How To Build A Diverse & Healthy Link Profile

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Search is rapidly evolving, with a constant influx of new features, formats, and even search engines emerging in the field.

Despite advancements, Google’s algorithm continues to give precedence to backlinks in determining website rankings. Therefore, to enhance your website’s visibility in search results, it’s essential to consider your backlinks and cultivate a robust backlink profile.

A robust backlink profile necessitates diversity.

In this guide, we’ll delve into strategies for establishing and sustaining a diverse backlink profile to bolster your website’s search performance.

What Does A Healthy Backlink Profile Look Like?

According to Google’s guidelines, its primary method of crawling pages is through links from other pages, which are acquired through promotion and naturally over time.

In practical terms, a robust backlink profile can be categorized into three key areas: the variety of link types, the diversity of anchor text, and the balance between followed and nofollowed links.

Now, let’s explore these aspects and how they contribute to a healthy backlink profile.

Distribution Of Link Types

Diversifying link types within your backlink profile is crucial for maintaining a natural and effective SEO strategy.

Having predominantly one type of link in your profile can appear unnatural to Google, indicating a lack of diversity in your content strategy.

Here are some of the different link types that should ideally be present in your backlink profile:

  • Anchor text links
  • Image links
  • Redirect links
  • Canonical links

For instance, at Whatfix, as observed via Semrush, our breakdown of link types includes a mix of these categories.

While anchor text links and image links are typically the most prevalent, reflecting common linking practices on the web, it’s important to also have a presence of other link types, as they are naturally acquired over time.

Mix Of Anchor Text

Ensuring adequate variance in anchor text is another crucial aspect of managing your backlink profile.

Over-optimizing for a specific anchor text type can trigger suspicion from search engines like Google, potentially leading to negative consequences.

Here are the various types of anchor text that may appear in your backlink profile:

  • Branded anchor text: This includes your brand name or variations of it.
  • Empty: Links with no anchor text.
  • Naked URLs: Anchor text that consists of a URL, like
  • Exact match keyword-rich anchor text: Anchor text that precisely matches the keyword targeted by the linked page, such as “blue shoes” for a page about blue shoes.
  • Partial match keyword-rich anchor text: Anchor text that partially or closely matches the targeted keyword, like “comfortable blue footwear options.”
  • Generic anchor text: Common phrases like “this website” or “here.”

To maintain a balanced and healthy backlink profile, strive for a diverse mix of anchor text within the following ranges:

  • Branded anchor text: 35-40%
  • Partial match keyword-rich anchor text: 15-20%
  • Generic anchor text: 10-15%
  • Exact match keyword-rich anchor text: 5-10%
  • Naked URLs: 5-10%
  • Empty: 3-5%

This distribution reflects a natural blend of various anchor text types. It’s common for a significant portion of anchors to be branded or partially branded, as most sites linking to yours will naturally use your brand name. Additionally, partial-match keywords and generic anchor text are prevalent choices within the context of web pages.

Exact-match anchor text is relatively rare because it typically occurs only when your page is the best resource for a specific term, and the site owner is aware of its existence.

Ratio Of Followed Vs. Nofollowed Backlinks

Lastly, it’s crucial to monitor the ratio of followed versus nofollowed links directing to your website.

If you need a refresher on what nofollowed backlinks are or why someone might utilize the nofollow tag for a link leading to your site, refer to Google’s guide on how to qualify outbound links to Google.

Nofollow attributes should typically only be applied to paid links or links pointing to a site the linking site doesn’t fully trust.

While it’s not unusual or suspicious to have some nofollow links (misunderstandings about the purpose of the nofollow attribute are common), a healthy backlink profile will generally consist of a higher proportion of followed links.

Aiming for a ratio of 80%:20% or 70%:30% in favor of followed links is advisable. For instance, here’s an illustration of the followed vs. nofollowed ratio within my company’s backlink profile, as per Ahrefs:

You may encounter links with other rel attributes, such as UGC or Sponsored.

The “UGC” attribute identifies links from user-generated content, while the “Sponsored” attribute distinguishes links from sponsored or paid sources. Although these attributes differ slightly from the nofollow tag, they essentially serve the same purpose, indicating to Google that these links aren’t endorsed or trusted by the linking site. When calculating your ratio, you can simply include these links with the nofollowed ones.

Importance Of Diversifying Your Backlink Profile

Certainly! Here’s a rewritten version:

“Why is diversifying your backlink profile essential? There are three primary reasons to keep in mind:

  • Preventing overoptimization.
  • Broadening traffic origins.
  • Discovering fresh audiences.
    Let’s delve into each of these.”

Avoiding Overoptimization

The primary reason for diversifying your backlink profile is to shield yourself from overoptimization and its associated penalties, which can be detrimental.

As SEO professionals, our responsibility is to enhance website performance through optimization. However, excessive optimization in any aspect of our strategy—whether it’s backlinks, keywords, or structure—can lead to penalties that diminish visibility in search results.

