How to make your netlinking more efficient and boost your SEO?

Julien Nishimata

There are over 1.8 billion websites in the world (Internet Live Stats). Amidst this crowd, how can you make yours stand out and generate traffic? It’s simple: through natural referencing. And do you know the major lever of SEO? Netlinking, that is to say the establishment and acquisition of links to facilitate the indexation of your pages and increase their authority in the eyes of search engines. But to be successful, a netlinking strategy must be effective and relevant, especially when it comes to obtaining external links (backlinks). Paper Club offers you a dive into the complex world of hyperlinks and natural referencing: you will find clear explanations and best practices galore to succeed in your netlinking campaigns and boost your SEO!

Netlinking, or the art of positioning external links

Hypertext links are an integral part of the Internet’s history. They belong to the very definition of the World Wide Web: an interconnection of different networks, sometimes tens of thousands of kilometers apart, logically linked together. These links allow Internet users to move from one web page to another, and search engine crawlers to understand the logical connections between two pages or two sites, for indexing purposes.

It is therefore not surprising that netlinking is still considered as one of the most important natural referencing levers, especially regarding backlinks: these famous external links (we also talk about an “incoming link”) that, published on third party sites, point to the web page that we want to position better on search engines.

If the concept of netlinking also includes internal linking, i. e. the fact of linking the web pages of a same website between them (an important step for the navigation of the Internet users and for the good understanding of the site architecture by the crawlers), it is especially the external netlinking technique, aiming at obtaining inbound links, which is going to interest us primarily at Paper Club (and which is going to contribute to boosting your SEO)

The importance of a good netlinking strategy for SEO

Why is this aspect of SEO so important? Because external links show the popularity of the site to which they point. They work like signposts by indicating to the crawlers the relevant web pages to be indexed.

If we look at Google’s ranking algorithm, we can see that the website ranking is partly determined by the number of backlinks pointing to it (in the same way that the popularity of a tourist place is revealed by the number of references to it in guides and brochures).

To define the ranking of a web page, Google relies on a simple observation: if referent domains with a high authority “talk” about this page (by publishing external links leading to it), it means that this page is relevant, credible and qualitative, and that it deserves to gain authority and be better positioned. Thus, getting links allows this web page to benefit from the “SEO juice” of the domains that link to it, and the quality of this “juice” depends on the popularity of the site that published the link.

The benefits of netlinking

Now you understand what makes netlinking essential. To simplify things, there are three main benefits:

  • Guide search engine robots (which “surf” on links to index pages).
  • Gain popularity and improve the SEO positioning of a web page.
  • To multiply the entry doors to a site by giving the opportunity to the Internet users to reach it via many links, which makes it possible to generate a more qualified traffic (coming from referring domains with themes close to the targeted pages).

In doing so, it is in a website’s best interest to obtain a large number of external links, and to do so to develop an effective netlinking strategy. However, this netlinking has evolved since the beginning of Google, and the methods that worked yesterday are no longer sacred today.

The evolution of netlinking

Before Google’s 2012 “Penguin” algorithm update, any netlinking technique could be used to boost SEO – including buying links on low-quality “farms” and “directories”, or creating a personal blog network (PBN): approaches considered specific to “black hat” SEO – by focusing on quantity.

But things have changed, and PageRank has been refined by taking into account not only the number of external links, but also (and especially) their quality and the authority score of the referring domains from which they come. So that the anarchic aggregation of links for the purpose of wild netlinking is no longer taken into account by search engines, and may even lead to a penalty.

For several years, therefore, the engines are interested in the quality of netlinking set up by a site. And this is where Paper Club comes into play: by activating the levers that will allow a web page to obtain quality links, from referring domains with a high authority.

The notion of “quality” in netlinking strategy

To understand what we are talking about, let’s take a detour to the notion of “quality” in netlinking.

