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5 Crucial Link Building Strategies After Google Panda 4.1

Posted By Guest Blogger 9th of October 2014 General 0 Comments

This is a guest contribution from Rizvan Ullah.

Many people have been affected by the chain of Google Panda updates which began to roll out in February 2011. With an influx of information readily available, it’s become more important to provide only the best results for those using Google while skimming through search results. Google has said numerous times that their mission has always been to be the best search engine providing users with solutions to everyday problems, questions, references, etc. However, people are finding clever ways to manipulate the search results affecting the quality of information presented within the search results.

Since much of the manipulation occurs by using deceptive link-building techniques, Google Panda was engineered to find ways to detect these factors and eliminate the websites using them. Just to give you a better understanding of Google’s efforts, they have been focusing on eliminating black hat techniques from February 2011-to-now where they rolled out the latest update recently.

Going forward you can rest assure that Google will continue to tweak their search algorithm to perform better providing more “high” quality results. I’ve always been a strong believer that the success of your website and/or blog has to do with providing “high” quality resources to your readers and using authentic link building techniques.

From my experience, there have been five crucial link building techniques that have stood the test of time and continue to provide high quality traffic to my blog WITHOUT being penalized by Google algorithm updates.

Let’s get started…

1.  Google Ranking Criteria

I’m very surprised at the amount of people that don’t read through what’s changing within the search algorithm because you’ll learn a lot about what direction Google is heading in. If you understand Google’s changing “ranking” criteria, it’s very simple to stay on the clean side of things. First, each time there’s an update, you can find over 50 resources that will provide you with a breakdown of what’s changed. You’ll notice Google Panda 1.0 when it rolled had tweaked a few things which are still relevant today. For example:

  • Eliminating low quality content websites which provide little to NO value to the reader. They compare “value” by comparing the user engagement usually pulled out of Google Analytics.
  • Eliminating websites which contain “thin” content pages. Much of the problem seen was that people would often create one high quality content page hoping to use that as their ranking page. All other pages on the domain would be low, or poor quality content.
  • Eliminating aggregated content websites which distribute content published on other websites or duplicated content. If you are building links from within duplicated content that can impact your rankings within the SERPs.

Since Panda 1.0, this has been the focal point on which Google is trying to improve their search results. Anyway, once you understand the direction in which the search algorithm is heading, you can start to take a proactive roll to ensure that you stay away from specific things.

Read over the Google’s Panda Trends to get a better understanding of how things are changing and what criteria you should follow when incorporating a link building strategy of your own.

2. Diversity In “Everything” Is Good

Thinking that eating salads is the only way to lose weight is the same as thinking “article directories” provide the only real authentic link building juice. However, if you sniff around and do research, you’ll uncover 5-6 awesome techniques that are legit and will provide value to your SEO efforts. The problem is, if you stick to only one method, then Google might think you’re NOT important enough. However if you find the line in between, you’ll be surprised at the value added. It’s true what they say, it’s not always about quantity but quality, and this applies to link building as well.

Over time, I’ve narrowed it down to 3-4 methods which have proven to be very effective…

Guest Posting:

One of the best ways to generate targeted traffic to your blog involves utilizing the traffic of top bloggers within the industry. As experienced bloggers get busier and are unable to create content regularly, they often rely on others to produce content for them. Guest posting opportunities is a great way to get your experienced noticed and you’re rewarded with a link back to your personal blog.

Follow these quick guest posting guidelines…

  • Find “guest posting” opportunities on relevant blogs
  • Make sure the content is high quality since it can lead to more guest posting opportunities.
  • Link to your relevant content within the post and make sure that link is relevant to your guest post.
  • Contact other bloggers directly to build a personal relationship with them. This can lead to further guest posting opportunities increasing the chances of link backs, traffic and user engagement.

Article Directories:

After the recent Google update, people are beginning to question the power of article directories. However, for me, they are still a vital link building strategy if utilized correctly. Here’s an awesome strategy I use:

Only publish content on the best article directories. Look for high PR, DA and PA websites which ONLY publish high quality content. It’ll be a great idea to choose websites which are moderated closely and only publish you’re content once within each article directory. Google has said numerous times it’ll penalize websites which have external and/or internal links from duplicated and/or aggregated websites.

