What are the Rules of Effective Link Building? (Beginner’s Guide)

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Last Updated on May 16, 2021 by Arif Chowdhury

If you want to rank your site in search engines then link building is a core technique. You may ask, what are the rules of effective link building?

Link building is one of the oldest techniques to rank high on Google since the beginning of search engines. However, it has changed a lot since then but the importance of quality link building has never changed instead it is still growing every day.

I have written this guide for both new and expert content writers, so all types of people can benefit from it. In this technology era, there is always so much to learn, especially in SEO.

That’s why you need to understand the mechanism of link building if you want to grow your website online and beat your competitors. Don’t worry, link building is not going to fade away because it is the lifeblood of search engines. 

First of all, I am going to discuss what is link building and then why it is important? There are huge chunks of data to digest, therefore, no need to hurry, let me elaborate on it to you step by step.

Definition: What is Link Building?

In simple terms, link building is like a vote from other website content. Let’s just say the other 10 relevant websites giving a vote to your website. It is a form of recommendation that your website is good, informative and trustworthy. 

Do you know, what are the rules of effective link building? A proper link building can easily rank your site on the top of Google.

This vote is used to determine your page rank and also there are hundreds of factors included with it. This vote from another site is called a link. 

For example, when you visit a website and within an article or blog post, you find a link to an external website is an example of a hyperlink or link in short form. Using this hyperlink users can surf from website to website. 

Search engines have spider bots whose main task is to crawl from website to website using this hyperlink to index new web pages in their search directory. It usually gives importance to those links, which come from a high authority site like Wikipedia for example. 

As it is a high authority site therefore if any link comes from this site will boost your page SEO as Google usually considers them important and trustworthy. 

Though it is a simple definition, however building quality links is the hardest part of SEO that many experts believe. There are many forms of link-building strategy and they vary from each other based on types and difficulty. 

Many big brands hire SEO experts and spend thousands of dollars every month only for this purpose, therefore, if you can master link-building tactics then surely you can outlast your competitors easily.

Anatomy of a Hyperlink

Before I talk about the importance of link building, let me give you some insight into Hyperlink. You need to have a clear understanding of a hyperlink if you want to become a master of link-building strategies.

you need to know the anatomy of hyperlink to understand how link building works?

<a href=”http://www.example.com”>Example</a>

It starts with “<a”, it is the beginning of an anchor tag and hyperlink. It tells Google spider bot that it is a link and an internal or external page is connected to it. 

Then the 2nd part is “href=”…”>” it is a hyperlink referral and it indicates a webpage. Not necessarily always have to be a webpage, it can be anything else from image, file, audio or video, etc. Sometimes when a link pointing a location on the same page then it starts with a # tag. 

The 3rd part “Example” is an anchor text. This is the visible part of a link that you always see whenever a link appears on a webpage. It indicates a text that describes what that link is all about and it usually has blue color so users can easily differentiate the link from a text. 

The 4th and final part is the “</a>” tag, it tells the spider bot that hyperlink ended here.

How Search Engines Utilize Links?

Let me enlighten you on how search engines utilize a link and why it is important to them? There are several uses of a link, 1st it is used to find new content all over the internet and index. 

The 2nd purpose is to rank every individual web page in search results based on importance and trustworthiness, so users can quickly find relevant websites and useful content whenever they search. 

Now let’s dig for more information 

Every search engine has its unique spider bot that main purpose is to search for new pages and index them in their database. When spider bot crawls new pages they scan the entire content of that page from text to images and even videos to find out keywords. 

Now do not forget that these are robots. They do not understand text, images, or video at all no matter how smart they get nowadays. Still, they do not possess human-level intelligence, thus, they always search for keywords and define a page based on that.

by getting links from other authority sites will boost your site SEO

For example, in this piece of content, I am talking about link building. Now any human can easily understand this topic by reading the headline and some text within it. However, search engines try to understand what type of content it is by scanning keywords volume and density. 

In this blog post, there are so many keywords related to link building and SEO. And by counting these “keywords density” search engines will determine this article is all about SEO and link building. 

There are Many Unknown Factors Google use to Rank a Website

Now counting the density of keywords is just a single factor among the hundreds of how Google ranks a website. Though I can give you a guarantee that, How many external links pointing to a web page is a major factor that Google uses to determine the popularity of a website. 

And this is called a link from another site. Google counts these links as votes towards the popularity of this webpage and ranks according to it. Therefore, when links come from a poor quality website Google gives it a little value to none while links from authority websites count as high-quality links.

Quick Note: you should focus on creating great content. Only then it will become link-worthy to other sites. This is the safest and authentic way to get links to your site.

Google has its algorithm therefore, no one knows how the formula works, I can only give you a brief idea. Though links from other high authority websites are a crucial factor that Google uses and started to dominate all other search engines since 2000. One of the Google co-founder Larry Page invented this “Page Rank” later it is known as “Domain Authority”.

They use this authority metric to rank a site hierarchy based on how many external links pointing to that website. Based on this metric they now determine which page has higher quality than others does and rank them in the search result page based on that. 

