Truths about Off Page SEO and Link Building

I get a lot of questions about my Off Page SEO and Link Building and there are some important reasons why I can’t reasonably share everything I do.

First and foremost, link building is a deep rabbit hole where each answered question reveals several more questions. Explaining some details usually leads to more details needing to be explained. And some things are difficult to explain beyond, “it is based upon my experience working on thousands of sites over the years.” Essentially, I would have to teach someone about ALL of SEO in order for them to really understand what I’m talking about and that is not a service I provide because it is far more costly to me than just doing the SEO.

Secondly, I’ve signed NDA’s in order to acquire certain techniques, so I can’t share those items with others.

There are more reasons, but those are two of the biggest and most obvious.

Those reasons said, I do try to explain on a high level what I’m doing and what I’m about. In the following video, I try to elaborate on some of the questions I get and discuss some important points about Off Page SEO.

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Approximate Transcription:

Hi, David Hood here, the Dallas SEO Geek. And this video is about uncovering more information about the off-page SEO and link-building.
This is still a critical rank factor. Always has been. And for a very, very long time, if not for our entire lives, it always will be.
It’s a huge part of why Google was able to take the market share. Their results were better because they were looking at links. And they were doing it in a very sophisticated way. And they continue to do so today. It’s still a huge, huge part of their algorithm.
Hopefully this will answer a lot of the questions I get about my link-building. Obviously I can’t give, and even if I were to make this video two hours long, I can’t tell you everything that I do for my link-building.
First of all, there’s just more than that to cover, and a lot of what I do is based upon my experience and looking at and working with thousands of sites over the years and studying the algorithms, and there’s just too much information to give in a quick video.
But I am going to try to clear up some of the things. And then also there’s one other thing that I have signed non-disclosure agreements in order to get high-quality information in some cases. So there are certain things that I’m just not legally able to tell you.
But at the same time, when this is done well, you see results. Your ranking goes up. And I’m going to talk a little bit more about that in a second.
So let’s first talk about how Google looks at links. First of all, and this is a really big assumption that people have out there, and it’s understandable because, when you’re building links, this is sort of how you can look at it. But a lot of people think Google classifies links, like this a social media link, this is a blog post link, this is a blog comment link, or whatever. And that’s just not true. At least, by and large what I see. Maybe there’s a few cases where they do classify. Maybe if it’s like hacked or something. But I don’t think they classify it like that.
It’s just a link. It’s an algorithm, a very smart algorithm, that looks at the links. And it’s more about the properties of that link, of that page, of that domain, that affects what it thinks about. So it’s not so much about types as it is about properties. A blog comment link can be very different with different properties. One can have no effect, or can hurt you, and one can actually help you. Despite the fact that some people think it’s sort of like 2011 SEO, just blog comments. Well, that’s because those people don’t really understand why they worked in the first place, and why they can continue to work, and why a lot of them don’t work. There’s a big difference. Again, it has more to do with the properties of the link than it does the type of the link.
OK. Also, I’ve got the timing versus current snapshot. A lot of people say, well, are we building too quickly or too slowly, or do we want to just kind of drip it out? By and large what I’ve found is that Google doesn’t really track the timing of links very much. And it doesn’t really matter a whole lot. It can matter. This is not always true.
But generally how I think they look at links is what is it like right now. What are the links we know of right now? There are test cases where we built links all at once, all up front, and did nothing for a very long time, and the rankings went up and they stayed where they’re at. And as long as those links stayed, the rankings generally stayed. Obviously algorithm tweaks and competitors come in and kind of move things around. But by and large, we’ve stayed the same.
That doesn’t mean they aren’t looking at this a little bit in very specific scenarios. It’s a little bit of a red herring. As long as they’re quality links and they’re built properly, then you can build them pretty much as fast as you’re able to.
OK. Anchor text is still huge. So, anchor text, if you don’t know, is what you would click on for the link. So if I were to … let’s say this was a web page and I wanted to hyperlink this up to my homepage, then they anchor text pointing to my site would be the words “anchor text,” the phrase “anchor text.” And this is still huge, and it still adds a lot of relevance. And it is also a place where you can be over optimized. But more often than not, I tend to see either no links or, if you have a lot of links, then you haven’t really done SEO. Then the anchor text is more around your brand. But this is still something that’s really important, and it needs to be taken into consideration.
