Link building as a publisher, really?!
What if you already have over 125.000 referring root domains to your site and you’re getting another x.xxx new ones every month? Are you still spending time on building links and how do you deal with them in general? In this blog post, I’d like to shine some light on how we approach link building at The Next Web. We’re a technology publisher focused on bringing you news around international technology, business and it’s culture.
You want to make sure that the quality of your links is as high as possible. As search engines provide you with the possibilities to disavow the links that do have a lower quality and could harm the overall quality of your link profile, it’s important that you look after them.
Every once in a while we try to look at the link profile of ourselves to see what we could do to not harm ourselves with dangerous links. But the main reason we do this is to see what kind of opportunities it brings. As we want to make absolutely sure that we know about the good links as well that we’ve gotten as they might lead to bigger partnerships in the end.
So how do we evaluate these links and clean them?
Obviously at first we measured to export our whole backlink profile. As we compared our backlink profile to our competitors, it became obvious that we had certain issues that they didn’t. What we noticed was that we had a large number of backlinks per domain, which makes sense if you buy footer links for your backlink profile. But as we don’t do that, we started to investigate this more and found that certain sites took the syndication of our content a bit too literal. We like working with certain other publishers that use our content for their audiences as well. Within the publishing industry that is a pretty common strategy. But in this case there were a couple of very low quality sites that completely copy/pasted all of our articles through i.a. our RSS feeds without our agreement and/or don’t contribute the article back to us. As these sites rarely have a good looking backlink profile themselves, it became apparent that we didn’t want to take any risks with them. We listed them and made sure that we were right about the decision we made before disavowing them.
In the screenshot below, it clearly shows that this site was a fan of our content because it kind of looks like ours.
Techwebbies and the original article on The Next Web. For the real geeks, you probably noticed that they’re even linking back the canonical to themselves ;-).
But as I mentioned above, how do we find the other opportunities? What if you get multiple links now and then from the same referring domains? Well clearly they could already like your content.
Wouldn’t you want to appreciate that and build an even better relationship with these kinds of people? I know I would, that’s why we’re always looking for these hidden treasures amongst our back link profile and reach out to them to see what the possibilities are.
Link building v.s. Link earning?
Do we really spend time on reaching out to other sites or are we guest posting our way to a bigger link profile? No, obviously we don’t. In our case, we’re sure that the traffic from organic search won’t be influenced by the 10 links that we would be able to built on a monthly basis (maybe).
Instead we try to focus on creating quality content that will, by itself, attract high quality links. We’re a publisher in the end, so that makes a lot of this very easy. But still keeping the quality high is something that our (currently) 15 editors have a good eye for. In total they push out around 30-40 blog posts / news articles out on an average day. Most of them are focused around the news topics that come up on an everyday basis: Google changing their logos, Lenovo coming up with a new product or Facebook possibly adding a dislike button.
What makes it link worthy? We might be first, we might have an interesting opinion and sometimes we just got lucky and the article took off and mostly people might have read our article versus a similar one of our competitors. Which sometimes gets us links from the New York Times or Yahoo News. Do they have a high domain authority or TrustFlow? They definitely do. Is it the most important metric to us? Definitely not. I’d rather have the traffic from these links and an additional nofollow tag if needed then every week a link from NYT (hopefully they’re not reading the article though, please keep linking to us).
My point? Don’t build links for SEO but make sure they relate to your business goal. For The Next Web we’re focused on getting a bigger reach. As that makes it easier for us to build our brand and with that make money through selling tickets to our conferences. So is your SEO strategy really focused around the right metrics to hit your business goals in the end and is your link building strategy really helping with that? I hope so!