Link building is arguably the biggest part of SEO. With search algorithms always changing, SEO experts and companies are constantly looking for newer, more effective link building techniques.
One such method that’s getting a lot of attention lately is the process of building multiple levels of links to your backlinks – instead of directly to the page that you want to rank. Although there isn’t technically a name for this type of link building (which should be used to support and diversify your link building strategy – not replace it), we like to call it “Linkception”.
Types of “Linkception”
Normally, when you build links, you link directly to the page that you want to rank well in the SERPs, using keyword rich anchor text. With Linkception, you’re instead creating a second level of backlinks by building additional links to the links you initially generated, which builds the authority and SEO value of your backlinks and passes on even more value to the page you’re trying to rank.
Building links to your backlinks is also a way of minimizing your risk of getting penalized by search engines, including those that exist when too many links are created too quickly or when a link is deemed “spammy”.
The idea is that, because these links are a level removed from your main site, it’s harder for the search engines to directly tie lower quality links back to your site. Of course, this doesn’t mean that you should purposely do anything that might get you penalized – your focus should still be on building high quality, natural-looking links at all levels of your backlinking strategy.
But Linkception can go deeper than two levels. In fact, to maximize your backlink benefit even further, you could build a third level of links to the backlinks of your backlinks. In this case, your hierarchy of links would go like this:
Level 0 – The page you’re trying to rank
Level 1 – Direct backlinks pointing to your ranking page
Level 2 – Additional backlinks, pointing at your Level 1 backlinks
Level 3 – Another layer of backlinks, pointing at your Level 2 backlinks
Since Level 3 links are even further removed from the page you want to rank, this gives you more freedom in terms of the types of links you can build. At this level, it’s more about quantity over quality, making this the perfect opportunity to take advantage of lower quality links built from forums, blog comments and link wheels.
Although you can go as many levels deep as you want with Linkception, we don’t recommend going any deeper than three levels of links. Linkception – like so many other things online – follows the Law of Diminishing Returns, meaning that the SEO value gained from each additional level of link building decreases.
From our experience, anything past the third level provides minimal to no value. We believe this occurs because when you build too many levels of links, the link juice from the deepest links is lost in “limbo” and can’t find its way back to the original page that you intended to rank, as pictured below:
Another way to use Linkception is for reputation management. When users search for your brand name, ideally, you want them to find your website, social media profiles and any positive press releases or reviews that exist about your company.
What you don’t want to show up in the first two pages of the search results are negative press and reviews. In this case, you want to be proactive instead of reactive. If you find negative mentions of your brand, use Linkception to build backlinks to those pages that are ranking below the negative results. Even though this isn’t passing direct SEO value to your personal pages, it will help to boost the rankings of the positive pages in the SERPs and push down the negative pages. If users see the positive results you’ve helped to promote, their trust in your brand will increase, ultimately leading to higher click through rates and more traffic to your site.
How to Build Backlinks Using Linkception
Level 2 Link Building
In order to create your own Linkception, you first have to find pages to link to. Let’s use Newegg.com as an example to demonstrate how Linkception link building can be carried out…
One tool that we use is the Open Site Explorer. Start by entering the URL of your company (for this example, Newegg.com) and look at all of its backlinks:
As you look through these results, click on a handful of your site’s backlinks and look through these pages for sites that meet the following criteria:
- The page must have a link back to your site.
- It shouldn’t have too many external links – let’s say no more than 20.
- The page should be on a trusted or older domain, if possible.
- The site should be topically relevant to your link. (In this example, Newegg deals mostly in computer parts and electronics.)
In the screenshot above, we’ve highlighted an example of a good page to use for our Linkception. The Lifehacker page is a good choice for Level 2 link building for a few reasons. First, the page links to newegg.com within the content. Second, there aren’t too many links on the page. Finally, the content in the post is topically relevant to our exampale and is hosted on lifehacker.com – a very trustworthy site.
Another way you could go about link prospecting for Linkception would be using search queries on Google. In this example, use the search query “newegg –site:newegg.com” in order to find results that contain “newegg” in the page titles and meta descriptions, except for those from the Newegg website.
At the bottom of the first page of results for this query, we found an interesting looking Venturebeat article:
This article would be another good choice for Level 2 link building, as it talks about how popular Newegg’s deal was and links back to Newegg with the anchor text “Newegg.com”. There are only two other links within the content – neither of which links to a competitor. Lastly, this post is from Venturebeat, a very well-known and reputable news site.
So far, we’ve mentioned a few qualities to look for when link prospecting, but there also qualities on a page that you will want to avoid, including:
- Pages that aren’t linking to our main site, or are no-following the link.
- Pages that have more than 20 outbound links.
- Pages that link to our competitors.
- Sites that are in a foreign language.
For example, the page http://www.speedguide.net/links.php?category=56 is an example of a bad page to choose for Level 2 link building. In the screenshot below, you can see that the page is full of links. There is no content, just a long list of 30+ external links. Although there’s still value to this page for possible link building at lower levels of Linkception, the value of each link on this page is diluted by all of the other ones.
