This is an update to the article Link Building Best Practices, that I wrote in January 2011.

Let’s start with a brief analogy.

RADAR guns were invented in the 1950’s. They were used effectively by police to monitor speeding motorists.  In the early 1970’s, Dale Smith invented the RADAR detector to alert drivers when their vehicle was being targeted by RADAR. After that, came advances in police RADAR and then RADAR scramblers were invented. Next came Laser speed detectors and then – you guessed it – Laser detectors.  As the police’s technology got better, so did the motorists’.

Let’s Translate.

Google comes up with an algorithm that ranks websites. One of the things they read is how often a keyword appears on a page.  SEOs start stuffing keywords in their websites to rank higher. Google sets a bar for keyword density. SEOs can no longer use keyword stuffing to “speed” to page one. Google uses links to determine a site’s popularity. SEOs figure out links are key to ranking and start building and buying links of all kinds. Google starts devaluing links from link farms and link exchanges. SEOs adjust and start finding other sources for links.

… and the chess game continues.

Google gets smarter every day. They are getting better at sniffing out “link building tricks”. Panda has proven how smart they are.  But SEOs are pretty smart too.  They evaluate the sites that rank and follow their lead.

Here are just a few of the latest strategies regarding link building that may help you with the latest updates from Google.

  • Don’t grow your links too quickly.  Pay attention to your rate of acquisition.  I don’t know what the exact number is, but grow your backlinks a reasonable percentage each month. 100 backlinks to a site with no links at all may have worked perfectly fine a few months ago (and still may), but to be cautious, grow your backlink profile slowly.
  • Diversify the URLs you choose to point your links to. Find strong pages within the site (products/services pages for example) and point some of your links at these.
  • Diversify your anchor text. More than ever, backlink anchor text profiles should be diverse. Having a large percentage of links with the same (or very similar) anchor text could potentially trip a search engine’s filter and devalue the links.
  • Use your brand, business name and URL as anchor text. I like 35% to 50% of your anchor text being brand anchors. (I’ve done some backlink research that shows that sites ranking well have this % of branded backlinks.)

The game is constantly changing. Google likes one thing today and another tomorrow.  If you want your website to rank, you need to understand what they like – and then try to keep up with their ever changing tastes.

What do you think? Is Google getting smarter, and will SEOs be able to keep up? Thanks for reading.