21 Dec 2011

International Link Building Shortlist

There are several unique factors that go into link development and link value when you’re working with sites outside of the U.S, U.K, and Australia. Here is my short list:


Anchor Text Issues & Non-English Sites

European languages get lots of variations in anchor text, from a variety of languages. This can be a problem because people will link to your site in their language, thus watering down your anchor text for targeted phrases. There are a couple of things to keep in mind regarding this issue:

  • Have clear page titles so people will be inclined to link to you with that. Ideally, it should be in your native language. Although it is natural link behavior to link in one’s own language, it is also natural to link with an article page title so long as it is short and clear. This one simple thing will get you better anchor text on natural links you’re already getting.
  • Remember,*some* natural anchor text variation is good, with a couple links from neighboring countries sprinkled in, it makes your overall backlink profile look more natural.

TLD’s Matter Abroad

Backlinks with a Top Level Domain ( TLD) from your target country tend to be more valuable. This is similar to what is known as a “local set” in US based countries. Real sites in your language tend to be more heavily interlinked with other sites in your country. If you’re lucky these will be more relevant. Conversely, paid links from .tg’s, .pl’s, are a red flag and although you may rank, these kinds of links will expose you to a little bit more risk. You stand the chance of being flagged as part of a network or getting outed for buying links by a competitor. It does happen.

It’s worth noting that getting links from English speaking main TLD’s are the exceptions to this rule of thumb, e.g .com’s .net’s and.org’s. The overall tip here is to future proof your brand with high value local links from your country and from English speaking countries.


Survey the Link Landscape in Your Country

Take time to understand the online space in your country before starting any link building campaign. First, look at your competitors in the top ten search results for phrases you’re targeting.

  • What tactics are they using to rank?
  • How are they getting their links?

Next, identify authoritative link prospects in your space and in your country (it’s easier said than done but unfortunately, that discussion will have to be one for another post).  Determine if people are blogging or talking about topics relevant to your industry. Find people who have personal sites discussing something topically relevant to you. For example, if you’re a finance site, are there any personal finance sites out there? (Here’s a hint; the answer is yes.)

Once you have an idea of how the link landscape around you looks, specifically how it is unique to your country and industry, you can start putting a campaign together. Remember, in non-English speaking countries, the space is a lot smaller, so it is important to laser target your campaign and the content you create to promote yourself organically to your target audience.


Some final thoughts

The more you entrench yourself into your local set now, as the online marketplace in your country grows, the more you’re ensuring the future of your site. The good links that you get now will age and bring even more value ( i.e rankings) to you in the future.

I really get thrown for a loop when I casually search abroad versus in the United States. SEO in the United States has become quite the rocket science. Now, you’ve gotta know social because there are social signals, you gotta know conversion because there are quality signals, you gotta know local, and the list goes on and on. In some places abroad, it is much easier to rank and stay there.

Tactics that used to work in the United States back in the day still work abroad. It’s a nice little rift in the space time continuum. However, it won’t be 2003 forever in the international search community. Keep in mind that the internet is not shrinking. International search markets will continue to mature, and they too will become increasingly competitive. If you do business abroad, future proof your links with good planning, understanding the value of your local set and solid research. Take on the international challenge now because it’s not going to get any easier later.

Some additional Goodies:

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