Part of my work with brands includes helping them build a link profile. This includes internal links within their blog and landing pages as well as backlinks from other websites. Throughout the years, there have been many changes to the methods SEOs recommend for building links. This can be a problem for webmasters who build up quality links, only to find out they need to change their methods going forward.
What Is Link Diversity?
A diverse backlink profile means that you have backlinks that are varied across different platforms (blogs, news sites, social media, etc.), using varied anchor text (long tail, exact match, branded, etc.), to different locations (homepage, landing pages, blog posts, etc.), and so on …
Diverse link building is something that many of the best SEOs and authoritative SEO publications preach.
“If I had to choose just one thing that our most successful clients have in common, it would be link diversity.” – Search Engine Land
“Google wants to see, in a link profile, anchors that display diversity in the form of branded anchor texts.” – Neil Patel, Quick Sprout
“Getting links from a diverse group of domains is extremely important for SEO.” – Brian Dean, Backlinko
“Anchor text diversity and link relevancy may be two key factors of Penguin, according to more early analysis.” Search Engine Watch
Well, all four of the above sites are consistently ranked on the first page for search terms related to SEO and backlinks. That should be proof enough that they are doing something right and their methods should at least be considered by others.
So, Why Link Diversity?
Google isn’t stupid, and neither is its algorithm. If you build links from one specific anchor, be prepared to be penalized. It can see this trend and will know that you are artificially building your rank.
The same thing goes for when a new website has a ton of high domain authority backlinks. So, you mean to tell me a brand new website, all of a sudden, is being covered by Forbes, Entrepreneur, and the Huffington Post, yet they have little, if any, backlinks to lower domain blogs? Why would major publications be talking about you if no one else is?
A diverse link profile shows that links are being built naturally. Websites do not collaborate to link to your site with the same anchor text. Google knows this. However, you will see websites linking back to you from various anchor texts. This is natural and what you want in your link profile.
No-Follow Links Should Still Be Part of Your Link Profile
I know, most SEOs say that no-follow links are worthless. However, this is a false statement and a few of use believe there is a hidden power with no-follow links. While no-follow links do not “technically” help with ranking, I have a theory that you still need to consider. Again, Google isn’t stupid.
Search engines still see no-follow links but they are told not to consider them. This means that Google can see your profile of follow versus no-follow links. If you are building only do-follow links, this makes your backlink profile look unnatural and could lead to problems with ranking.
So, while a no-follow link will not “directly” attribute to your search rankings, it will (in my opinion) affect it “indirectly.” Again, Google is going to wonder why you have all do-follow and are absent of no-follow links. Using no-follow links should absolutely be part of your diverse link building strategy.
On a side note, no-follow links can also help you with more than just ranking. I receive quite a few leads from no-follow links. They are still clickable links and lead people to your website which can lead to conversion. It also leads to more visitors to your site which also helps with things such as your Alexa ranking.
Link Location is Important
Vary your link location in order to create link diversity. By this I mean you need to obtain backlinks from numerous different domains and also link to various locations of your website.
Don’t simply try to link to your homepage. Most websites won’t link to your homepage anyway, as links, according to Google, need to have value. Your homepage is likely your sales page and only has promotional content.
That is why it is important to start and maintain a blog for your site. These articles, if they contain valuable content, will be more appealing to people who want to link to your site. Mix up links to your homepage, blog, and other landing pages.
When making a list of websites you plan to pitch, make sure to be diverse by choosing varied domains. Include .com, .net, .biz, .org, and .edu on your list. Simple attaching one domain extension will again make it look like you are artificially building links.
Choose websites of various domain authorities. Don’t simply make it a goal to get backlinks from DA50+ websites. I like to set a goal of getting one DA50- site for every DA50+ site.
Vary Your Anchor Text
Everyone has the money keyword they want to rank for. They shoot to link from it every chance they get. This will help you rank quickly but the sustainability is not good and your rank is likely to shift with every algorithm change Google releases.
So what do you do?
Don’t abandon your money keywords. Anchor text is still extremely important for rank. However, mix in a variation of LSI Keywords that you link from. Google sees this as similar to your money keywords and linking to them will show link diversity and also help you rank for multiple and similar keywords.
Using long-tail keywords is also recommended. For instance, let’s assume I am creating a backlink profile for the post you are reading. I can use “diverse link profile” as my anchor text for some locations but they can use other anchors such as “guide to diverse link profile” or “how to obtain link diversity.”
A Diverse Link Profile Can Help if Your Site Gets Penalized by Google
Let’s pretend that although you have a diverse backlink profile, you still wind up getting a Google penalty. Unlikely to happen if you employ Google best practices but let’s assume it’s happened for the sake of this article. How can link diversity help you?
When you get sandboxed, the quickest way to recover is to undo what got you there in the first place. Let’s assume that your penalty is a result of too many backlinks to your homepage. If you have a diverse link profile, this should only be a small percentage of your links. You will be able to correct the issue without losing the majority of your backlinks, while at the same time maintaining all the hard work you put in to get you those links.
Of course, we don’t even want to think of getting penalized and you shouldn’t, as long as you don’t engage in black hat techniques but anything is possible.
Summing it Up
At this point, I am sure you get it. Spread the wealth when it comes to backlinks. Don’t use the same anchor text and choose sites from multiple domain extensions and of various domain authority. Loading your links to your homepage is a sure sign to Google that you are trying to manipulate search results and you will likely be penalized for it.
What other methods of link diversity do you use? How has a diverse link profile helped your search ranking?