The state of your backlink profile (external links pointing to your site) is becoming more important than ever as Google seeks to reward high quality sites and penalise those who may have delved in questionable activities in order to game the search engine.

This is due to its new algorithm on Over Optimisation. Over optimisation, remember, also includes offsite activities such as: having lots of sites with exact match anchor text; paid for links; and links from blog networks and bad neighbourhoods, for example.

To improve your backlink profile it only makes sense that your house is in order as well as building quality links to your site.

So 3 simple steps would be:

  1. Check your existing links
  2. Build those quality links and;
  3. Build for variance

Check Existing Backlinks

In SEO it is always wise to go through what backlinks you have; scrutinising any potential sites that might give you cause for concern in future.

If a site does appear a little bit too spammy for your liking then you should find ways of removing those links if possible. You also get to see what is working for your site which can be applied for other link building strategies.

Do not spend too much time on finding bad links to your site. It really is to get a bearing to see if there has been some dodgy activity in the past.

And remember to not be too overzealous in your judgement. Ask someone proficient in SEO such as an SEO consultant what is deemed as a spammy link. But generally look out for backlinks in bad neighbourhoods and having ‘exact phrase’ anchor text links that have no context (inserted in a random blogroll or in the middle of an unintelligible blogpost).

You can find current links pointing to your site through various ways. For example: Google Webmaster Tools, Bing Webmaster Tools, Alexa, and OSE (Open Site Explorer). It is better to run your site through a few services as they will all likely to provide different backlink profiles.

Build Quality Links

In order to gain favour with Google in the rankings you need quality; natural links that are relevant and are related to the same business/niche as you. You can do this in a manner of ways but in most cases the best links are from people who want to link to you naturally; this is from building relationships and producing good quality content.

But always consider combining variance as part of your strategy too. Remember, quality links is a large part of the battle, but having a wider, fuller, natural looking backlink profile definitely has its brownie points too.

Building Variance

Building quality links will provide variance but there are other options out there which search engines look for; which can provide you with those elusive deeplinks and anchor text that you are after.

Variance adds volume to your links and provides a larger array of different referring domains pointing to your site as well.

What you need for variance:

  • Anchor Text – When you have an opportunity to use anchor text try to mix it up (Exclude this from business listings and directories – they should remain the same if possible). Steer away from using the same anchor text over and over again
  • Deeplinks – Linking to your inside pages are just as important as your homepage
  • Nofollow links – Just because a quality site serves nofollow links, it doesn’t mean it has to be ignored
  • Pure URLs – Links to your website but with the URLs as the anchor text itself
  • Sitewide links / Blogrolls – From a trusted site these can be very powerful – if you lose them though, expect hurt
  • Homepage only links – From a trusted site these can be powerful too. Not too much hurt if removed
  • Frequency – Maintain a steady flow of links pointing to your site

Sources and ideas for variance include:

  • Articles / Guest Posting – Guest posts are loved, provided it is from an authority niche-related site. Make sure those attribution links are working.
  • Automated/Fast Indexing sites – These are sites that generate pages that present some form of information based on a submitted URL. Most do not require any user verification or participation. These are some of the lowest form of links on the Web, but are still liked by search engines and can be useful for indexing, deeplinking and providing a steady flow.
  • Blog Commenting – Share your thoughts on others blogs. Again, it is better if the blog is related to your niche.
  • Directory Listings – Business directories, particularly, are very much loved. Such as Yelp, Yell, Qype, Brownbook and the like. With careful research you can even get some of those crucial deeplinks. But always remember to keep your Business name and address the same. Submitting to authority directories within the same niche as your site still hold a lot of value.
  • Events/Webinars – If you are outgoing these can be a great source for leaving a trail of backlinks, whether you are hosting or even joining. Make sure you are available on those social networks after a meet.
  • File sharing – Submitting PDFs and Word Docs to 3rd party websites who host them can provide some interesting links pointing back to your site. Remember to include working URLs within those files.
  • Link Bait – Nothing like a useful/interesting infographic, video or post that can drive people to your site.
  • Profile links – These are links from a bio page. A lot of these will come from signing up to the various sites on your journey. Usually they are of low quality but it doesn’t hurt. When you have the opportunity make sure to fill them out and include a link.
  • RSS Feeds/Aggregators – Still very useful. Ping your your fresh content for quick indexing and submit to those RSS directories. Old but gold.
  • Social Bookmarks – Social bookmarking sites are great for deeplinks that you can do yourself. Remember to have your on-page seo up to scratch.
  • Social Networking – Your Twitters, Facebooks, LinkedIns and Googlepluses are essential for building relationships. Involve others to link to you instead.
  • Q&A sites / Forums – If you’re an expert and you have the content this can be a nice lucrative way to get links to your site. Good for building relationships.
  • Video/Podcasting/Image hosts – When hosted on 3rd party sites these can still provide that variance – mostly from a bio/profile link but it’s the niche that counts.
  • Wiki links – if you can find a wiki and you have a great resource – go for it.
  • XML Sitemaps – if you have the opportunity to style an XML sitemap on another site use an XSLT. These are low quality, but they still count.

Happy Hunting

Through experimenting you’ll find a whole load more of different types of links to generalise and give a name to. The above is a good, broad spectrum, safe for diversifying your link profile.

Good luck on your ventures & happy hunting.