The quality of an external link depends on four factors :

  • The origin of the backlink, i.e. the authority and popularity of the site that publishes it. An effective link building strategy must take into account this essential point, and start by identifying the most relevant sites on which to try to publish an external link. There are several criteria to determine the relevance of a site: its PageRank, the coherence of the themes addressed and the semantics used, the number of indexed pages, the volume of traffic, the number of external links it has, etc.
  • The link anchor, i.e. the clickable text. On this point, the rules of netlinking are complex: the anchor must be natural or optimized and be consistent with the content of the landing page, but things get more complicated when we take into account all the links. The anchors as a whole must indeed respect certain proportions, for example: a maximum of 3% of links with optimized anchors on strategic keywords, a balance between natural and poorly optimized anchors, anchors that dilute the main keyword by exploiting semantic variations, etc.
  • The positioning of the incoming link on the site and in the web page. Ideally, it should be published on a page relatively close to the home page (three or four clicks away at most), positioned above the waterline (so that the user doesn’t have to scroll down to see it), and inserted in the body of the text (and not in the header, footer or side blocks).
  • The attribution of the link in dofollow. This practice actually refers to the fact of not placing a rel=nofollow attribute on a link or on a web page, with the aim of signaling to crawlers to ignore the incoming link and not to give it any SEO importance. Consequence: a link in nofollow does not generate “SEO juice” and loses much of its usefulness in netlinking. This happens when a site feels that a link is not legitimate or relevant – hence the importance of developing an effective netlinking strategy.

Sounds complex? It is! And that’s why it’s better to entrust your link building strategy to professionals, especially regarding the identification of relevant sites and the choice of anchors (which Paper Club takes care of when you order a sponsored article: you don’t have to manage these aspects).

Natural and artificial links

In terms of link quality in netlinking, another distinction seems important to us: the one that separates natural links from artificial links.

  • Natural external links are published spontaneously by third-party sites. They are the most appreciated by search engines because of their authenticity, since they do not result from any consideration (financial or not). Typically, a webmaster who has appreciated your content will insert a link on his site to refer to your web page. A netlinking technique based on natural links is therefore more effective; but it is also the most risky approach, because you can not control your link acquisition.
  • Artificial external links are published by third-party sites on request. This publication is subject to the respect of conditions established beforehand and, in most cases, of counterparts. Artificial netlinking includes link buying, link exchange, guest-blogging, sponsored article publication, etc. – In short, a large part of the levers of a netlinking strategy. This category also includes backlinks created without the knowledge of the webmasters of the targeted sites, for example when they are published in forums or in comments..

Obviously, natural links are the most qualitative, but they can hardly be the object of a link building strategy because of their random nature. Active netlinking implies 99% of publishing artificial links. But, fortunately, some techniques allow you to obtain “almost” natural links, which will be considered as such by the search engines: this is the case of guest blogging and sponsored articles.

Netlinking methods to boost your SEO

Now that you know what constitutes effective netlinking – the quality of external links – it remains to focus on the implementation of a relevant link building strategy.

The first thing to do, before starting your netlinking campaigns, is to identify the relevant sites to receive your links. As we mentioned above, the authority and popularity of the site are essential; but it is equally important to target referring domains or web pages whose themes are in line with yours. A backlink published on a site dedicated to fishing and referring to a page dealing with SEO will not bring you any “juice” and may attract the attention of search engines on your netlinking.

Then, take into account that the key to success is not only in the quality of each link, but in the consistency of your overall netlinking. Google will not only look at your last incoming link: it will be interested in all the external links that refer to your pages, and evaluate their heterogeneity. It is therefore essential to seek a balance and obtain links from sites with high authority and more confidential, offering various formats (institutional site, blog, social network, forum, directory), etc. This is what allows you to build a netlinking as natural as possible.

Best practices for obtaining quality links

When it comes to obtaining external links, there are several techniques available to you. We will start with the natural link acquisition methods, and continue with the link building levers (from the most effective to the least relevant).

Linkbaiting

Linkbaiting is a netlinking technique that consists in “baiting” webmasters, influencers and Internet users to publish external links to your pages.

This approach allows you to obtain natural links, since they have not been requested by you nor have been the subject of a counterparty. They fully meet the criteria of authenticity of search engines. To do this, it is necessary to publish quality content, with high added value, in various formats, likely to attract attention and encourage users to refer to it.

If it is impossible to base a netlinking strategy exclusively on this lever, linkbaiting should not be neglected. Think of it as a challenge: be able to produce contents of such quality and relevance that they will go viral (especially for an article published on a social network), will be widely shared, and will bring you some genuine links.

The claim of due links

The “links due” remain natural links: it is simply a matter of “pushing” webmasters and Internet users to make them happen!

This netlinking technique consists in identifying the sites that have quoted your brand or one of your contents (article, infographic, image, video…) but without inserting a link, and then contacting them to ask them graciously to repair this “omission”. You can, for this purpose, set up an alert on Google, for example targeted on the name of your company or on the titles of your contents.

