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How do you build Quality Backlinks?

The following discussion has been summarised from the 20th installment of +Dumb SEO Questions Google+ Hangout.

Asked by Yura Arsov

Full Question:

Yesterday I took on a new project for SEO, the company provides e-commerce development services, which had undertaken SEO earlier. The previous SEO company had used social bookmarking and directory submissions to get backlinks. After the 17th January 2013, the company lost its ranking on the majority of their keywords. When they checked Google Webmaster Tools, 70% of their backlinks had vanished.

Please advise on what link building tasks I should undertake for quality link building for this e-commerce company?


In short:

Why have most of my backlinks disappeared? And how can I build quality links for a business?

Responses from SEO Questions Hangout

Jim Munro: A lot of people around the 17th of January did report issues, it was very evident that something was going on. While Google never confirmed that there was an update on the 17th, they did confirm that there was an update on the 22nd. Thoughts?


Dan Petrovic: Because a lot of their link profile was based on social bookmarks or low quality directories, what happened was not necessarily a penalty, the links were just disqualified from having any impact. Those links shouldn’t play any role to start with. Many of the pages that the links are on may not be indexed.

Some people argue that these links are still counted, or they have a little value. In terms of quality link building tactics for a website like this, you have to look deeply at what this company does, how they interact in the business world and look at every possible connection that the business has. I would avoid doing anything too templated or too large scale. Make sure that all your backlinks are there for a reason, and make sense in context.

Come up with some questions for this business:

  • Where are you located?
  • Where do you rent your space?
  • Who cleans your office?
  • Who is your service providers?
  • Who do you supply to?
  • Where did you study?
  • Do you speak at any events?
  • What are the annual expos or exhibitions that you engage?
  • Are you part of any local meetup groups?
  • Where do your kids go to school, is there something that you can engage with there?
  • Are there any events that you can cover?

The options for link building are pretty limitless and depend on the business that you are working with. Work in that area, don’t get involved with Social Bookmarks and Directories.


Lyndon Na: People keep focussing on Algorithm pushes. Google makes adjustments without announcing them all the time, some are tiny, some have a knock on effect. just because they haven’t announced it, doesn’t mean they haven’t made a change. The other thing to consider is that sometimes they may take manual action. if they take out 15 directories, it’s going to have a knock-on effect for many sites. There’s often more to it than big algorithm updates.


Rob Wagner: I think Dan covered pretty well. I would look locally and build relationships. If you’re working with a client, get the client involved in this process and get their real voice out there. Also look for some trade organisations that the client can be involved in. There’s an endless stream of ways you can get links. Avoid the bad ways, don’t submit to a thousand directories. Do it in a way that is real, you can get your organisation involved in charities or blood drives, but don’t do it for the link, do it because it’s something that is real to you.



Avoid social bookmarking and directory submissions at all costs. These are not natural ways to build quality backlinks and will not only add little value to your site, they can be the targets of a Penguin scan.

Look deeply into how your client operates and find authentic ways to build relationships and links that are relevant to their business. Ask your client questions to determine these opportunities and get them involved in the process. Be proactive in identifying low quality incoming links, If you can’t think of a legitimate reason for a link to your site, request that it is nofollowed, or disavow it.


Question addressed in Google Hangout:

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