Free or cheap link building? Costs are unavoidable
Anyone who wants to score higher in Google will automatically end up building backlinks to their website. Looking first you end up with free link building tips and eventually you also look for cheap link building. But if you consider link building as a long-term marketing tool, you will automatically see a different ROI and also a different cost. This article delves into the costs of link building: pitfalls, revenues and practical tips.
Why link building? Google's search results are determined for 50 percent by links. Google sees these as votes: a website with many relevant votes ranks higher in Google. Links you get, you earn, you build and you can buy.
Free link building
There are a number of ways to get free links:
- Sign Up at relevant business directories and home pages;
- It questions from your physical partners (such as customers, suppliers and associations) to provide a link;
- It place from links on other pages and websites that you control. Social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram for example. Or separate landing pages and product sites.
- Internal linking on your website: they are just as important for Google.
But this is not really link building: there is no building. Only the logical places are filled in. Free link building does not exist.
Earning Links: Content Marketing
There is no such thing as getting rich by getting links to your website for free. You have to earn them. When you post a great article or piece of content, there is a chance that your visitors will share it via social media, an email and sometimes a link from another page. Articles on Bloeise, for example, are regularly used by students who cite Bloeise as a source. That is content marketing.
Do you want to attract people to your website with content and earn links? Here are some possibilities:
- Write lists: 10 tips for, 5 pitfalls to, 8 reasons why. Lists work because as a reader you will check off what you do know and learn new points.
- Answer questions: Look at your target audience. What questions do they have? What are they with? What answers are they looking for before considering your product or service?
- Interview: your internal colleagues or your customers. Talk mainly about the business: trends, opportunities, threats and new developments. That is real information that people are interested in.
Are you targeting companies? Be sure to read this long read about b2b content marketing.
Link building: what should you pay attention to? Fourteen points!
You want to get started with link building. After reading a first article “10 Link Building Tips” you will immediately build links. But that can unfortunately turn out to be disastrous: Google has strict rules and looks at the following fourteen aspects:
- Do follow and no follow. This tag tells Google whether or not the link is 'a vote'. Sometimes you mention your competitor in a story and you don't want to vote for that. Google also expects a certain number of no-follow links to your website. Are there none? Then Google suspects that something is wrong.
- Paid links.Paying for links is a no-no. If you already do it, for example because of traffic, Google expects it to become a no-follow link. Now, of course, Google has no insights into payment data, but they are masters at recognizing certain patterns.
- anchor text. The text link you click on. If all your links only have beautiful keywords as anchors, that is a strong signal to Google that someone is doing link building. Google also expects anchors such as: click here, website or company name.
- Domain. The link must come from a related website or page. It must be in the same 'knowledge domain'. A link to a butcher from a barber is less valuable than from a sheep farmer.
- PR rank. An outdated term you often hear: named after Google founder Larry Page. It is a number on a scale of 10 that indicates via an algorithm how big a website is. Google is 10 for example, Nu.nl is 7, an average municipal website is 5. Per step it was a factor of 10. Why is this outdated? Google has stopped giving this ranking since November 2013. Only older sites have a PR rank. A link from a PR-5 website is much more valuable than a link from a PR-2 site.
- The age of the domain also counts. The older the domain being linked from, the better.
- Does your website immediately get 40 links with beautiful keywords within a week? Strong signal to Google that link building is underway. Google expects a organic growth: occasionally, irregularly and alternately.
- Number of links per domain.Google finds a website that gets 10 links from 10 different domains more interesting than a website that gets 100 links from the same domain. (a domain is a website url).
- Unique IP addresses. A web builder often uses the same server for multiple customers: shared hosting. Fine for hosting, but the links from all those sites are worth less than using other IP addresses. Google even looks at a provider's groups of IP addresses.
- Number of links on the page. A page with 100 outbound links passes 100x less link value than a page with only one link.
- Place the link on the page. The first link on a page gives more link value than a link at the bottom of the page.
- Size of the link. The size of the font is also important. Ditto for images with a link.
- social media. Links indicate popular content. Social media posts too! A page with many links but no links at all on social media makes Google frown again.
- The set of backlinks to your website is called a backlink profile. This must alternating are: do-follow and no-follow, sites with high PR and low PR, various anchors, from business directories, partners and also social media. Therefore, never focus on one way of link building.
