Backlinks are arguably the most important factor for getting a website to rank in Google.
However, just because you have links doesn’t mean your website will rank for your target keywords.
The real problem is building backlinks that the search engines love.
Firstly, I’ll be running you through what exactly makes up a “good link profile”, then we’ll cover some example sites with the best link profiles and finally, we’ll wrap it all up in exactly how you can mould your own link profile to supercharge your website’s rankings in Google!
A link profile refers to the collection of backlinks your site has accrued. You may have deliberately linked out to your site, but there is a sizeable portion of links in your profile that were naturally acquired. We’ll get into that later.
For now, you need to understand what it takes to build a “good” link profile.
As mentioned, backlinks in itself won’t help improve your site’s organic ranking.
Not all links are created equal – some are much more powerful than the others. Therefore, by learning how to get these powerful links to your site, you can boost your link profile and compel Google to rank your site above the rest.
Below are the characteristics of great links that make up for a good link profile:
From the onset, you know you have a good link on your profile if the site linking to your is authoritative. And by having lots of good links pointing to your site, your site can get Google’s attention and rank you higher on organic search.
Therefore, you must be able to identify an authoritative site. In doing so, you can focus your attention on getting links from those sites instead. Here are common features of an authoritative site:
Nike, CNN, and other ubiquitous brands are household names for several reasons. They may have launched multiple and expensive campaigns to promote their business to the public.
For link building, however, getting a link from these brands should help your website on organic search.
It would be great to have backlinks, but you won’t be able to get a link from the sites above. Unless you’re friends with the site owner or have connections from the inside, you’re better off chasing after lower-tier brands.
This is where the SEO side of things kick in. There are lots of ways to know if the site is worth getting a link from, even if it doesn’t have the same authority with bigger brands.
One way to determine the quality of a site is by checking its SEO metrics. In particular, we want to see if the site you must link out to has a good link profile too.
Getting a backlink from a site with high-quality links will help your cause as far as moving up the search rankings is concerned.
To check the website’s SEO metrics, login to Ahrefs and run the prospective sites using the Site explorer feature. You’ll see the main metric, DR in the Overview –
The Domain Rating refers to the site’s score according to its link profile. The higher the score, the stronger and more established its link profile is.
Use the metric to identify sites not as authoritative as the popular brands out there but have the power to help increase your site rankings once you gain links from each. Ideally, a DR 30 website is the lowest you ought to consider when building links for your site.
At the same time, the DR is just a guideline you can follow when identifying sites to reach out to for a backlink. It is not advisable to rely on DR (or any other SEO metrics) alone when analysing a site’s link profile.
Another factor that determines an authoritative site is the traffic it gets. Site traffic correlates to its popularity – the higher its traffic, the more popular it is.
However, in this case, we want to look at a site’s organic search traffic. That means we’re looking at the keywords the site is ranking for. We’re not including traffic coming from other channels like social media, email, and others.
Using Ahrefs again, you can see how much traffic a site gets based on the keywords it is ranking for, how many people are searching for the keywords monthly, and the site’s position on SERPs.
From here, we can also determine if a link we’ll be getting from the site is contextually relevant or not. If most of the keywords are related to your site’s niche, then you should strive to gain a link from it.
And by linking to these websites, you help communicate to Google what your site is about and how it interacts with other sites.
For example, if an authoritative food site is linking back to your local bakery, you allow Google to make the connection that your site is about food and baking. As a result, it will show your site to food, and specifically bakery related keywords when local people are searching.
Anchor text refers to the word or phrase used for linking from one site to another.
Ideally, if you’re linking out to your site or page from an authoritative site, you must use its target keyword as the anchor text. For instance, if the keyword for a page is “best mountain bikes under $200,” then the anchor text should be the same. This type is known as exact match anchor text.
Doing so allows Google to associate the anchor text to the page it’s linking to, thus helping it rank for its keyword.
However, using exact match anchor text exclusively for link building will look spammy to Google. And by manipulating your links, your site will be penalised on organic search. It could drop its search rankings for different keywords or no longer appear on SERPs.
