Until a few years ago it was the way to get your site higher in Google, but nowadays the attention seems to have shifted completely to ‘high-quality content’. Is the active collection of backlinks no longer important in 2018?

I have been a supporter of the ‘high-quality content’ stream for almost five years, but backlinks are still very important for your ranking in Google, according to Matt Cutts from Google in this video:


The video is already a few years old, but according to Rik Engelen ( SeoMarketingDeals.com ) and linkbuilding expert from the very beginning, still up-to-date. Rik Engelen has offered help and advice for SEO to Youfone.nl, Fastfuriousscooters.nl , ITprogrammeur.com , Dutch & Belgian SEO agencies and an international SEO service provider like Majestic.

But we all know that Google is very alert to spamming their database. And link building has a somewhat seedy image. That is why I asked Rik if link building anno 2018 still makes sense. “Yes,” he answered firmly. “You just have to know how to use it responsibly.”

I asked him to share his best linkbuilding tips for marketers and entrepreneurs with us and you can read them below.

What is link building again? A little history.

Linkbuilding is actively trying to get more relevant links to your website (backlinks). When you successfully apply this strategy, you will benefit from it in two ways:

  1. You get more direct visitors thanks to the links.
  2. You get more visitors thanks to a higher listing in Google.

As many backlinks as possible. natural link profile

‘Hey, that’s handy’, many marketers thought. ‘If I now just take care of as many links as possible, we will automatically get higher in Google’.

And that’s how a whole industry arose with linksites, fake blogs full of references and other tricks to fool the search engine.

Linkbuilding is anno 2018

In the meantime these Black Hat SEO techniques are no longer working. Without a natural link profile , your website will have to deal with the infamous Google penalties and a lower listing in the results.

But according to SEO guru Brian Dean , your link profile is still one of the most important ranking factors for your website. In his words:

“The number of referring domains is one of the most important ranking factors in Google’s algorithm, as you can see from this chart from Moz :”

link root domains

Y-axis: number of referring root domains. X-axis: position on search results page (serp).

‘You only need good content’

But link building is time-consuming and complex. That is why many companies are now (rightly) focusing on other pillars of search engine optimization (SEO).

For example a secure , fast loading website with a clear internal link structure and of course qualitative and relevant content .

READING: What are the most important SEO Trends in 2018?

According to Rik Engelen, the balance is lost: “In practice, we encounter organizations that have already spent 5,000 or 6,000 euros on an SEO company. But they do not get more visitors. ”

“The assumption is that with each week a new article automatically gets more traffic because people share those pieces. That will only be difficult if you do not have visitors. Moreover, not every average Dutch company can produce super-distributable viral content. ”

He therefore advocates working on a natural link profile in a responsible manner. Below you can read how you do that.

What should you do in link building?

But first the absolute traitors. According to Rik Engelen, with these techniques you get a penalty rather than a higher ranking:

  • Blinking your link on forums or blogs (you may respond to an article with a link, but only if it is relevant).
  • Links of irrelevant pages (for example, a butcher who refers to a hairdresser, up to 10% of the links).
  • Only links in 1 category (for example, only links in business aggregate pages).
  • Too fast, too many links want to place (Google will quickly mark this as an unnatural growth).
  • Links on pages with a low authority (check the domain authority with a tool like Open Site Explorer ).
  • All links to 1 page (do not direct all your backlinks on the homepage or product page, but divide them over at least 4 pages).
  • Focus all links on 1 keyword (it’s smarter to focus on multiple keywords, at least start with 3)
  • One month, not another month (it is suspicious if one month 50 left and the next month no).

And of course go into the sea with an unreliable party for buying links , more on this later in this article.

How do you build a strong and natural link profile?

What then is the way to get more links to your own pages? Rik Engelen sees it as an integral part of SEO:

“Link building is linked to your keyword research. You identify a number of terms on which you want to be found. ”

READING: Keywords research: This is how you find the ‘winners’

Then you can use tools like Moz , Semrush and Majestic to find websites that score well on these terms. This is how you can:

  • find out on which site you would like to get a link;
  • find out which sites link to your competitors.