In the previous section, we discussed the components of a robust backlink profile. Straying too far from this model could raise red flags for search engines like Google, potentially resulting in manual or algorithmic penalties that lower your search rankings.

Given the frequent updates to Google’s search algorithm and the limited information available about these updates, you might experience a sudden drop in performance without understanding the cause.

That’s why it’s crucial to monitor your backlink profile closely and observe its evolution.

Diversifying Traffic Sources

Another compelling reason to nurture a diverse backlink profile is to ensure the diversification of your traffic sources.

Google penalties can strike swiftly and unexpectedly. Relying solely on one traffic source can severely impact your site, potentially requiring assistance for recovery.

However, by diversifying your traffic sources—such as search, social media, email, etc.—you can reduce the risk, much like managing a diverse stock portfolio. This way, if one traffic source experiences a downturn, you’ll still have other avenues to maintain a steady flow of visitors.

Part of fostering a diverse backlink profile involves obtaining a variety of backlinks and backlink types. This strategic approach not only helps in diversifying your backlink profile but also aids in discovering different and varied sources of traffic.

Finding New Audiences

Lastly, constructing a diverse backlink profile holds significance because it aids in uncovering new audiences.

Relying solely on a few websites and platforms for acquiring links may limit your ability to expand your audience and enhance awareness of your website.

While it’s crucial to secure links from sites catering to your current audience, it’s equally important to seek opportunities for obtaining links that can reach new audiences. Casting a broad net with a range of link acquisition tactics and strategies is the most effective approach.

A diverse backlink profile reflects a multifaceted approach to SEO and marketing, facilitating the attraction of new visitors and raising awareness of your site.

Building A Diverse Backlink Profile

Now that you understand the significance of a diverse backlink profile, let’s explore how to incorporate diversity into your site’s backlink profile.

Achieving diversity hinges on your link acquisition strategy and the types of backlinks you actively pursue. To steer your strategy, let’s categorize link building into three main areas:

  • Foundational links.
  • Content promotion.
  • Community involvement.

Here’s a breakdown of how to approach each category.

Foundational Links

Foundational links are those that are fundamental for your website to have. These opportunities represent instances where a backlink would typically exist if all website owners were aware of each other.

Examples of foundational links include:

  • Mentions: Websites that mention your brand, products, employees, or proprietary data but do not include a link.
  • Partners: Websites of real-world partners or companies you have offline connections with, which should also link to your site online.
  • Associations or groups: Websites of offline associations or groups you belong to, where your site should be listed with a link.
  • Sponsorships: Websites of events or organizations your company sponsors, which should include links to your site.
  • Sites linking to competitors: If a website is linking to your competitors, there’s a good chance they would also find value in linking to your site.

These link opportunities serve as the foundation for your link acquisition efforts.

To kickstart your link building strategy, it’s essential to prioritize these opportunities first to ensure you’re not overlooking highly relevant links that could strengthen your backlink profile.

Content Promotion

Next, let’s delve into content promotion as a strategy for cultivating a robust and diverse backlink profile.

Content promotion requires a more proactive approach compared to foundational link acquisition. Instead of capitalizing on existing opportunities, you must create link-worthy content to manifest the linking opportunities.

Examples of content promotion for acquiring links include:

  • Digital PR: While digital PR campaigns serve various purposes beyond link acquisition, securing backlinks should be a primary Key Performance Indicator (KPI).
  • Original research: Like digital PR, original research should prioritize providing valuable data to your audience. Ensure that any citations or references to your research are correctly linked.
  • Guest content: Whether contributing regular columns or one-time pieces, providing guest content to websites remains an effective link acquisition strategy when executed correctly. Evaluate your guest content strategy by considering whether you would still create the content for a site even without a guaranteed backlink, knowing that it will still help build authority and reach a new audience.
  • Original imagery: If your company produces original imagery that offers unique value, promoting these images and requesting citation links can also contribute to your backlink profile.

Content promotion serves as a viable avenue for building a healthy backlink profile, provided that the content being promoted is truly deserving of links.

Community Involvement

Community involvement is the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to acquiring backlinks and building a diverse backlink profile.

After exhausting foundational opportunities and proactively promoting your content, it’s crucial to ensure that your brand remains active and visible in the spaces and communities where your audience engages.

In terms of acquiring backlinks, this involvement can take several forms:

  • Wikipedia links: Wikipedia garners over 4 billion monthly visits, making backlinks from this platform potentially valuable for driving referral traffic to your site. However, obtaining these links is challenging as Wikipedia pages are closely moderated, and your site will only be linked if it is genuinely considered a top resource on the web.
  • Forums (Reddit, Quora, etc.): Forums such as Reddit and Quora provide another avenue for acquiring backlinks that drive referral traffic. Similar to Wikipedia, these forums are closely moderated, and securing link placements requires offering significant and unique value to a specific audience.
  • Social platforms: Engaging actively with social media platforms and groups is essential for building and nurturing communities around your brand. Although these efforts may be managed by teams outside of SEO and focus on different metrics, it’s important to convert these interactions into links wherever possible.
  • Offline events: While it may not seem intuitive, offline events can also present opportunities for link acquisition. Many businesses, brands, and individuals you interact with at these events likely have websites, and networking can lead to online connections in the form of backlinks.