High Quality Content:

When I first starting writing content, I didn’t pay any attention to link building and instead wanted to publish the best pieces of content available on the web. I figured if I published the best content, Google will automatically rank my page higher because it was in-depth and provided the ultimate solution to my readers. You know what…I was right!

When I look through my report, I’ve noticed I’m ranking for keywords WITHOUT any link building efforts. It was amazing what happened and I contribute my rankings to two things…

First, high quality content creates user engagement because I had more social shares then any of my competitors which ranked my content higher than them. When people tend to share your content, it increases the chances that people who own blogs will link back to your content.

Next, Having written content which is 2000+ words provided more leverage allowing me to diversify my keyword portfolio. I was able to increase the keyword density and include LSI keywords (latent semantic keywords). Matt Cutts, head of Web Spam at Google has said having LSI keywords within your content will enhance the flow allowing you to add more related long tail keywords. At this point, when Google indexes my content, it picks up on keywords both “targeted” and “related” improving my chances of ranking for of them.


People have been interacting on forums long before sophisticated search engines like Google were created. User forums were the first ever information hubs which provided a Q&A interface. They are still very effective in providing solutions and if you can create a solid profile for yourself, you can benefit from the traffic. Once you’ve gained credibility, you’re given the opportunity to set up a “signature” located below your forum posts. Many of these are “do-follow” counting as a link back and can generate enormous targeted traffic.

3. Relevance is Important

After Google Panda, relevance is beginning to play an even more important role in link building. Google understands the importance of providing information which is organized and relevant to its users. The challenge is to be able to do this effectively especially with so many people using manipulative strategies that have worked in the past. Previously, it was about getting high authoritative links from high quality websites. It’s recently changed to getting high authoritative links from “relevant” high quality websites.

In the future, when building links, it’s important to pay close attention to the content on their website. It’s even more important to pay attention to the sites linking into the site you plan on building a link from. Consider link building a chain effect, meaning, finding websites not only relevant to you but a group of websites relevant to each other.

4. Anchor & Related Keywords

There have been many questions regarding “anchor” text and the correct way to use it within your content. Google has adopted a new strategy where head and/or anchor text no longer holds as much value as before. Google uses latent semantic indexing to relate phrases together so phrases like “small business web hosting” are the same as “corporate web hosting plans”. How come Google made this change?

People have been changing the way they search for information. They use long tail keywords and are becoming more specific. Google being able to relate phrases together allow them to provide more specific search results from a variety of search phrases. It increases the natural flow of the content and provides a more specific user experience.

What can you do?

It’s time to start mixing up your keyword phrases so that things look more natural in your content. For example, include both “targeted” and “related” keywords in your content to increase the diversity of the links. There are many tools that can generate variations of keywords from your “targeted” keyword. The easiest is to use Google search bar…

For example, when you type in the phrase “building a website”, Google automatically displays several related searches right below. Make a list because you can include them when creating your content.

Screen Shot 2014-10-09 at 3.59.09 pm

5.  Don’t Follow Competitors, It Can Hurt You!

We all love competition because it keeps you motivated and it can provide you with valuable information. You can use tools to find the “link” profile of your competitors and use it to build your own backlinks. However, things are beginning to change and carving out your own identity is the way to go. Many of your competitors have been around for years and some might have used link building techniques that might be considered “black-hat” or flagged by Google. If you use these strategies today, it can have a huge impact on your rankings often causing a decrease of 30%-40% and/or even getting you banned from the SERPs (search results).

After Google Panda 4.1, it’s important to build your own brand which includes using strategies outside the box.

Many times link building is NOT what to do compared to what to do which is why you should try different things and stick to the ones which work well. For example, guest posting on relevant blogs can produce amazing results driving “targeted” traffic to your website. Next, you can decrease the websites you use to build links from i.e…

  • Focus on high authority websites with high PR
  • Focus on websites with higher than normal domain and page authority
  • Focus on websites which are relevant to your blog and/or website
  • Only build links from the best article directories
  • Only build links from the best forums

Before, the focus was on building links from as many websites no matter what their link profile, PR, reputation and relevance. Now, however,  it’s time you tweak your strategy. Start to pay close attention to the websites you publish content on or build direct links from. You’d be surprised how many of them can harm your efforts just because they have a poor link profile and are known as lower quality websites.

