In many ways, link building is a lot like investing in the stock market.
Just like investing you don’t expect a diversified stock market portfolio to crash, you wouldn’t anticipate your agency link building efforts to come back empty.
Similarly, the best way to spread your risk is to diversify your backlinks.
By harvesting and creating links in a variety of buckets, you mitigate your risk and increase the upside.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through both the why and how of diversifying your link portfolio, as well as the how.
Ready to jump in?
Playing off the previous illustration, it’s best to view your website as having a link portfolio. And much like you have an investment portfolio for retirement, your website’s link portfolio represents all of its link “holdings.”
If you know anything about investing, you know that it’s risky to have your entire retirement tied up in just one stock. Sure, it gives you massive potential should the stock perform well. But if the stock declines, your entire retirement savings take a hit as well.
Instead, you want to spread your money out. But you don’t want to simply spread your account out over three or four stocks; you want several index funds.
Index funds are mutual funds that contain dozens or hundreds of stocks inside of them. This insulates your retirement portfolio from massive spikes.
Okay, enough retirement talk…this is an SEO blog.
The point is that you want your website’s link portfolio to act much in the same way that your investment portfolio does.
You want as many links as possible coming from as many different websites as possible. And the more diverse these websites are, the better.
If you’re looking for the easiest way to build backlinks, you might not like the concept of diversifying your portfolio. After all, you can generate hundreds or thousands of backlinks per year by simply partnering up with a couple of blogs, writing weekly blog posts for them, and slipping in two or three links every time.
But this approach won’t make Google happy.
You’ll only get so much value. And it could potentially hurt your search rankings if the content looks spammy.
By all means, you can try that approach.
However, we’ve been in this industry for over a decade and know what works.
Spreading out your backlinks is the way to go.
Here are a few reasons why:
Link building is a totally legal practice.
In fact, Google wants websites to build links between one another.
It’s how they’re able to identify authoritative websites and enhance the user experience for searchers. The reason many people are scared of link building is that they’ve only ever seen businesses do it wrong.
Nothing is more artificial or spammy than having a bunch of links coming from one website to another.
If you have 100 backlinks and 96 of them come from a single site, Google – and users – are going to wonder why that’s the case. (And the only logical explanation is that there’s some sort of quid pro quo going on.)
By diversifying your link portfolio, you embrace the good side of link building. You accomplish precisely what Google wants you to do.
A diverse link portfolio looks authentic to both search crawlers and human searchers – because it is! You can fake a portfolio in which you siphon links to your website from one or two other domains. It’s much harder to do that with dozens or hundreds of referring domains.
While you’re probably pursuing backlinks to enhance your SEO profile and rankings, with the ultimate goal of generating organic search traffic, it’s important to remember that backlinks also provide direct referral traffic.
In other words, every backlink you have in someone else’s blog post is a potential magnet for funneling their website visitors into your own website.
When you diversify your link portfolio, you increase the number of roads into your site. This provides a better mix of traffic and gives you different opportunities to grow.
Every new referring domain that points a link back to your website is another “vouch” for your credibility. And the more sources you have vouching for you, the larger your sphere of influence becomes.
If branding is about building trust with as many prospective customers as possible, link building is one of your strongest and most powerful weapons in this fight for exposure and authenticity.
Not all backlinks provide direct visibility for your brand or website. If it’s natural anchor text, the only way someone is going to engage with your brand is if they click the link and head to your website.
However, some backlinks have branded anchor text and/or reference your name somewhere around the link. (This is common when you’re quoted.)
For branded backlinks, there’s a high degree of visibility. People see your name and, whether they do so intentionally or subconsciously, it gets tucked away in their mental inventory. The next time they see your brand on another website, they connect the dots.
More links from more sites means more visibility. It’s as simple as that.
There’s a large portion of the SEO industry that’s constantly trying to trick the Google algorithm. And even those who are doing honest work are always looking for legal ways to take advantage of the system and improve search rankings.
There’s a constant “battle” between Google and the SEO world.
This has led Google to create counter-measures to detect and eliminate anyone who doesn’t play by the rules or who appears to be gaming the system in a way that negatively impacts the search experience for its users.