The Rules of Link Building
Nice piece of explanation by Cyrus Shepard from MOZ (known from the MozRank):
Link building value
It will be clear to you: Google is not happy with link building at all! The only reason Google allows it to any degree is if it value adds for the readers. Value is the fifteenth point and the most important! So no cheapest car insurance! just left Apply for a mortgage! in a sentence Want to buy a bicycle? place. It should help the reader further, such as the link above about b2b content marketing: it will take you to the best article in the Netherlands on that subject. (seriously)
There are a few more points on which you can rate an incoming link, in addition to PageRank:
- TrustRank: a score of 0-10. Developed in 2004 to combat spam sites. Reliable sites pass on 'trust' with a link to your site. But linking yourself to unreliable sites will cost you trust. (source: Combating Web Spam with TrustRank)
- domain authority: a score of 0-100. Predicts how well a site will rank in Google. Created by MOZ. There are 4 factors on which DA is determined: the prestige of a website and the authors, quality of the information displayed, the information and website that are central and the competition around a topic.
- Page authority: like domain authority but for a specific page.
- MozRank: also coined by MOZ, a score of 0-10. It gives the link popularity score On. You increase this figure by getting links from popular or semi-popular pages.
The best free tool for finding Domain authority, page authority and MozRank is CheckMoz.com. Make sure you provide the correct URL, including HTTPS or HTTP, WWW or without WWW.
Cheap link building or quality link building?
Cheap is expensive. But you don't want to hear that. So we will discuss cheap link building, but with the knowledge you have gained above.
You come across this ad and click on it. And what else do they promise?
We'll go through it step-by-step:
- domain authority.
- Also about domain authority.
- Number of links on the page.
- Important for SEO, but only indirectly important for link building.
- .Edu and .gov domains are interesting, but it's mostly about it number of links per domain.
- There are 500 characters of your own content around it: so it will be somewhat relevant and value
- Unique IP addresses.
- A result.
Look again at the list above of the aspects to watch out for. No follow? Growth? anchor? If you suddenly get 30 PR 6 links with do-follow link in one day on the same great keyword, cheap link building is very counterproductive (doesn't give you any pocket).
Link building costs
What should qualitative link building cost? For that you first have to look at the ROI: what it yields. The following six points are important:
- It search traffic per keyword.
- The position of your website in Google: the higher the chance of clicks.
- The influence of link building on your position in Google: the quality and quantity according to the above points.
- The CTR of your website in the search results: do people click on your result?
- The relevance of the Google traffic for your website: do they click away immediately?
- The conversion that follows. You can measure this with Google Analytics. A keyword like “hotel texel Christmas 2016” has a low search volume, but every visitor that comes to your website on it scores. Conversely, a keyword “online marketing” has a huge amount of search traffic, but this rarely leads to any conversion.
A good link builder also does a keyword analysis, points you to the titles and meta descriptions of your pages and verifies whether you have set up Google Analytics correctly. A good link builder delivers quality, and quality costs money. For example, if you look at the costs of one link: finding a suitable partner, sending an email and following up quickly takes 20 minutes. Cheap link building is therefore by definition not manual link building.
Link building packages or a link building subscription?
Qualitative link building takes time. A quick hit & run does not work with link building: you have to build the links steadily. For this, link building is a continuous task that you do on the side. Do you want to outsource link building? Then don't choose 'link building packages' but a 'link building subscription': these ensure steady growth of your backlinks.
Parties that offer link building packages usually have hundreds or thousands of websites under their control that are of poor quality and often completely irrelevant. For them it's a matter of starting the software, automatically adding links and earning money: they don't bother you at all. Link building packages are often scalable: more money immediately means more links. They are therefore 'spammy' and exactly for which Google created the Penguin algorithm. With this, Google recognizes their behavior and your beautiful new links become toxic and you receive a penalty from Google (not good). Link building packages are often cheap… but as the Americans say: 'if you pay peanuts then you'll get monkeys'.
Link building with warranty does not work
A party that is guaranteed to get you on the first position in Google is cheating on you. It works in the short term, but not in the long term. Google changes the various algorithms that determine the positions on a daily basis, and looks at at least 200 different factors. Nobody has any influence on all these factors.
A link builder can only do a 'best efforts obligation': for these costs I do this and this for you and that has yielded that result for others in the past. Typically you can get to the first page, but that also depends on the keyword: “car insurance” for example is a keyword with a ridiculous amount of competition. As a link builder you cannot say that you will reach position x for x amount. It is best if a link builder lets you test run with one keyword and shows what the impact is on the position.
Outsource link building cheaply?
- First look at which keywords are interesting for you and optimize your page, technique and content. This will quickly put your website in the top 30.
- Then start with link building: what can you do yourself with a little time?
- Immerse yourself in the ins and outs of link building: convince yourself to go for quality.