Though initially, it was an awesome strategy to rank authority web pages. However, people tried to cheat spider bots by controlling keyword density and manipulating links from other sites. 

Recommended Readings: 200 Factors How Google Rank A Website?

New Evolution in Link Attribution

To give quality service Google had no other choice but to implement a new algorithm to remove previous techniques that they recommended. One called “Website Directories” people used to submit their website and get a backlink from there. 

It was a popular link-building strategy back then however, people tried to trick Google by selling those links to other poor-quality webpages those who wanted to rank higher. This is how manipulating links began.

And after a while because of these abuses and overuse of techniques they had to remove those of link building strategy from their algorithm to make it clean again. 

But that was just the beginning every year Google invented a new algorithm to prevent rank manipulation from dishonest webmasters. A recent change in algorithm name “Penguin update” prevents webmasters from overuse of optimization such as keyword density now has to be natural. Keyword stuffing will no longer rank you higher instead it will rank you down.

Quick Note: the best practice is – conduct keyword research thoroughly on your article topic, then use LSI keywords to make it natural.

My advice is – use the “people also ask” section, you will find lots of relevant questions from the audience. Answer them in your content to fill it with semantic keywords.

Recommended Readings: How to Increase Rank in Google for Targeted Keywords?

Anatomy of Ranking Factors (Researched by Experts)

How Google ranking algorithm works is still a mystery as it is a company secret, they never published in public. Though according to MOZ there are some factors we can discuss here and link building is a major part of it.

Moz ranking factor for Google SERP.
Source: moz.com

They did several case studies and asked over 150 SEO experts to build up survey data and this is what they found. If you look at this survey data there are 9 total factors they have talked about however, these are just major ranking factors there are hundreds of other factors that exist that Google uses and we do not have any idea about it. 

Most importantly we don’t even need to know, just honest from your side, and Google will take care of you.

DA (Domain Authority) and PA (Page Authority) these are powerful factors to get rank in Google

Now here if we look at these factors then the 1st and most influential factor is “Domain-Level Link Feature” and the 2nd one is “Page-Level Link Feature” as you can see over 150 SEO experts believe that the most influential ranking factors are how many quality backlinks are pointing to your site and there is no alternate of it.

The 3, 4 and 5 number factor is all about “relevant keywords” and “audience engagements”. In my opinion, when you write an article relevant keywords will be added naturally, so there is no need to be cautious about that. 

For example, while I am writing this link-building guide, do I have to be cautious about specific keywords? No, it will happen automatically and my suggestion is, don’t try to add keywords manually unless your specific keywords density is too low. 

get audience engagement to increase rank

And talking about “audience engagements” completely depends on the quality of your writing, you cannot control audience engagements. So, this factor is also automatic and all you have to do is write high-quality and engaging content and if your audience loves it then it will automatically become engaging content.

So, the verdict is, you have to write quality and engaging content and get yourself natural backlinks from high authority sites to get rank high enough in Google SERP. 

Though do not forget about social media signals like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram sharing and liking. In that recent “Penguin” update experts believe that social signals also play a big role in link building. But in my opinion, social signals will come naturally. When you get thousands of visitors per month, you do not even need to think about social sharing and likings, because your audience will naturally do that for you. 

Okay now let’s talk about natural link building, what is the “natural” meaning. And why Google is getting more sophisticated about the quality of links.

Definition: What is nofollow Links?

You may have already heard about “nofollow” short of things. When you visit a website and click on a link you have no idea about whether it is a nofollow or dofollow link. Simply because this nofollow or dofollow is not meant for you. 

In simple terms, this attribute is not for users instead it is for search engines and coded in HTML format just like these. 

“<a href=”http://www.example.com” rel=”nofollow”>Example</a>” 

While dofollow link looks like this

 “<a href=”http://www.example.com”>Example</a>”

So, the only difference is rel=”nofollow” which tells search engines that “I am not voting for this guy”. Simple as that. 

Now, why does a website do that? There could be so many reasons behind it, but in most cases, a website uses this attribute to a link when it has no control over it or takes some time to decide on that link. 

For example, in a popular blog comment section there could be few to hundreds of comments posted with links by the audience. Even if the blog owner can remove those links manually, however, it will take a huge amount of time to do that. And if that blog has hundreds of blog posts then just imagine how many comments will publish. 

nofollow links is best for referral traffics to boost your sales

And exactly in that scenario, there is no control over the links and it is obvious that the blog owner has no idea about all the links their audience has posted in comments. Maybe they are trustworthy, maybe not. Maybe those are malware links, who knows? 

And for safekeeping, blog owners use the “nofollow” attribute to these links and effectively tell them not to trust these, at least blog owners have no idea about them. There is another reason for using this “nofollow” attribute, back then until 2005 spammer used this opportunity to rank their page.

They could easily do this by commenting on other high authoritative websites and get a link back to their site. Because of that reason, many spam websites get high rank in Google and to prevent this Google implemented “nofollow” attribute. 

Therefore, by using the “nofollow” attribute a blog owner stays on the safe side, however, a link that gets the “nofollow” attribute won’t get as much benefit as it would get from a normal “dofollow” link. 

