If SEOmoz correlation data is to be believed, one of the best things to help boost your rankings (after squaring away the on-page optimization) is to get links. And not just any links. Unique linking root domains (LRD’s).
When Google looks to evaluate the authority of a site, it would much rather see 20 sites casting a digital vote for your site (which is really what linking is) than one site casting 20 digital votes. I’ve seen countless backlink profiles of sites with thousands of links originating from only a couple of dozen different sites, often the result of footer or sidebar links that perpetuate themselves every time a new page is created. If I could only use one metric when talking about a backlink portfolio’s health or when comparing two sites’ backlinks, I would use unique LRD’s over total links every time.
What’s This About C-Blocks?
You’ll notice in the chart above that two other factors correlating with higher rankings are (1) # of Followed, Linking C-Blocks of IP Addresses to the Root Domain and (2) Total # of Linking C-Blocks of IP Addresses to the Root Domain.
So what is a C-Block?
Every website has an IP address. BrightOak.com’s IP is 188.8.131.52. (You can check yours here). Every IP address follows the same format: AA.BB.CC.DD. The “CC” part of the IP address is referred to as the C-Block (or C-Class block of IPs), so in this case, the C-Block is 61. It’s like the web equivalent of a neighborhood. Often, the other websites on your same C-Block are determined by how your hosting is set up. Most websites use shared hosting because it’s cheaper and usually doesn’t result in any speed or performance issues. You can see which other websites are on your same C-Block at sites like WebsiteNeighbors.com.
For the most part, these look like pretty normal neighbors (although that last one may be a bit sketchy). A mixture of C-Block neighbors is to be expected. Problems can arise if your site ends up hosted in a neighborhood with an abundance of sites responsible for spam, malware, or other questionable content. Less-savvy dark side SEOs may create large link networks and link wheels, with all of the sites residing on the same IP, which is why Google doesn’t want to rush to give SEO benefits to a site that has a large number of links coming from the same neighborhood. It’s not natural.
I’ve worked with websites that uncharacteristically failed to gain rankings (or show up at all in Google’s index), even after the site’s content was optimized and a natural link profile was built up. An inspection of their IP neighborhood suggested that they may have been flagged because they became associated with bad sites residing on the same C-Block because of shared hosting. In response, we moved the website over to a dedicated server and within a few weeks, rankings had made more progress than months of optimization had produced.
So Google not only likes to see backlinks coming from many different websites, it prefers to see backlinks from many different neighborhoods or C-Blocks of websites.
Link Building To Maximize Unique LRDs & C-Blocks
When I build links, I like to think about scalability as much as possible. How can I maximize the efficiency of building links from a variety of unique domains that are actually likely to send traffic to my sites?
Using the “linkable asset” mindset, I consider different categories or types of websites that are each looking for a specific kind of content that I can produce. Let’s talk about 3 of my favorites:
Used strategically, deals and discounts can really boost revenues. And there are dozens of websites that cater specifically to online deals. I have a running list of which deal websites we’ve contacted in the past and I just try to update it each year. A few of the main deal sites:
These are easy ways to increase your amount of linking root domains while driving legitimate traffic to your site. A few things to remember:
- Most deal sites require a landing page with information about the deal. You can always use your home page, but you’re better off creating a separate landing page because you have more control of it later, whether to redirect it, add internal links, reuse it, etc.
- If you’re having trouble finding deal sites, I like to take what I know, plug it into Google, and see what new ideas are generated. For example, you could plug all 4 of the sites above into 1 query and probably find multiple lists that include other deal sites. You could also use some search queries that try to identify pages where you can submit your deal. Example: [intitle:"add a deal"] [intitle:"submit a deal"]
- If you’re a services company, it may be more difficult to get included on some of these sites. Consider selling some brand gear that you could discount on your website. You may also consider running a deal on Memorial Day or Cyber Monday. Since these are the most common deal days and most deal sites will be very busy trying to get all of the deals posted, they may be less discriminate about adding yours.
It’s very easy to run a contest and there are plenty of contest sites and individual blogs that highlight these opportunities for their readers. Don’t expect a lot of peripheral sales to result from contest traffic, but, expect plenty of links, especially if you have something worth talking about.
Again, as with deal sites, I’ve worked up a sizeable list based on my own searching and past analytics that I can just build upon. Here are a few you can start with and apply some of the rules used above to find more (don’t forget that the words “contest, giveaway, and freebie” all apply and make sure you create a dedicated landing page to the contest. Many sites require it):
Infographics as a link building strategy is nothing new, but many small businesses don’t realize how easy it is to create one, post it on their website, and garner dozens of links from websites that act as repositories for the graphics. Too often they feel that they either lack the design talent or the data.
Here are a few infographic sites you can start with:
Remember that it’s not just about maximizing your link numbers. Google likes a variety of sites and site neighborhoods. Believe it or not, even nofollow links from different C-class IPs is a good thing because they denote a natural site with a natural backlink profile. And just three different content types—deals, contests, and infographics—can result in hundreds of valuable links from unique domains that aren’t likely to die or get deindexed.