I often use this metaphor to help people understand SEO: Let’s say you are hungry. You ask ten friends about restaurants in your area, and five of them tell you to eat at a certain restaurant. If half of your friends are telling you that a particular restaurant has tasty and affordable food, you can assume that you will probably enjoy it as well.

SEO is like asking your friends where to eat. The more websites that are linking to—and therefore, “recommending”— your own website, the more important search engines think you are. If more people are talking about your website, it can be easily established that you own a helpful and trustworthy site.

However, certain practices must be maintained in order to establish that trust with search engines. This is where link diversity comes in. Returning to the restaurant metaphor, if all of your friends are vegetarians and you’re looking for a steakhouse, you’re not going to get the results that you want. Similarly, you’re not going to get on the first page of search engines if all of your links are coming from the same source. Applying the following strategies will diversify your links and deliver results.

Avoid Spam Link Building Practices

There is a fine line that you must walk when building your SEO profile. Some websites try to trick search engines into thinking they are trustworthy by building bogus links all over the web. Common examples of this are adding links to unrelated websites, such as having a link for your dentistry site on a website about construction, and building links on link farms, which are web pages with thousands of unrelated links. You can’t outsmart search engines with these tactics. Search engines implement sophisticated technology that recognizes these spam link building practices. They de-index link farms and other sites with unrelated links, while also flagging the offending websites as spammers. In the long run, it can be detrimental to your website to pursue these strategies.

Instead, you want to be focusing on building links that are high quality. You can do this by finding other blogs that relate to your website and leaving a comment or writing a guest blog post. It may take more time to find the right websites, but these practices will build your link profile in an acceptable manner and establish your reputation as a reliable and trustworthy website.

Build Different Types of Links

I have two brothers who own their own websites. One of them is a dentist, and the other is a doctor. We’ve often discussed what they could do to boost their rankings on search engines. They both want to spend the least amount of time as possible in order to get results, so they’ve asked me to give them the most important SEO task they can implement. The reality is that focusing on one aspect of an SEO campaign doesn’t work very well. Building a complete and diverse link profile is the best way to implement an SEO campaign.

If just one website is pointing to your own website, that link will not have enough power to convince search engines that your site is a reputable source. You want to avoid focusing on one website or on one type of link. Building different types of links—such as comment links, web directory links, contextual links, etc.—on multiple websites will mix things up and establishes your online reputation.

Use Multiple Keywords

Good link building starts with having the most relevant and effective keywords. Therefore, in addition to building a diversity of links, you should be using a diversity of keywords.

Because of past experiences with spammers, search engines are skeptical of links that direct to one website and use the exact same phrase consistently. It’s important to target different, even if only slightly different, keywords. When talking about your site, try using variations on your keyword. For example, in addition to plumber, you could use plumbing, plumbing contractor, etc. If you only service a specific location, you can also add your location to the keyword. Use filler words like “in” or “from” (plumber in San Antonio, plumber from San Antonio) or simply switch the order of your keyword (San Antonio plumber). Implementing keyword diversity seems more natural to search engines and will help achieve the results you’re looking for.

If there are a lot of reliable and related sources that are talking about your website, search engines can certify that you provide value to the online community and that your website is a reputable source that viewers want to find. Remember, long-lasting SEO takes time, and you need a variety of different links in order to optimize your page and keep it where people can see it—at the top of the search results.

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Colton is the Director of SEO Strategy at Boostability testing and defining the products and processes that make Boostability's customers successful. He has been a part of Boostability for over 7 years. Colton loves hanging out with his family and gaming. He runs a personal blog over at www.coltonjmiller.com where he discusses gaming, life, and SEO.