Link building is part science and part art.
It has technical components and elements that require knowledge and niche expertise.
Link building also has a creative side to it. In this regard, it’s important to understand the way the marketplace is shifting and respond in the ways that best reflect your brand’s style and direction.
In many ways, link building is a lot like investing in the stock market. You pour a lot of your resources into it and you hope for the best.
Just like you don’t expect the stock market to crash, you don’t anticipate your link building efforts to come back empty. Yet there’s always the chance that they could.
In this article, we’re going to walk you through both the why of diversifying your link portfolio, as well as the how.
By the end of the post, you should have a better idea of what works and how you can diversify your own approach to achieve your brand’s desired outcomes.
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.
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:
Sounds 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,
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 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.