You should pass on this page, as there are plenty of better quality pages for you to choose from.
After coming up with a list of sites and pages to target, you’ll need to decide on the specific anchor text to use for each link. For Level 2 link building, use broad, partial match keywords that are relevant to the link you are pointing to, while keeping the length under three keywords. The following are a few examples of both branded and non-branded anchor text options to consider for this example:
- Branded Keywords:
- Newegg.com computers
- Newegg stores
- Non-Branded Keywords:
- PC hardware
- Computer parts store
These keyword phrases are all two or three words long. For branded keywords, the branded portion of the keyword phrase can be any variation of the brand such as Newegg, Newegg.com, or www.Newegg.com. The non-branded keywords should be chosen based on keyword research and will depend on a variety of metrics, such as relevancy, search volume, competition and current rankings in the SERPs.
Level 3 Link building
Now that we know how to create a good Level 2 Linkception, let’s dive one level deeper. Go back to the Open Site Explorer and run a search to find the backlinks pointing at each of our Level 2 links.
This time, let’s use the URL from before (http://lifehacker.com/5151369/the-first+timers-guide-to-building-a-computer-from-scratch) as an example. The criteria we’re looking for in a Level 3 site is similar to the criteria we used for picking a Level 2 target URL. Here they are once again:
- The page must have a link back to your site.
- It shouldn’t have more than 20 external links.
- The page should be on a trusted or older domain, if possible.
- The site should be topically relevant to your link.
Here are two good examples that meet all our criteria:
Again, the things you want to avoid are similar to the factors we considered when conducting our Level 2 link building. In this case, one link prospect that we rejected was this page shown below (http://crashwhite.com/compsci/links.html). This site is definitely reputable but with so many links, the link juice would be spread too thin – keep in mind, we’re now at Level 3, so this is more important than ever.
For keywords, since we’re at Level 3, we definitely want to target non-branded keywords in our anchor text. Use this opportunity to target highly competitive, one- or two-word phrases, including both plural and non-plural variations. For example, any of the following keywords would work as anchor text options for our Level 3 link building:
- PC components
Remember, when you’re down to Level 3 link building, quantity is more important than quality. This isn’t to say that you should try for any links possible, but you can loosen up your filters and not be as picky as you would at higher levels.
There are a few different ways to get large quantities of links in a relatively short amount of time for your Level 3 link building. One thing that you can do is build link wheels, which involve massive amounts of links pointing to a few different pages that – in turn – link to whatever page you want. All of the sites and pages involved in a link wheel should still be relevant to the site you’re trying to rank.
The image below shows how a complex, multi-level link wheel could be created to drive massive amounts of link juice back to your target site fairly quickly:
Image by Affhelper:
Another way to get lots of links quickly is to make use of blog or forum commenting. This is an ancient SEO tactic that can still has value, but only at this level of our Linkception. Basically, it involves linking to your desired page through the comments of relevant blog posts or forum discussions. Below, you’ll see an example of a good blog comment with a link. There are a couple of sentences about computers, along with a link to the Lifehacker article using the anchor text “build my own computer”.
To speed up the process of generating these Level 3 backlinks, consider making use of the many link building automation tools on the market today or outsourcing the process to a qualified administrative assistant.
Reputation management is a little bit different when it comes to Level 2 and Level 3 link building. In fact, most people probably already do this type of link building without even knowing it!
There are two ways you can carry out reputation management link building. First, search for your brand name (in this example, “newegg”) in Google. Then, look for sites that are discussing your brand in a positive light or any social profiles that are managed by your company. We’ll carry out Linkception link building to these sites to bump down any negative mentions we encounter.
Next, check the SERPs for any negative reviews or mentions of your brand. In this example, there is an excellent reputation management opportunity on the second page of the search results that comes from an unfavorable article on the Consumerist website. We can approach this article with a two pronged strategy – first, stop it from going any higher, while trying to pass it at the same time.
Alternatively, if you can’t find anything that suits you in the search results, try Google News. Start by typing the brand name into the Google News search bar:
Pages with content that are critical of Newegg and sites that have many user generated reviews are two things that we usually avoid. The trouble with big review sites is that you don’t know what types of reviews might show up in the future – they could be good or they could be negative.
In terms of anchor text for reputation management, use your brand name and any variations of your brand name (avoid SEO keyword rich anchor text for this technique). For example, anchor text such as “new egg’s site”, “about newegg”, or “newegg.com” would work best in this case.
Here are a few variations you could use:
- Different spelling variations of the brand name
- New egg
- General word plus the brand name
- Newegg’s site
- About newegg
- Use the domain name
- About newegg.com
Hopefully, these “link within a link” Linkception techniques will help you to funnel link juice and authority back to your own websites, allowing you to overtake your competitors in the search results. Remember, you don’t have to link build directly to the page that you want to rank. In fact, you can increase your SEO value by building up the value of your backlinks – and even your backlinks’ backlinks. Just don’t go too deep, as there’s a fine line between Linkception and limbo!