Therefore, when building links, make sure to use different types of anchor text. Aside from exact match anchor texts, below are other types you should use in relation to the keyword example above:
A good link profile mixes up the different anchor texts to throw Google off your scent.
Some even have a ratio they follow for using anchor text. Matt Diggity has come up with a solid process on determining the best anchor text ratio for your website based on your competitors.
The goal is to use anchor texts that make the most sense in the page’s context.
Ideally, your links should be as natural as possible. This means that, instead of you reaching out to website owners for a link back to your site, they should be the ones linking to you. You can achieve this by creating great content and link-worthy assets.
The sheer act of link building is against Google guidelines under Link schemes.
Since the goal of acquiring links is to increase your SERP positions for your keywords, everybody getting links unnaturally should be penalised, right?
However, the reality of the situation is site owners engage in link schemes every day and rank on top of Google for a highly searched keyword.
This reason is why you should strive to make your links natural-looking instead. The fact that certain link schemes work means that you can do the same for the sites.
But the important thing is that the links you build should look as natural as possible.
Aside from diversifying the anchor texts you use for your links, below are other ways you can engineer a more organic-looking link profile:
When linking from an authoritative site back to yours, some of its power transfers to your site.
The power is also referred to as link juice or Page Rank. And by building lots of these links, you build enough power to command authority on SERPs.
However, transferring link juice from an authoritative site to yours only takes place if the link is dofollow. It’s a link that facilitates the exchange of link juice between sites.
Another type of backlink, nofollow, does the exact opposite. Even if you built links from high-performing sites, your website won’t improve its organic search performance if the links are nofollow.
As a result, you should build as many dofollow links as possible to benefit from your link building efforts.
But, similar to anchor texts, you don’t want your link profile to comprise just dofollow links. Even the most powerful sites out there have lots of nofollow links.
Therefore, it would look suspicious to Google, which could penalise your website.
By having nofollow links in the mix as well, you make your link profile natural-looking. And while these links don’t allow link juice to flow to your site, you can use them to generate referral traffic to your site instead.
As mentioned, not all links are the same. Links within the content body is the most ideal place where you can get a backlink from.
Below are types of links you should strive to build for your site:
Note: Links outside the content, i.e. footer, sidebar, etc. don’t provide the same power as links within the content.
Also, the power of each backlink can be analysed on a page-to-page level. For example, a link from a page that ranks for hundreds of keywords isn’t the same as a link from a page without organic traffic.
At the very least, knowing how the power of a backlink varies through these factors allow you to understand the link you should aim for. But at the same time, you shouldn’t over-optimise your site’s link profile with the best types as mentioned above, as diversity matters.
To be clear, I’m not saying that you should go out and link from low-quality sites back to yours.
What I mean here is your site will have spammy links whether or not you like it and instead of denying and getting rid of these links (which you can do by disavowing them), you should build more better quality links to your site to outweigh the spammy links.
It’s possible your competitors who are finding it difficult to outrank you launched a negative SEO campaign against your site hoping to get Google to penalise it.
There are times that this tactic works. However, Google constantly gets smarter that it identifies spammy links and disregards them from a site’s link profile.
Some people feel compelled to disavow these links so they wouldn’t have to dilute their link profile. It could work to some extent, but you must worry about another negative SEO attack coming your site’s way.
Therefore, instead of constantly disavowing toxic links to your site, it’s better to just build powerful backlinks to neutralise and overpower the bad ones.
Ultimately, spammy links pointing to your site goes to show that you have a very natural link profile. While these links in their very core are not ideal, they nonetheless help make your site look just like every other site out there.
Below are just a few examples of websites with excellent link profiles based on what we discussed above. We’ll take a peek at each of their profiles and what it took for each to build them.
The goal here is to help you understand why they are prominent examples and how you can apply their strategies on your site.
Link Profile overview:
If you’re in the SEO business, Ahrefs needs no introduction. It’s one of the best SEO tools that provide in-depth data and insights about a website according to different SEO metrics.