What are the Rules of Effective Link Building? (Beginner's Guide) (Infographic)

Quick Note: do not think that having a nofollow link is bad for your website. There is no good link or bad link unless you get links from spammy websites. Besides, having both dofollow and nofollow links will make your backlink profile more natural to search engines.

Recommended Readings: What is a Nofollow link?

There is another purpose of adding the “nofollow” attribute in the external links that are paid links or advertisement links. Google suggests a website owner uses the “nofollow” attribute to their paid links so it won’t pass a value to them. 

The reason is that an advertisement can be done by paying; however, the organic ranking value shouldn’t pass to them as it is not based on quality rather based on money.

Not just for blog comments, forum posts and paid/advertising links but also press releases, advertorials and article directories links are suggested to have a “nofollow” attribute to reduce the easy ranking opportunity. 

Why Should You Waste Your Time in “nofollow” Links?

Well, the answer is, do not even bother. Because some experts believe that if you do have 100% dofollow backlinks then you are in great trouble. Because Google will take your domain suspicious as spam. That you might have bought those links from different high authority websites, otherwise you would have some nofollow links as well.

Therefore, to make it more natural-looking your domain profile has to have both dofollow and nofollow links. Besides, if you look at the high authority website like “Quora” all of their question and answer links are “nofollow”. However, even after that all big brands, experts and leaders are marching to Quora to contribute in question answers. 

Why is that? Simple, in a high traffic website like Quora (470 Million visitors per month) it doesn’t matter whether it is dofollow or nofollow. Google will count that link for something and also think about the massive organic traffic you may get from your answer. Therefore, your task is to get as many dofollow and nofollow links as possible, just forget about what attribute they have, target a high-quality website with massive organic traffic, that’s it.

How Link Building Can Grow Your Business?

Now let’s talk about business. How to grow your online business through website link building and become profitable in the long run? 

The simple and straightforward reason is getting high-quality free organic traffic to your website. Think about “Quora” they are getting 470 million visitors every single month without paying a single penny for it, how did they manage to do this? 

PPC ad campaign will provide you instant boost in sale but it is highly expensive while backlinks will give you millions of free organic traffic, however it will take time and efforts.

By advertising? No, by building links from other websites and becoming popular to the hearts of their audience as well. If you cannot win the hearts of your audience then building a strong backlink profile is useless. So, your primary task is to build a strong backlink profile and Google will rank you higher in their SERP and you will get millions of organic visitors every month and finally, your business will beat the competitors.

Build an Everlasting Relationship with Other Webmasters

This is the only benefit that you get from search engines by building a strong backlink profile however, there are more benefits on the way. Don’t forget about building relationships can also be done through links from other sites. Just like brick and mortar businesses you build alliances with other businesses by exchanging cards, gifts, resources for production, etc. 

The same goes here in online business, you are giving value by writing quality content to other websites and in exchange, they are offering you a dofollow link pointing back to your website. Not only that will benefit your site ranking but also their audience will see your content along with your business name with it, you gain exposure and new customers.

Take Advantage of Referral Traffics from Relevant Websites

Gaining Referral traffic is another benefit you may get by receiving links from relevant websites. Though it doesn’t matter what type of attribute that link has, you will get targeted visitors to your site and hopefully more revenue along with it. 

Ask yourself how many times you have learned about new websites by clicking on links. Did you ever know what kind of link is that? Even getting hundreds of “nofollow” links from different relevant websites can get you thousands of extra visitors every single month. Experts believe having many links from relevant sites can also increase your website ranking regardless of dofollow or nofollow links. 

Establishing a Brand is the Ultimate Link Building

Finally, you are walking towards the brand building by doing link building to other websites. There are many opportunities out there you can write a guest post to different websites, answer questions to Quora and other similar sites. Start a discussion in similar forums that are related to your business.

Here are some websites for you to get started your link building campaign

Guest Post:

Question and Answer:

Recommended Reading: How to Start a Link Building Campaign?

Quick Note: though there are many ways you can build links yet broken link building technique is one of the most popular effective ways to get the job done.

Forget about “dofollow” or “nofollow” just remember every single link counts unless you are spamming your link or you are getting a massive amount of backlinks from spam websites. 


I tried to answer all the possible questions regarding, what are the rules of effective link building? Hope you get the answer.

At the end of this guide about link building, I want to tell you one last thing, is that – Before you do anything else about link building, try to build your website with as much value as possible. Just think this way If you have a bag of dust and want to sell it. No matter how much you spend on the advertisement, do you think people will buy that? 

Therefore, it doesn’t matter how smart you are in marketing or link building. When people do Google search if they find your product or service has low value then all of your link-building efforts will go in vain. No one will buy it and they will immediately leave your site. And because of that, your site will lose its rank. 

In other cases, if you can build value and trust then people will love to share your content, and eventually, it will go viral. 

Then you do not even have to build links for yourself because your audience will do that for you by sharing it all over the internet. Yes, leverage the power of “go viral” and your audience will take care of your site, you just sit back and watch how your business grows.

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