Diverse built-up link profile

But it’s not just about the ‘top scorers’: “You prefer to build a link profile as much as possible in width. So from all kinds of sources and about 75% of websites and 25% from social media. ”

100% relevant does not have to

A misunderstanding is that all links must be 100% relevant: “Google is a natural link profile. There is quite some room for non-relevant links. If I am a bicycle repairer and my cousin has a barber shop, I could also link to it. Limit the number of non-relevant links to a maximum of 10%. ”

Build your link profile

Time to get started! According to Rik Engelen, you build up your link profile with both free and paid links that you can purchase on websites such as Sitedeals.nl , Fiverr.com , Peopleperhour.com , SeoMarketingDeals.com or Blackhatworld.com . The latter may be scared but you can go for just strong backlinks. These are the best known ways:

Post guest blog

Linkbuilding best practices Majestic Topical Trust Flow

With a guest blog you share your expertise on an external website. This is especially useful when this site has a high domain authority and topical trust flow for the subject you want to write about. Better known websites will often ask for compensation for this.

Compilation page

Linkbuilding best practices start page

Although Google has taken over most of the traffic, sites such as startpagina.nl are still being used. Also think of a link on the page of your branch and business association.

Social media

A quick win is to at least place a link in the profiles of your Twitter, Instagram and / or YouTube channel. You could also start working with a (micro) influencer.

Link exchange

Links can be exchanged with other websites, if this is also relevant to the visitor. Think of a link exchange with a comparable company in an adjacent region or a supplier of related products.


With an advertisement on an online Marketplace you not only have a valuable sales channel, but you also work on your link profile.


You can actively encourage customers to leave reviews on well-known sites such as KiyOH or The Feedback Company . Conversely, you can offer vendors themselves to write a review for them which they then place (with link!) On their website.


A backlink on Wikipedia can potentially be very valuable. For example, you could call an in-depth article on your website as a source. If you have not been active on Wikipedia for a long time, there is a good chance that your changes with link will be considered suspicious.

Nofollow VS dofolow left

You may wonder why so-called ‘nofollow’ links belong in your link profile. For example, Google requires that paid links, such as banners or ads, contain a noffolow atribute. Also links in comments on forums and blog posts should be nofollow from Google. But if these are on a strong website with high DA Google will still bring revealed research . In addition, you also create a more natural profile in the width.

What is more effective: do link building yourself or outsource?

Linkbuilding is not a ‘quick fix’. Building a strong link profile takes time . But with smart link building, according to Rik Engelen, it is good to see increasing visitor traffic after about three months: “Of course, it depends on the number and quality of the links that you can place at that time.”

“Some marketers go to work full of enthusiasm and then notice that it costs a lot of mail traffic before you have arranged 1 link exchange.”

He therefore advises companies to outsource at least part of their link building to companies because they can place links much more effectively. These companies can be found on the aforementioned portals.

What should you pay attention to when buying backlinks?

Finally, Engelen gives tips for outsourcing link building: “On the aforementioned freelance portals, such as Fiverr, you will also find the necessary offers to place thousands of high quality links for a few euros. I would absolutely not do that. If it sounds too good to be true, it usually is. ”

Where should the company you hire meet? “I would simply ask for results. How did you help other customers to get higher in Google with backlinks? And can I also call them to ask them for themselves? ”

Without good content, no link building.
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Conclusion: Linkbuilding remains necessary (but is more difficult)

Linkbuilding has been given a bad name thanks to dubious practices (volspammen fora, linkfarms, fake blogs). Google punishes websites that use these black hat techniques with a lower listing.

Leaving out completely is also not a smart strategy. With a responsible and diverse link profile you not only get more direct visitors, but you also score higher in Google.

Marketers who prefer to outsource link building choose the best for a link building expert with a proven track record in the long term.

Reading tip: Linkbuilding best practices

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