Although many of the link opportunities mentioned above may carry the nofollow attribute due to the nature of the associated sites, they are still valuable additions to your backlink profile as they come from powerful and trusted domains.

These links help diversify your traffic sources by bringing in significant referral traffic, which is highly qualified as it originates from communities that share your target audience.

How To Avoid Developing A Toxic Backlink Profile

Now that you’ve got a grasp of the link building strategies conducive to nurturing a robust, varied backlink profile, let’s delve into what to steer clear of.

As highlighted earlier, excessive optimization of any one strategy or link might trigger search engine suspicion, potentially leading to penalties for your site. So, how can you sidestep the trap of accumulating toxic links in your backlink profile?

Remember The “Golden Rule” Of Link Building

A straightforward approach to steering your link acquisition strategy clear of search engine penalties, particularly from Google, revolves around adhering to a fundamental “golden rule.”

This rule prompts a simple question: If search engines such as Google weren’t part of the equation, and navigation of the web solely relied on backlinks, would you desire your site to be linked on the target website?

By adopting this perspective, the focus shifts away from SEO tactics, emphasizing the human aspect of linking—where connections between sites are established for their logical relevance and to enhance web navigation.

Avoid Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

Another key guideline is to steer clear of involving your site in private blog networks (PBNs). Identifying PBNs isn’t always straightforward, but there are telltale signs or red flags to watch out for:

  • When someone offers a link placement, they mention possessing a list of domains for sharing.
  • The potential linking site shows minimal traffic and lacks human engagement indicators like blog comments, social media followers, or blog views.
  • Thin content and neglect of user experience (UX) and design are evident on the website.
  • The website covers broad, generic topics, appealing to a wide audience.
  • Pages on the site contain numerous external links but limited internal links.
  • The domain’s backlink profile displays signs of overoptimization, such as excessive exact match anchor text or an abnormal ratio of nofollowed links.

Once more, maintaining diversification in both tactics and strategies is essential for nurturing a healthy backlink profile. Avoiding obvious PBNs and adhering to the ‘golden rule’ of link building will significantly contribute to keeping your profile free from toxicity.

Evaluating Your Backlink Profile

As you dedicate yourself to cultivating and sustaining a varied, robust backlink portfolio, it’s crucial to allocate time for regular analytical assessments. Assessing the value of your backlinks can be approached in two primary ways: utilizing tools for backlink analysis and benchmarking your profile against the broader competitive field.

Leverage Tools To Analyze Backlink Profile

Numerous third-party tools exist for analyzing your backlink profile, offering valuable insights like total backlinks and referring domains. These tools enable a comprehensive examination of your profile, segmenting it by:

  • Followed versus nofollowed links.
  • Authority metrics such as Domain Rating, Domain Authority, and Authority Score.
  • Types of backlinks.
  • Geographic location or country.
  • Anchor text distribution.
  • Types of top-level domains.
  • And various other criteria.

You can also utilize these tools to monitor new inbound backlinks and track lost ones, providing insights into the evolution of your backlink profile. Among the top tools for analyzing your profile are:

  • Semrush
  • Ahrefs
  • Moz
  • SEOClarity

Additionally, many of these platforms offer features that gauge the potential toxicity or suspicion of your profile to search engines, aiding in the early detection of possible issues.

Compare Your Backlink Profile To The Competitive Landscape

Finally, it’s essential to benchmark your overall backlink profile against both your competitors and those vying for similar positions in search results. While the tools mentioned earlier can furnish you with the raw data, focus your comparative analysis on:

  • Total backlinks.
  • Referring domains.
  • Distribution of authority metrics like Domain Rating, Domain Authority, and Authority Score among links.
  • Authority metrics of rival domains.
  • Backlink growth trends spanning the last two years.

Analyzing your backlink profile in comparison to others within your competitive sphere aids in understanding your domain’s current position and gauging how much ground you need to cover if you’re trailing behind rivals.

It’s essential to recognize that superiority in search performance isn’t solely determined by having the most backlinks. However, these numbers generally reflect search engines’ perception of competitors’ domain authority. Consequently, a robust correlation often exists between potent backlink profiles and strong search performance.

Approach Link Building With A User-First Mindset

The search landscape is ever-changing, and we may witness significant transformations in how people search within the next five years or even sooner. Nevertheless, as of now, search engines such as Google still factor backlinks into their ranking algorithms, making it imperative to nurture a robust backlink profile for visibility in search results.

By adhering to the guidance provided in this article while constructing your profile, you’ll acquire backlinks that enhance your site’s value irrespective of future alterations in search algorithms, safeguarding your traffic sources.

Approach the acquisition of links with the same customer-centric approach you apply to any other marketing endeavor. Over time, this approach will organically foster the development of a healthy, varied backlink portfolio.

Original news from SearchEngineJournal