Backlinks are still a major part of SEO, there are some niches in which you simply can not rank without building high-quality backlinks. Although focusing only on building backlinks is an old way of thinking and today you also need high-quality content in addition to backlinks. Back in the day, you could rank almost anything with enough backlinks, today hover google relies on user testing to determine your website’s ranking.
You can start building links after the sandbox period, after you published 50 posts, after your website has some traffic, after your posts have been indexed, after you are ranking for some secondary keywords, and even then you should start with drip feeding backlinks instead of blasting your website with as many backlinks as you can.
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If you have a new website with little to no content then you should focus on content first and on the backlinks later. Good content and good backlinks are an extremely powerful combination, although it will take a somewhat longer time to see any results but once you are ranked you will stay in that position for a long time. Aged content tends to respond a lot better to backlinks than brand new content, especially if the aged content is out of the sandbox.
Determining when you should start building links to your website is one of the most important things you can do for a good SEO. The problem is that most beginners only know that backlinks are good and they think that the more backlinks they have the better they will rank, although this was a viable ranking strategy a couple of years ago, but today backlinks are just a part of a massive puzzle.
If you have asked around on forums when you should start building links than you have most likely got a lot of contradictory answers, some will say you can start right after you publish the posts, while others will say that you should wait for a while. The main problem in the SEO industry is that most places like social media and forums focused on SEO is that the blind are leading the blind, and it will be extremely hard to get some good info. If you want to rank your new blog as fast as possible then check out my recent article How to rank a new blog faster? ( In 9 Easy Steps ).
After the sandbox period
A lot of people still claim that the google sandbox period is a myth, but if you have built several websites through the years like I did, then you have definitely noticed that it is real. The sandbox has been made as a result of people manipulating the algorithm with backlinks so efficiently that they were ranking in a couple of days. So they have implemented this sandbox period and while your site is in the sandbox google will test the user experience ranking you temporarily for some long-tail keywords before it decides that you are a good fit for ranking for your main keyword.
The google sandbox is both a blessing and a curse, I would say that it is a blessing mostly, because it increases the barrier of entry. I mean not a lot of people can handle writing 100+ long-form blog content and see absolutely no results for the first 6-8 months, generally speaking, most people give up in a couple of months, this is why you see so many abandoned websites.
Ideally, you should start building links after your website gets out of the sandbox and this means that you should build backlinks after 6-8 months. Just remember that the sandbox is per post, and not site-wide as some will tell you. Google knows that while your website is in the sandbox period it doesn’t get any traffic, so no traffic means no backlinks.
After 50 posts
The time of making a single page website and ranking it for a specific keyword is long gone, google is extremely unlikely to rank such a website for a higher competition keyword. Generally speaking the more posts your website has the better it looks in google’s eyes. A couple of years ago a website with 30 long-form articles used to be considered a big website, today however even a website with 100 articles is considered small.
As I have said earlier, you should focus on content first and on backlinks later. You might even find that some of your articles will rank without any backlinks if you target low competition keywords. Once you have around 50 posts and the first couple of posts are already out of the sandbox then you can start building backlinks to the ones which are out of the sandbox.
Generally speaking, the faster you can create the content the better your odds will be to rank. Google loves consistency, if it takes you a year to write 50 posts then you should probably think of outsourcing content, ideally, you should publish around 5 articles per week.
After your website gets some traffic
Traffic and backlinks go hand in hand, this is how you get backlinks organically. If your website doesn’t have any traffic and yet you have already started building backlinks then this will be a massive red flag in google’s eyes. The good news is that you don’t need organic traffic to start building backlinks, the bad news is that you will have to use social media as a traffic source. It is extremely important that the traffic which you are sending from social media is actually interested in your niche.
If you have tricked people into clicking on your link then they will bounce off in an instant from your website which is another red flag in google’s eyes. Paying for ads is rather pointless as once you stop paying for the ads your traffic will drop and unless you are selling something on your website than you won’t see a profit. There are a lot of websites and marketplaces which sell “social media traffic”, avoid these at all costs, all of them are bot traffic which mask the referrer to be some social media platform.
After your posts have been indexed
Generally speaking, if you are focusing on content fist and backlinks later than you shouldn’t worry about getting your posts indexed. On the other hand, if you are using low-quality articles or spinned and scraped content than you might find that even after a couple of months your posts are still not indexed. Beginners oftentimes do not even notice that their post is not indexed and wonder why their link building strategy isn’t paying off.
You can use google search console to index your posts there is no need in building tier 2 backlinks or using indexing services. If your posts are still not getting indexed then there might be an issue with your site, maybe it has the “no index” tag or google has a hard time crawling your website. In short, before you start building links to any of your posts make sure that your website and the posts are actually indexed. If you want to know how long will it take google to index your website then check out my recent article How long before google reindexes my site? ( The Honest Truth ).
After the ranking of secondary keywords
If you are writing long-form content than you will notice that the articles will rank for a lot of keywords, not just for the ones that you are targeting. Nowadays Google is using search intent, and it is extremely good at figuring out what the user actually means. You have probably made a couple of google searches that didn’t really make sense in a sentence but google still managed to pull up relevant information.
Oftentimes the user doesn’t even know what he or she is searching for, so instead of showing results based on the keywords google will show results on which people have clicked and had similar searches. If you are not using a backlink checker or a keyword tool then you can take a look at your analytics, and if you are getting some organic traffic to your website than odds are that they are from secondary keywords.
Drip feed backlinks
Once you have determined that now is the time to start building backlinks, then start slowly, drip-feed backlinks are probably one of the safest ways to build backlinks and rank. Don’t start blasting your website with backlinks just because you are in a high competition niche, stick with the slow and steady method. Link velocity which is how fast you are building the backlinks, this is extremely important, and your main goal is to look as natural as possible. If you need more information about drip feed backlinks than check out my recent article What are drip feed Backlinks? ( Top 10 Benefits ).
As you can see it will take some time until you can start building backlinks, although a lot of people will say that you should start building backlinks as soon as possible but by waiting some time before you do you will build links in a lot safer way. The most important thing which you should keep in mind that SEO is a marathon and not a sprint, slow and steady wins the race.