Over time, Google has shown us that they aren’t afraid to implement sweeping changes to their search algorithms. And any time it happens, we see a lot of blood in the water. Many websites see their rankings drop overnight, while successful SEO companies can go out of business if they don’t adapt.
If all of your links are concentrated on one or two websites – or even a specific type of website or backlink – you’re much more susceptible to being negatively impacted by one of these updates.
Link diversity cuts out some of the risk by diluting your exposure in any one area.
If history has proved anything, it’s that randomness and diversity act as protective shields against Google updates.
Okay, now that we have a firm grip on why link diversification is important, let’s take some time to explore exactly how you can do it.
Here are a few of the places to consider for diverse links:
This is the cream of the crop. If you can get links from high authority websites that are in your niche, you’re doing it right. These are also the hardest links to come by. Think of these links like your entree. You don’t need a bunch of them, so long as you have some good side dishes and desserts.
While high authority sites are the gold standard, there’s still plenty of value to be gleaned from lower authority sites if they’re within your niche. The key here is to go for quantity. One link won’t do much for you. However, a couple of dozen lower authority links will have an impact.
There’s nothing wrong with getting a free backlink from a high authority website outside of your niche. (You take what you can get!) Google considers a backlink from any website with a high domain authority to be a good thing. Just make sure you’re also grabbing links from within your niche to balance it out.
You won’t get much link “juice” from website and blog directories, but they’re worth nabbing. (Why wouldn’t you?) These are easy to grab and they provide you with some super simple links that are free and legal.
Don’t be the guy or gal in blog comment sections peddling your latest blog post. (Nobody likes that person.) However, there’s something to be said for being an active member and commenter on blogs. If you do it enough, you can occasionally slip in a relevant The key words there are “occasionally” and “relevant.”
Most forums aren’t going to give you great backlinks, but they can help generate some traffic for you. Again, you can’t spam and your links need to be relevant. Otherwise, you risk getting banned by the moderator.
Curious about your backlinks and how diverse they are? Use our backlink checker tool to find out now!
All of these diverse link building tactics sound great – now how do you do it?
Here are some suggestions:
Unless your website has a ton of content and already has a high domain authority, you’re not going to be picking up a ton of backlinks organically. (The goal is to eventually reach a point where other bloggers link to you on their own, but that takes time.) So in order to generate backlinks, you must network, network, and network some more.
Join Facebook groups with bloggers and business owners. Be active on LinkedIn. Become a member of mastermind groups and networking coalitions.
The more you network, the easier it becomes to partner with other websites and generate organic backlinks.
Many websites have contributor programs where you can actually join a group and secure the ability to publish content on their site. And in most cases, you’re allowed to include one or two backlinks in your posts.
Contributor programs are awesome because they allow you to secure predictable backlinks over time. However, as we mentioned earlier, you don’t want to overdo it. Having 100 links from one domain doesn’t look good. Space it out and stay natural.
Here’s a cool little secret that you might like.
Try using HARO, which stands for Help a Reporter Out.
It consists of a network of journalists and bloggers who are looking for sources for their stories. You can sign up and connect with these individuals. And if they choose to use you as a source, you might be able to generate a backlink to your website. (If nothing else, it gives you a media mention which can be leveraged as social proof on your website and social media profiles.)
If you’re a full-time business owner, entrepreneur, or freelancer, you probably don’t have an extra five to seven hours per week to dedicate to link building. And that’s okay,
There are actually link building services you can hire to spearhead this strategy for you.
The key is to find white hat companies that follow the rules.
There are a lot of link building services out there that use spammy practices to convince their clients they’re building them a diverse portfolio, when they’re actually just trying to make a quick buck.
Vet your options and choose wisely.
When you find a good company, you’ll be able to build backlinks in a totally hands-off manner.
At SEO.co, we’re outliers.
In an industry filled with agencies that care more about adding clients than serving clients, we’re different.
We don’t cut corners or grab the low hanging fruit just to make ourselves look good.
We perform a complete backlink audit analysis before we jump into building links for clients.
We believe in helping our clients grow their businesses through sustainable white hat SEO & link building strategies.
And a major component of our approach involves helping our clients leverage high-quality content to generate authoritative backlinks that move the SEO needle in a positive direction.
Want to learn more about our link building outreach or content writing services?