Just remember to think outside the box and try things which your competitors are NOT doing. This can help build your brand and add value to your blog in such a way that it will increase your rankings within the long-run. Here’s a great example:

Recently, I started to experiment with PBN (private blog networks) which consist of creating smaller “high” authority websites. The twist is that you purchase websites and/or expired domains which have already built their authority but the owner forgot to renew them. What’s does this provide for me…

  • A relevant domain with an established PR
  • A website with an established domain and page authority
  • A website which can provide awesome link power right from the start

It’s a great way to streamline the process of building a website from the beginning and one with a solid reputation. There is a strict criteria that needs to be followed when building these websites however if done correctly, they can provide awesome ranking power for years to come. I’ve been performing a PBN case study and the results have been pretty impressive. However, the point I’m trying to make is you need to try things that others aren’t. You need to tweak different strategies so that it’s both beneficial to you and does NOT raise any red flags with Google. Private Blog Networks are perfect as long as you’re adding value and NOT spamming.

Rizvan Ullah is the founder of Ranktactics, which provides internet marketers with tutorials on traffic generation, social media marketing, product reviews, and case studies. Learn how to create a profitable blog step-by-step from the ground up. Get started by reading his expert roundup post on effective link building techniques. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

About Guest Blogger
This post was written by a guest contributor. Please see their details in the post above.
  1. Hey Rizvan,

    Thanks for the writeup,but i doubt it if article directories are still okay for getting backlinks without getting a slap from google later in future,morealso,you didnt say anything about getting backlinks from commenting,are you insinuating that it is a dead method?

  2. Very useful information after releasing Google Panda 4.1 thanks Darren for sharing this great post specially Article Directories posting rules.

  3. It has been a while since I commented here, but have been completely enjoying the training Darren! I had to leave something here though based on the fact I AM IN TOTAL AGREEMENT with everything stated about link building here.

    I have found that link building has changed more than most have truly “wanted” to believe. We get caught up in doing things a certain way here, but this goes to prove that some things do change and, for the good.

    Thanks for the post…great one!

  4. SEO and getting good rankings continues to be a major concern for bloggers and Internet marketers. One thing I personally tell people today referenced article marketing is when you write and submit content to any article directory, make sure that content is not only unique, but, that’s the only article directory you are submitting that original writing to. Many people today still don’t know submitting the same article to multiple article directories will hurt their search engine rankings and possibly get their site de-listed in a matter of months from Google and YaHoO!

    Many people also make the bigger mistake of using automated blog commenting programs to leave the same comment on multiple WordPress blogs in hopes of instantly building links. Search engines notice this and they do compare blog comments from other WP blogs.

    If a person takes the time to write unique content even if it’s one post a day like you said in about 2000 words or close to 2000 words “1000+ is okay also” even one time a day to their blog or website, they can potentially look forward to good search engine rankings in 6 to 9 months. Of course, they’ll have to be publishing at least 6/7 days a week to their site just once a day in order to get better rankings and survive future Google panda updates.

    A lot of people don’t have the patience to create unique content on a daily basis and resort to “easy street,” by using automated programs to aggregate content from other sites. Those people never prosper with their Internet marketing efforts. Like you said, this is why it’s important to create unique content and add value to your readers because this is the meat and potatoes of your site’s success.

  5. Diversity in everything matters a lot. There should be diversity in anchor texts, keyword usage, etc. Be natural.

    Stuffing the keywords and expecting rankings may be a bad idea. As the whole seaech game is turning towards the semantic search. It’s essential to use LSI keywords along with the main keywords.

    It’s time to reconsider your seo strategy with that of semantic search perspective.

    Really loved this post Panda article. Thanks for sharing, Rizvan.

    Akshay Hallur.

  6. I believe in long run, Google will be clever enough to distinguish what is good content, even link building will be vanished.

