Most articles about building links talk about the quality, quantity, and usefulness of links, and most of them come to the same conclusion: value and usefulness are more important than volume.
But link builders rarely talk about link diversity as a way to make a “natural” link portfolio.
Link quality, quantity, and (to a lesser extent) variety all play a big role in how your keywords rank, but so does the variety of links you have.
Link diversity affects a number of things about your site, such as:
- Sphere of influence: Getting more links from different websites shows that you are more trusted and authoritative.
- Traffic mix: Links from different sites give your site new and different ways to get traffic.
- More people will see your brand because there are more links to it on more sites.
- Authenticity: A bunch of deep links from the same website make everything look fake and shady.
We’ve all heard the analogy that a link is like a vote, meaning that one site recommends another. Google tries not to “elect” sites with suspicious linking patterns, just as a political candidate with a suspiciously high number of votes might be flagged for fraud (the election here being to top query rankings).
The point is that being relevant to a lot of sources has a lot more weight than being relevant to just a few sources.
Link Diversity is an Insurance Against the Unknown
No one outside of Google knows for sure what’s inside the Google algorithm. No one knows for sure what will happen in the future with linking signals. So link diversity is a kind of insurance against the unknown, like having a portfolio of stocks from different companies.
By keeping things different, you’re protecting your site in case Google changes the rules and makes some links, sites, or linking patterns less important.
Also, having a variety of links is just common sense. Finding, getting, or building links from the same sites has less and less value over time, according to logic. Google’s algorithm is smart enough to spot suspicious patterns of linking.
It then ignores links from the same sites to the same deep pages, which makes link building useless. This problem can be solved by building links in different ways.
How to Diversify Your Link Portfolio
Diversifying your link portfolio is as easy as getting links from many different sites. Isabel Rodrigues from Apollo Hosting put together a nice list of sources to think about for diversification. I thought it was worth reprinting.
- High authority sites within your niche
- Low authority sites within your niche
- High authority sites outside of your niche but related
- Related low authority sites outside of your niche
- Social bookmarking sites
- Web directories
- Blog directories
- Blog comments and trackbacks
- Forum participation
I’d add that you should also focus on both followed and nofollow links from blogs and bookmarking sites. Even though they don’t pass any link juice, this tip is more about looking natural and passing the sniff test than it is about grabbing juice.
Also, the right nofollowed links can drive traffic and give you another quality signal to send to Google through the toolbar and Google Analytics.
So, Have You Diversified?
A strong link portfolio is made up of links that are many, good, relevant, and different. But not enough attention is paid to changing the patterns of links to make them look real. Evidence from the real world and common sense show that getting links from a variety of sources is good.
Let me end by saying that I know from experience that it’s not easy to get and keep track of a wide range of links. It is hard and often confusing to build deep links to hundreds of pages and try to keep track of everything and avoid duplication.
Organization is the key to managing the different kinds of links. Keep a detailed record of your link-building efforts and the links you get, including the link sources, the link targets, and the link text.