Power, for a lack of a better term, I think of this as maybe authority. It’s not quite quantity of links, because not all links are created equal. The value of a link from one site to the other can just be orders-of-magnitude different. I mean, it can be millions, or hundreds of thousands, or thousands of times more powerful than the other. Getting a link from the homepage of versus a link from some hacked random Russian site … the difference is just ginormous in terms of the overall power.
So, you kind of need all three of these, this trifecta here: power or authority, trust, and relevance. Trust is different than power. Power, again, has to do with … it’s sort of like the overall popularity of your website in terms of how many people like it. And now, if there’s a really popular site that links to your site, that one link adds a lot of power, adds a lot of popularity. Because that website is popular. Hopefully you can understand now, this is not a simple calculation. It’s sort of like what you see here. It’s not just about the links pointing to your site, it’s also about the links pointing to your site. And so on. It goes deeper than that.
That’s kind of a whole system that Google does look at least three tiers deep. And so, I think, with each tier though, it becomes exponentially more computational-intensive for them to do it, so they don’t look super, super deep. But they do look pretty deep. And they do look at things holistically.
So trust is different than power. Trust has more to do with how close you are to what they call the [inaudible 00:06:23] of trusted sites. So how close are your links to being trusted, to being sources of information, websites, that they highly, highly trust. And if all your links … let’s say if all your links are coming from a lot of low-quality websites that don’t have a lot of trust, and those sites don’t have a lot of trusted sites point at them either, then this is going to be how Google looks and finds spam in a lot of cases. So trust is very important, and it’s just as important as power … well, it kind of depends on the circumstance, but it’s something that definitely needs to be taken into consideration.
Now relevance, this is something that a lot of people misunderstand. And some people say relevance is not important, some people say relevance is important. The biggest problem with saying … is what does relevance mean? What makes something relevant? And the difference between as human visitor to a website saying this is relevant to my topic, and Google coming and crawling the site and saying this is relevant to the topic are just … they can be completely different.
What constitutes relevance … I recommend you go and watch “The Top 4 Most Important Factors for SEO,” and that is what’s going to constitute relevance. It has less to do with the content and more to do with what’s the most important factors that Google uses to look at, to determine what a site is about. For example, your domain name. If there’s a domain linking to you that is, and you get a link pointed to your site about plumbing from that site, you know, that’s not a relevant link, no matter how much content about plumbing … like, if the whole site is about plumbing, but the domain is, that’s going to really hurt relevance overall.
And how much relevance do you need? It depends. It depends on how much relevance your competitors have. So, none of these is there a hard pass. Well how much power do I need? How much trust do I need? How much relevance do I need? It’s not a simple answer. But it’s something that needs to be taken into account in all the links that you build.
Next I want to talk about the link-tracking tools. So, like, Ahrefs … this is my favorite one. This is what I use to analyze a lot of sites. But none of these tools are perfect. All of these tools have flaws. Ahrefs, Moz, and Majestic can be blocked. And a lot of links I build, I do block those links so my clients’ competitors can’t track those links. Just because you don’t see links in Ahrefs or you do see links in Ahrefs, that doesn’t mean that that explains all that has been built.
All three of these tools that crawl the Internet have delays in when they find the links. They don’t necessarily find the links right away. And they don’t find every link. Now, Ahrefs is pretty good. They catch a lot of links. Moz is just terrible. And they’ve gotten worse over the last couple years. A lot of times, there’ll be a whole lot of links in Ahrefs that Moz just doesn’t even find. And even when they do find stuff, it takes them forever. I’ve pretty much stopped using their tools for the last six months or so just because it’s not reliable data. Their Domain Authority calculation was useful, but now, they don’t find … there’s so many links that they don’t find, and their crawler’s so slow that you can’t really rely upon it.
Majestic is really good. They don’t catch as many links as Ahrefs, they’re not quite as reliable as that. They’re definitely more reliable than Moz. But they have a good trust calculation, which is unique to them. So, that’s very useful.
But again, all three of these tools are imperfect. And even Google Search Console, which you can go in and see links pointing to your site, they don’t show everything. They’re notorious for not showing everything, so you can’t be completely trusting that this is all the links that Google has really found. But sometimes you can find links in here that you can’t find in these other places.