Here’s an overview of the site’s SEO performance (using its own tool, no less!):
As a company in the SEO industry, you expect them to perform well in this respect. Not only do they pass with flying colours, but all their efforts (links notwithstanding) allowed them to almost crack the 1M monthly traffic.
The key lies in their ability to coordinate the content they create with their link building activity. By crafting posts and articles that people want to link out to, they are maximising the links they can get from their content.
It published a post recently documenting its link building process that allowed them to rank for the keyword “seo stats.”
The article detailed the different obstacles they needed to go through before publishing the post. In the case of the topic, Ahrefs made sure that the information is updated and correct to guarantee its usefulness and insightfulness for its target audience.
Using this principle in all their link building campaigns, it’s no wonder that they have a formidable link profile.
Link profile overview:
Responsify is a digital marketing company that helps clients strengthen their customer relationships through online campaigns.
To help the brand get more clients for its services, Responsify enlisted the help of Sure Oak, a full-service SEO firm.
The goal of Sure Oak is to increase organic search traffic from the previous year. With this in mind, the firm started with increasing Responsify’s Domain Authority (DA) which was sitting at 16.
After conducting a thorough SEO audit and keyword research, Sure Oak then proceeded to build backlinks to fortify Responsify’s link profile. The firm focused on building editorial links centred on specific topics that the company is knowledgeable about.
It also ran a scholarship link building campaign to help generate links from .edu sites, considered to pass off some of the most powerful link juices.
After a year, Sure Oak increased Responsify’s organic traffic by 582%. It also almost doubled its DA – from 16 to 30.
You can check out Sure Oak’s case study here.
Link profile overview:
Backlinko is one of the most popular and trusted SEO blogs out there. It came into popularity when owner Brian Dean talked about the Skyscraper Technique back as early as 2014.
The tactic is nothing new in principle. However, it shed more light on how creating skyscraper content can help you acquire lots of backlinks better than your competitors.
In his first post about the tactic, Brian created “Google’s 200 Ranking Factors: The Complete List” to make a much better and more polished version of the best resource about the same topic.
By creating content that’s better-looking and more up-to-date than others, Brian used its qualities to build backlinks to it. By reaching out to site owners and showing the merits of his page, he was able to sway them into linking to it instead of the older one.
For this page alone, he increased his organic traffic by 110% within two weeks.
However, as with most SEO strategies, they won’t work all the time.
That’s why, in the second post about Skyscraper Technique, Brian emphasises on optimising content for a keyword with a clear search intent.
It won’t matter if sites are linking to it or the content is informative. Because if the user intent for searching the keyword is unclear, then people won’t be able to find it on Google.
By tweaking the content based on its search intent, he was able to boost the page’s traffic by 657% within seven days!
Just like Ahrefs, Backlinko proves that developing and launching a coordinated SEO campaign involving content and link building will do wonders for your site’s link profile and traffic.
Link profile overview:
Herbonaut is a CBD oil review and product comparison site. Site owner Haydar approached LinksHero for some link acquisition help.
What Artem at LinksHero did was to pitch the site’s existing linkable assets to other sites and ask for a link from it.
He also reached out to guest posting opportunities that offer a backlink to Herbonaut.
Haydar handed Artem the link building task in early February of 2018. Since then, LinksHero grew the site’s monthly traffic from just under 10k to 62k consistently within two years.
However, if you checked on the site’s traffic, it dipped during the beginning of 2019 when the Medic Update penalised most sites in the medical niche.
Over time, Herbonaut persevered after the rollback from the algorithm update, in which it saw its best organic traffic yet.
This site is proof that building a strong link profile doesn’t require you fancy tactics and strategies. It’s all about doing the basics of link building but at a top level.
You can learn more details about this case study and how LinksHero builds links for their clients by clicking here.
Backlinks, in a vacuum, can only help your website rank on Google to an extent.
There are other factors that influence the site’s SEO performance such as content, site speed, and hundreds of others.
However, that doesn’t diminish the importance of gaining the best backlinks for your link profile, and that backlinks are STILL the number one factor Google uses to rank sites.
Building your link profile, overall, should mainly be about keeping the quality of your links consistently high and not overdoing your link campaign in a short amount of time.