  7. very informative and helpful post bro. The point i like the most in this post is yes we should always be updated with the changes and updates of Google’s algorithms and most of the peoples ignored it.

  8. Hi Darren,

    Yet again, another interesting post filled with lots of insights. As a result of this, I will be the first to share this article on my social networks. All the strategies which you have discussed in your article are very useful in this scenario.

    Thanks for sharing such an excellent and informative post :)

  9. Hey, I have a tech blog, i have written over 300 posts and all are real. But still i don’t get a good traffic from search engine.

    I get more than 10,000 hits daily from facebook.

    Help me!

    • Hi,

      You need to be creative!

      Traffic is NOT always about what you do…but sometimes who you know! Take advantage of other avenues like Guest Posting, Social Media, etc.

      Start building an email list so you can get returning visitors to your blog!

    • Hi Abhishek,

      Keyword research is very crucial factor. If you never use Google Planner, this is your the biggest mistake. You can also use free tool like keywordtool.io to generate keyword suggestion from Google.


  10. hey rizwan,hey darren
    really appreciate this help i needed to improve my blog,well although i didnt get hit so much by 4.1 i would love to use these tips to make my blog pure

  11. No doubt these days link building is more about quality than quantity. We should not have one source of link building only, we should aim at generating backlinks in different ways and should aim at getting links from quality and relevant websites only.

    Learning for me from this post is about competitors links. In the past, I used to find the links that my competitors have made and blindly try building links from the same sources without thinking much about the time when those links were made. Now I will be more active while copying link resources of my competitors websites.

  12. As the number of internet marketing is growing, spammers are also growing.

    Google is struggling to find something which can stop the spamming and make this internet a better place. In last 3-4 years we have seen big change in ranking algorithms and day by day Google is making it tough.

    Getting links from relevant high authority sites is the key which is never going to die.

    Thanks for compiling such awesome link building tips to make bloggers life easier. ;)

  13. Excellent article! Love to hear more about the private blog networks. -Dave

  14. Really nice article and very useful too and i t helped me a lot as my site also got hit by Pand 4.1 and it decreased my traffic thanks for sharing yout pro tips :)

  15. Thanks Darren,
    i always enjoy reading you article, keep it up more of this .

  16. Many got penalized for using private blog networks, it’s recommended to stay away from shady link building tactics or end up like ones got penalized, lost everything.

  17. Great post I think link building is one of the most important aspect on which we must pay attention but don’t just blindly go out and starting build link specially there are many spam websites which are offering links which I think are of no use and might get your blog penalized so the best way is to be natural and try to focus on building quality links which will be more beneficial as compared to cheap link

    Rohit Singh

  18. Quality content and inbound links from highly relevant sources. Diversity, diversity, diversity. And you can also use GWMT to for keyword discovery in the “Search Queries” tab. It’s interesting to see what your sites have been given an impression for in the SERPs. Good post.

  19. Hey,this is truly a great post from you.Thanks for this.I really needed this for my blog.

  20. And this post is an example of what is preached.. “guest posting” bet a lot of traffic went to this bloggers website from this post.

  21. Google Panda is pretty much a content quality filter. Low value content can cause the algorithm to bring down your entire site even if a great deal of your content is unique and valuable.

  22. Hey Rizwaan,

    Thanks for sharing this awesome post. Google becomes smarter day by day so smart link building strategy is very important otherwise we waste our efforts and time. I really liked the point about anchor tag and competitor. Though Competitor analysis is important but we should not create backlink blindly according competitor backlink profile.

  23. Hi
    Great Post. Google is very clever to see the quality content much more.Thanks for the sharing an informative article.

  24. Hi, as always you rock man.Pretty interesting stuffs.Thanks for Sharing this informative article,helpful one .

  25. Hi Rizvan,

    One word for your post it’s “fantastic”. After reading this post I’ve found a lot of ways to build links and reputation and is legal. Great stuff.

    Thanks for sharing this :)

  26. Very informative article. Thanks for putting this up for us.
    I have always believed that the content you publish really defines the type of blogger you are. People visit your website to read your content and that is what makes them come back for more. Also, keyword research is pretty important, however you need to make sure you don’t over do it.

