Building a Natural Backlink Profile
For anyone that is building links or actively seeking out backlinks for their site, one of the most important things to keep in mind is the look of your backlink profile. The term backlink profile refers to the list of links that are pointing back to your site from external sources. It is important to consider what this list looks like to search engines like Google as you can receive penalties or punishments for a backlink profile that doesn't appear to be "natural". To protect your site from incurring these penalties, it is important to understand what looks natural in the eyes of the search engines.
Healthy Mix of Anchor Text
One of the first things that will be scrutinized in your backlink portfolio is the mix of anchor text being used. There is no exact science to the precise percentage of each type of anchor text you should have, but there are some generally accepted approximations. The most natural looking anchor text you can have is branded (your company's brand) anchors or exact URLs, and as such the majority of your anchor text should be comprised of these two anchor texts.
Along with branded anchors and URLs, your second most used anchor text should be made up of long-tail keyword and partial-match keyword anchors. These types of anchor text may include the keywords (or a portion of them) that you are trying to rank for along with some other relevant words or phrases so that they are not an exact match of the search term you want to rank for.
Finally, it is necessary to include a percentage of anchor texts that are exact matches of the search term you are trying to rank for. However, this percentage should be significantly lower than the previous two and it seems to be shrinking with each Google algorithm update.
Vary Your Landing Pages
Another characteristic of a natural looking backlink profile is a profile that includes a variety of landing pages. The most natural landing page for your links is your home page and it should be where the majority of your links point. Links with a branded anchor text that point to a home page are some of the most natural looking links you can have.
However, adding some deep links that point to other pages on your site can help round out your backlink portfolio and help it appear more natural. The key here is to make sure that you don't have too many links pointing to a particular landing page and that you don't optimize too much for one specific portion of your site, as this could appear to be unnatural.
Acquire Links from a Balanced Assortment of Sites
This aspect of your backlink profile refers to the types of sites you are receiving links from and the quality of those sites. Obviously you want to avoid spammy sites and link schemes, but at the same time you don't want to only target sites with high page rank or domain authority (DA) as this appears unnatural. Linking to some smaller (but still quality and relevant) sites as well, will present a more natural picture. Often times these smaller sites can actually provide more SEO value than high DA sites as they may have a more engaged audience that is more likely to boost the value of your links through social sharing.
Diversify Your Links
Finally, it is important to pay attention to the kinds of links you are getting and make sure there is plenty of diversity in the links you are building. Focusing too much on one particular type of link can appear unnatural and get you into trouble. It is important to have a healthy mix of links from guest blogging, links on social media platforms, links in respected and trusted directories, etc. It is important to avoid concentrating on one specific technique too much and instead you should employ a wide variety of link building strategies. As long as the link is relevant to where it is placed and it fits naturally, it can add to the validity of your overall backlink profile.
When building links and growing your backlink portfolio, it is important to keep these factors in mind. By adhering to these guidelines you can build a backlink profile that appears natural to Google and other search engines. Building a natural looking backlink profile will not only increase your traffic and rankings in the SERPs, but it will also keep you from getting penalized or punished.
Image courtesy of infocux Technologies, Flickr.