This method is too rarely used, but it allows you to obtain qualitative natural links that you would not have benefited from otherwise. But it is subject to the goodwill of webmasters!

Sponsored articles

Let’s enter the category of artificial links with sponsored articles, one of the most effective levers to obtain quality links, therefore to practice a netlinking with high SEO potential.

This technique is relatively simple in its approach: it is to publish content on a third party site with a high authority. There is nothing very original in this – it is also the principle of guest blogging (see below). But it differs from guest blogging on one essential point: the content in question adapts very precisely to the aesthetic and editorial codes of the site that publishes it, which makes it indistinguishable from a classic publication on this same site (except for the mention “sponsored article” or “partner” that indicates it as such).

What is the interest for your netlinking ? The fact of obtaining links…

  • Highly qualified, published on influential, high authority sites that are references in their respective fields;
  • Positioned in the best possible place on the page;
  • Combined with carefully selected anchors (to build a consistent anchor profile) ;
  • In dofollow;
  • Only in the page (so as to benefit from all the “SEO juice” generated by it) ;
  • Almost natural, because it is as if the sites had published them by themselves (nothing allowing to distinguish them from 100% natural links).

Another advantage: sponsored articles are a form of native advertising, precisely because they blend into the pages that host them. They are therefore not read by Internet users as real advertisements. It is, in short, a lever both effective for netlinking in SEO and as part of an advertising strategy.

The writing of a sponsored article can be handled by the target site or by an intermediary. By entrusting your netlinking to Paper Club, you benefit from a partner content published on a site with a high ranking, close to your theme, that we help you choose beforehand (among more than 10,000 media), and from an external link of an indisputable quality.

Guest blogging

As we have seen, the practice of guest blogging is similar to the publication of sponsored articles, except that there is no compensation, neither financial nor in the form of an exchange of links. You write (or have written) content that you publish on a third-party site, free of charge: only the added value of the content constitutes a currency of exchange, which means that it must be particularly qualitative and relevant for the site that hosts it.

But let’s be honest: guest blogging almost only works for sites that are not very influential, or that are very specialized and reach a limited target. Content sponsoring is nowadays the only way to get links from high authority sites, as these sites have taken the habit of averaging their SEO authority and of refusing any content that has not been the object of a compensation.

Indirect netlinking (link exchange)

The expression “link exchange” indicates what it is all about: in indirect netlinking, you publish links on your own site so that third parties do the same on their side. It is a “win-win” agreement that allows both sites to benefit from the authority and the “SEO juice” of the other.

This technique is a partnership. However, it represents a risk: that search engines will notice the trick by spotting the reciprocity of external links. To avoid this, it is advisable to take precautions (by spacing out the publication of links) or to find other counterparts to offer than the insertion of a link (for example, the promotion of the host site on the social accounts of the requester within the framework of an influence marketing).

Buying expired domains

Every day, many domains are abandoned and become available to those who wish to purchase them, because they have not been renewed by their former owner (natural or legal person). Several web tools give you access to the list of these domains, which can be purchased from the registration platforms.

Why is this interesting for netlinking? Because these domains keep their SEO history, especially the external links they have accumulated, and therefore their popularity in the eyes of search engines. By buying a domain and making it your own, you can benefit from its authority and the quality of its existing links.

Nevertheless, this netlinking technique presents some risks: finding a brand that is still active and that could one day claim its domain name; using an unscrupulous SEO who puts the content of the old domain name back online to save time, exposing you to intellectual property disputes (this is a “black hat SEO” method); buying a domain that has been penalized; etc. This means carefully identifying expired domains that might interest you and screening them with a dedicated tool, such as Majestic SEO.

Manual link creation

Let’s finish with a method of netlinking that has had its time, but which is nowadays lacking in relevance – even if it can be useful in some cases: the manual creation of external links. That is to say: inserting links where they will have little added value, in a comment under a blog article, in a post published on a forum, in a directory, etc.

Long and tedious, this netlinking technique is coupled with a low SEO impact, due to the low quality positioning of the links and the fact that they are most of the time passed in nofollow. This approach should therefore not become a pillar of your link building strategy.

You will have understood: netlinking is a must in SEO. But not just any netlinking: your strategy must be based on quality external links, which are close to the level of “natural” expected by search engines. So one of the best levers for an effective netlinking strategy and offering a good SEO boost is the publication of sponsored articles to obtain links from referent domains with high authority. Exactly what Paper Club offers you!