  27. It will be interesting to see how much they take social shares into account in the future since they now have promoted ads for all of the major social media networks. If they ever make it a big priority then you might be able to buy your way up the serp ladder while gaining traffic and shares through your ads.

    How long would you say that a consistent link building strategy takes to pay off in the SERPS?

  28. Thank you. Very usefull information in the light of all these changes Google does.

  29. Seriously dudes? Panda is an on-page update and has nothing to do with link-building.

    • Hi,

      Well…not necessarily!

      If you are building links to and from thin content websites…it will deplete the value of your website. This is why websites linking from PBN’s got hit with manual penalties. Your PBN websites where full of low quality websites then linking to your “target” website. It’s important to build links from high authority websites which reflect the quality of your authority.

      If you look at the history of Panda since Feb 2011, you’ll notice a trend which targets the way you write content and build links.

  30. I can tell you firsthand from writing and submitting articles to articles directories that article marketing still works. It’ll inspire you to tap into your writing creativity to see what you’re made of, especially if you are writing daily from scratch and all content is of your thoughts and original. Best way to defeat future Google Panda updates with content marketing is to use speech recognition and allow your brain to make those words appear on your computer screen, so you don’t have to manually type anymore.

  31. Hi… thanks for explaining, I want to ask about point 5 : don’t follow competitors. Honestly, almost every webmaster will use tools like backlink checker and he or she will take one or more of the competitors right? Can you sxplain more? Sincerely yours. This blog really contain great contents :)

  32. Brilliant post, some of these things I didn’t realise! Thank you for sharing

  33. Great post Rizvan! Article directories are really shifty anymore. I sometimes wonder if you should use them more for developing your online reputation rather than link building. Focus on writing fresh and unique articles on article directories just to improve your name and image on the web and stick to link building elsewhere. What do you think about that idea?

  34. There will be more to come besides Google Panda, we just have to be prepared, anyway it is helpful.

  35. Teddy Novak says: 10/15/2014 at 2:01 pm

    If Google’s so awesome at indexing and ranking, why is everything ehow, wikihow, and livestrong? Horrible content sites that are major arbitrage ad businesses that pay Google a ton of adwords money. Hmm… sounds like fixed crap to me.

    • Hi,

      However Adwords is not organic. If you are paying, of course your going to rank higher then anyone else. Google is in the business of making money or they got to answer to their share holders, etc.


      If they are still ranking high in the SERP’s, it can be other factors which play a huge role. Either way, poor low quality content “pages” will be removed anytime now. We’ve never seen so many updates in such frequency ever!

  36. Great tips, I have also tried to sort few tips on have mentioned in my blog. But these all are additionally so I should say its amazing and actionable. I strongly suggest the business owner to focus on writing good stuff on their own blog instead of submit on article directories. And don’t forget the power of internal linking.

  37. Rizvan,
    We have been managing blogs (in a separate folder, same root domain) for years, adding relevant content
    back to the core website using various configurations of anchor text. This is considered internal linking of course, but we have build the strength and ranking of our clients sites tremendously this way. Links are added and relevant content is added to the site at the same time.

    We experimented with a couple external domains that we controlled for the client and after 2 years of building great content that linked to our clients site we got the message in Webmaster Tools that they felt the site was spam. This was because it was an external domain that only linked back to our clients site. It was one of their properties, but Google devalued it horribly. So, after that we keep company blogs on the root domain.

    Any thoughts?

    • Hi Frank,

      You mentioned that your external domain ONLY linked back to your clients website. If this is the case, I can see how the website was marked as spam. This is because Google knows when a site only links to one site that usually it is the same owner or someone working for the owner building links. You need to make all external websites look natural and like separate owners. I would suggest writing content with only 1/4 published linking back to your “main” or “targeted” website. I put together a post which talks about Google deindexing external domains because of them being private blog networks.


      Please take a look and let me know when you have any more questions. Basically, diversify the linking so that the blog looks natural and you as NOT the owner.

  38. After each update, google has changed the entire system of building links. Therefore, to ensure your blogs don’t get hit, it is better to make everything natural rather than force links. That is my strategy.

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