compelling studies, or highly persuasive arguments on your site, it will be easy to work links to those assets in your offsite content. Additionally, if people discover your content naturally, they’ll naturally build their own links to it—a strategy referred to as link earning. Plus, developing good onsite content will boost your authority and make your site seem more trustworthy in Google’s or search engines eyes.
- Prioritize link quality. Timing is still secondary to link quality in importance. It doesn’t matter how well you time your link acquisitions efforts if your links are spammy or contextually irrelevant; you’ll still earn a penalty. Get links quality down first, and then work on timing if you want to be successful.
- Start slowly. Generally, it’s a best practice to start slow. SEO isn’t a race; it’s a long-term strategy that takes months, and sometimes years, to achieve peak ROI. Your first few months demand patience and restraint; when in doubt, err on the side of caution.
- Scale gradually. If you want to continue boosting your authority and your Google search rankings, you need to scale your efforts. But for effective timing, you need to scale gradually. Don’t jump from a low-authority site to a high-authority site overnight. Don’t jump from building 1 link per week to building 10 links per week (link velocity). The more gradual your efforts are, the more natural they’re going to be.
- Measure consistently. Take the time to measure your results consistently. That means employing the help of a backlink profile analysis and studying your growth in terms of both authority and search engine rankings directly. Only via objective measurement and analysis will you have a solid idea of your strategy’s effectiveness.
- Work with an agency. Finally, consider working with an SEO agency. SEO(search engine optimization) agencies have access to full teams of experienced professionals who will work with you to develop and execute the right link building strategy for your business. Don’t try to time your strategy perfectly by yourself when you could have decades of expertise to call upon for advisement.
Following all these rules can be difficult, especially if you don’t have much experience with link building.
And if you don’t have existing relationships with major publishers, acquiring links is even harder.
That’s why SEO.co exists. We’re an SEO and link building agency that can help you get the links you need to rank—and help you time them perfectly to see the best results. Contact us for a free consultation today!
Or scan your backlinks for free using our backlink checker software!
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