Delays in credit. This is super important. In terms of, it’s not so much credit as it is, maybe, rankings and improvements. First of all, the way in which you improve is nonlinear. In terms of, it’s not like a straight line. It happens in fits and bursts, typically. And a lot of times, even though you’re moving forward in terms of building links, you might go up a little bit and then go down a little bit and stay down for a little bit, even though you’re doing the right things. The right things in the right way. And a lot of times, Google, they don’t want to put you on … they like who they have on the first page, and they don’t want to put you on the first page right away.
I think also part of this is just testing people for SEO. And they know a lot of people quit early. They go three, four, five months into something, and they’re still not ranking on the first page even though maybe they’ve done everything right. And so they stop, and they stop right before they should. And if they just continue, then Google will give them full credit for it. And sometimes it takes six or more months to really see full credit for the links. So sometimes if it’s an uncompetitive market, you can just do six months of links. And even if you’re not ranking yet, you just stop and wait, and then you’ll just continue to go up. It depends on a lot of different factors.
Generally, it’s better to continue, even without the rankings improvements. Obviously, at some point, they should give you credit. I haven’t seen it take longer than a year to really give credit for the links. And usually it doesn’t take that long. That’s unlikely, and it’s probably only going to happen in really competitive markets or, sort of like “your money, your life, your health” type things. Things that Google really doesn’t want non-authorities to rank for. So like, an investment advice … they don’t want some guy who knows how to do SEO to come in and be able to advise people on how to invest. Or advise people on how to treat cancer because they know how to do SEO, but they don’t know anything about being a doctor, or how to beat cancer.
One question that I get sometimes is “how many links is it?”. Unfortunately, while you want a good amount of links, it’s not really the right question, because part of it is, well, do you count the links that have pointed to the links. Because, up here, sometimes some of my links are going to come with links pointed to them, and some of my links, I’m going to build links to them. Does that count? If I build five links to a link that I then link to your site, does that count … is that five links or one link? Similarly, what if this links twice to your site? So you have two links from the same domain. Does that count as one or two? I don’t really want to track that stuff. And that’s because it’s neither here nor there. It’s not really important. And so this complicates things.
Well, how many links are you going to build to my site at this level? It depends. Some links cost me a lot of money, but they’re very powerful. Some links don’t cost me that much money, and they’re still powerful. I’m going to be able to build, probably, more of those. It’s not just about money. It’s resources in general, my time, my team’s time, and sometimes links do actually cost money to build.
Another thing is on-page links. I know this is all about off-page, but how your site is inter-linked does matter. So it’s something that you want to do properly. And it fits within and needs to synchronize with how your off-page is set up. So something to consider.
So, what are my exact methods? A lot of people ask “exactly how do you build the links?” Well, I can’t really tell you that. Part of that is, yes, I’ve signed non-disclosure agreements from people who’ve given me some proprietary information, and so I can’t tell you that stuff.
It actually has more to do with it just being a really deep rabbit hole. This is Alice chasing the rabbit down the hole. In terms of, when I answer … when I tell you something, you’re going be like, OK, well what about that. And each question that I answer is going to bring up five more. This is something that is very complicated, and a lot of people say oh, it’s just simple. And those people only know a certain part of link-building. They don’t know some of the more complicated methods that can be very powerful. It’s not just about what is this one link. You can’t necessarily, usually, analyze a link by itself. Well, is this link a good link or a bad link? And the exact way it was done, the website, the pages it’s on, the properties of the link. I don’t know. What’s the overall picture of the links that already been built to the site?
So, it’s very complicated. I do try to explain generally what my processes and methods are, going into more details than what I’ve really given in this video, and what I am able to tell you in a 20-minute conversation. It’s just not reasonable because it would cost me so much more than just doing it and getting you good results. And ultimately that’s what I asked to be judged upon. Are your rankings improving? And to the point where you’re getting organic traffic that is your target market. That’s the ultimate goal, and that’s what I want you to see.
So please let me know if you have any questions. Go ahead and shoot me an email. And if you’d like me to do an analysis of your website, including your links, submit a discovery form or give me a contact, and we’ll from there.
Thanks for watching, and have a great day! Bye!

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