I began writing articles on Spaghetti Traveller on marketing tips for others trying to enter the industry around October and November, while the reception was very positive, so I thought it was time I wrote another piece.

Today I will focus on the concept of link building, why it is important for your site and what you should be (and shouldn’t be) doing.

What is a Backlink

Starting from the absolute start, a backlink is a hyperlink pointing to a site. Imagine I wrote about something that was happening in the news, I might then want to link over to a news article regarding further details on the topic. This would help visitors to find further information which they might find useful. The anchor text which was used in this hyperlink would help define what was going to be on the page. For example, if I linked through to my bucket list as 100 things to do before you die then you can click through (admittedly this is an internal link, it stays on the website) and the anchor text will help the reader but can also be used by search engines.

Google worked out that this was a brilliant way in which to understand what a site is about. If they wanted to recognise whether a page offered visitors what they want to find out about a bucket list, they could look at the page content, but also at the amount of links the page has gained and the anchor text being used.

Abuse of Anchor Text

EMAT, or exact match anchor text, is exactly what I used above, an exact match, however it is pointing internally. If you naturally gained links from multiple sites, you would have a complete blend of anchor text, for example, you might have branded anchor text (spaghetti traveller), domain based anchor text (www.spaghettitraveller.com/page), junk text (click here), exact match (things to do, ideas for holidays, great travel tips).

As people started to realise getting exact match links to their site, they started to abuse the system, buying links or building them with exact match anchor text. This was quite successful for a vast number of brands for several years, but nothing can last forever and when Google released the Penguin update, the s**t hit the fan.

An example of a company I dealt with, I run a backlink analysis of all the links pointing to their domain and broke it down into anchor text. 75% of the backlinks had the anchor text ‘cheap holidays’. This wouldn’t naturally occur, it was obvious this was manipulated. You could also break it down on a page by page basis, to get a deeper understanding of each page, but at the end of the day, if you have cheated the system then it is important to do some spring cleaning.

If you want to know how to recover from a penalty, send me an email and I can help talk through the process, or alternatively, if you’d like me to help, I’d be happy to freelance, having helped 4 business’s recover from Google penalties over the past 18 months.

What Are Shady Sites

There are an ever increasing amount of sites that shouldn’t be trusted any more when it comes to a link building process. The first stop is article submission sites. Long gone are the days where Ezinearticles was an acceptable site. Put it this way, if anyone can add it, while everyone IS doing it, then that link has no real value, in fact it is more likely going to be damaging your site rather than offering any benefit, so stay clear of these sites.

Next up is directories. Don’t get me wrong, a few local based directories, .gov directories or highly respected sites are still OK, however millions were made when people realised how easy it was to make money from them. In fact, they are still making money by charging people if they want the link removed!

You shouldn’t buy into the talk that blogs are the next one to go, it simply isn’t plausible. What should be believed in this area is that it shouldn’t be 100% of your link building tactic, while you also shouldn’t target overly spammy blogs (ones that seem to sell links in every article, have a lot of ads etc). I’m proud to say my site has kept white hat and has been a reflection of my work rather than a complete funding for travelling, which most people build theres for. The difference is that I love digital marketing as well as travelling and it seemed like a great idea to build a site so I could practice and learn, however I never expected to still be here over 2 years down the line!


Considering how much I’ve already written, I might make this a two step article, with the next post being based on how to link build and what types of sites you should be targeting, as well as what tactics work and what you might want to give a try.

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