5 Ways to Optimize Your Existing Links for Maximum SEO Benefit

March 2, 2009 - Written by Gyutae Park  

broken linksAs an SEO or Internet marketer, you’re constantly testing strategies to build new links to your sites for improved traffic and search engine rankings. But what about your existing links and link partners? Are you maximizing their potential and squeezing every little bit of benefit out of them? New links are great of course, but optimizing your existing links can have a significant impact on your SEO as well with minimal effort. Improving an existing link is usually a lot easier than obtaining a new one.

In this article, I’ll describe 5 strategies you can use today to optimize existing links to your site and increase their SEO value. This will help you to obtain more direct traffic and creep up in the search engine rankings for your targeted keywords.

1. Ask for more links

If someone links to your site, it usually means that they find value in what you have to offer or have some sort of relationship with you. Because of this, your existing link partners are more likely to change your links for you and add more in the future. Just don’t get too greedy with this strategy and push your luck. For example, if someone links to your homepage, you might email him with a relevant page and ask for a deep link as well. Furthermore, if someone links to one of your articles and you write a similar one on the same topic a few months later, you might let him know and ask for another link.

Again, don’t go overboard with this tactic. You want to get as many links as possible from your partners without seeming overly pushy and ruining the relationship. It definitely helps if you can repay the favor in some way.

2. Optimize link anchor text

A lot of times webmasters will link to your site with less-than-optimal anchor text. Anchor text is extremely important for links because it not only tells users what the resulting page is about, but it is also used by the search engines to determine the relevancy of a page to a particular keyword. For example, links to Winning the Web with the anchor text “internet marketing” will help the site to rank for that keyword. Links like “click here”, “learn more”, and “www.site.com” are unfavorable because they don’t incorporate high potential keywords.

Contact webmasters that link to you and ask them to change the anchor text for your link to include your targeted SEO keywords – especially links from high authority sites. Be sure to keep the anchor text relevant and mix it up (ideally a different variation for each link). Also, leave some anchor text unoptimized in order to appear natural to the search engines. Google will penalize your site if your link profile looks like it’s obviously been manipulated for a keyword. Learn how to appear natural and make every link count for your SEO rankings.

3. Correct errors

Occasionally you’ll find that webmasters link to pages that no longer exist on your site or completely misspell one of your URLs. Monitor your 404 error (file not found) logs and ask your link partners to correct the erroneous links if possible. If they’re non-responsive, an alternative solution is to transfer the link value yourself by implementing a 301 redirect from the old page or misspelled URL to the correct version.

4. Change link locations

Find out which sites link to pages on your site that are blocked from indexing by the search engines (in robots.txt or robots meta tags). Ask those webmasters to link to another more valuable page on your site. You can also go a step further with this strategy by asking for links on specific highly relevant pages with a lot of link equity (use PageRank as a general guide).

5. Turn your site name references into valuable links

Webmasters will often mention your name, business name, or URL but fail to use an actual link back to your site. Search for websites that already mention you. If they haven’t linked to your website, kindly let them know and request that they do so. Use Google Alerts to find these opportunities as they pop up.

Are you in the habit of optimizing your existing links? If not, take a look at the link profile for your site using your Google Webmaster account or tools like SEO Spyglass and Link Diagnosis. You’ll be surprised by how much optimizing you can do using the tips mentioned in this article.

For everyone who has used these strategies before, how big of an impact has optimizing existing links made on your SEO rankings?

Leave a comment and let us know!

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Posted in Articles, Link Building, SEO
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50 Responses to “5 Ways to Optimize Your Existing Links for Maximum SEO Benefit”

Dana Lookadoo on March 2nd, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Great tips and appreciate your sharing http://www.linkdiagnosis.com/ Firefox extension.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

No problem Dana. The Link Diagnosis tool is a great way to look at your link profile, and your competitors’ too.

Cheap Phone Calls on March 3rd, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

404 links seem to be the biggest problem. Keeping up with your link building and optimising efforts whilst working on new and existing projects is difficult enough. Keeping an eye on links to your 404 pages is even more difficult! I could do with going through this as I know I have quite a few 404 links. Thanks for reminding me!

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

You can check for 404 link pretty easily by scanning through your logs and/or setting up some alerts. I frequently forget about doing it myself but it’s a good way to clean up your site and get the most value for your links.

Eric Ward on March 3rd, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

You wrote…

“Webmasters will often mention your name, business name, or URL but fail to use an actual link back to your site”

Great great great! Can’t stress enough how important this is. I have found hundreds of instances where clients URLs were not linked at all, and while it isn’t always possible to get an edit, very often you can.


Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Thanks Eric, that means a lot coming from the Link Moses himself. I’m glad you approve. 🙂

Chung Bey Luen on March 3rd, 2009

Use nofollow link attribute for those unverified or untrusted site links.

Dean Saliba on March 3rd, 2009

Thank you for the great post.

There are a couple of tips listed here that I’m going to use to see if I can improve my blog’s ranking in the search engines.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Thanks Dean. Very cool, let me know how they work out for you.

James Svoboda on March 3rd, 2009

Great post. I perform an existing link audit for new clients to try and help fix and improve existing links. It proves to be very valuable for clients.

Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Hey James,
Care to share some of the results for your clients? Usually improving existing links requires the least amount of effort but still offers a lot of value.


The line between optimised link anchor text and being flagged by the search engines sure is a fine one! Mixing it up as much as possible is key here. Also try to get do-follow links from high PR web pages, as they count the most to the search engines.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Well said. When building links to your site, it pretty much comes down to being as natural as possible. Overly optimizing your links and your site copy is a good way to trip up search filters and raise eyebrows.

Tom @ The Home Business Archive on March 4th, 2009

My blog is getting big and there are bound to be a few broken links no matter how I try to fix them.I have focused on the 404 error page instead and added an search box to it so people can find what they are looking for.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

You can identify broken links on your site pretty easily by using a tool like Xenu. Basically what it does is it crawls your site and lets you know of any broken links or 404 pages.

Ann Arbor Web Design on March 4th, 2009

Good post. I found that point about anchor text a valuable reminder. Thanks.

Rahman Mehraby 4 SEO Services on March 5th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Great Post. I enjoyed it a lot.
While agreeing with the second point, I think asking for ALT tag optimization could similarly be important for our overall link optimization process.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Yep, good call. Adding descriptive alt text to image links is another good optimization tip that I didn’t include in the list. Thanks for pointing that out.

Mike Huang on March 7th, 2009

I get scared asking other webmasters to form a link out of a text they gave to my website because I’m risking them just removing it, lol.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

Haha, the way I look at it is that if someone links to you they did it for a reason. If the link comes with good will, they won’t take it down just because you asked for an edit.

Bidet on March 8th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

These are great tips, I agree anchor text are very important for SEO, they help you rank better. Also checking for errors is very important, I know alot of times theres a link on a site to another site that does not work.

Phaoloo on March 9th, 2009

Nice list of ways to optimize existing links. Yeap, you’re right, optimize these existing links is much easier than find a new one.

Karl Foxley on March 9th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Some very good tips you have shared.

I would stress that it is important to run a site audit (daily or weekly) and optimize what you can and clean-up what you can’t (404 etc).

Thanks for posting.


Gyutae Park on March 12th, 2009

Hey Karl,
What kind of tools and process do you use to run your site audits? I’d love to learn more about how you optimize your links on an ongoing basis.

Tnomeralc Web Designs on March 10th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

In my opinion, the last advice is the most often overlooked idea. I use well g00gle alerts for tracking sites that mentions my URL’s and NICHE market.Also this is a great way to check “new and possible” link building opportunity.

Gyutae Park on March 13th, 2009

I use Google Alerts for a few important keyword including my name, my site name, my URL, and my niche keywords. It helps me to identify linking opportunities and keeps me in the loop of what people are saying about me. I suggest everyone set these alerts up.

torong on March 17th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

thank you the tips, it is very useful to me

Waterhog on March 23rd, 2009

Some good tips there thanks. Especially the reminder about checking the 404 logs, I always forget about doing that.

Kai Lo on March 27th, 2009

I didn’t know something like Google Alerts existed! #5 tip is very valuable to me because I can be sure that I get full credit + backlink to my site when someone mentions my site.

Webmaster on April 1st, 2009

FAQ for children’s…
nothing special for professionals…
and nothing for professionals on the whole blogosphere.


I have an affair with 404 (file not found) because all my old articles vanished from server, I don’t understand way to overcome the problem

Carol Anderson on April 13th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Great post,
Thanks it’s very useful ..

Dubai Tour Company on April 13th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Hey, I was looking for it, finally I got it, I am having my Travel website and I am optimizing it myself, well great post.

Thanks and Regards.

Rahman Mehraby 4 SEO Services on April 13th, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

I’ve got a travel website too. I think authority links are very important for your site. I’m beginning to build up link popularity for this website. It’s an old site being online since 2002 and works very well, but has few backlinks. Maybe my blog can help you learn more about optimizing it for higher search engine ranking!
You’ve got a nice website with great potential to gain better visibility in search engines.
Good luck!

Exotic Cars on April 22nd, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

If all the on-page optimization in the site is done properly it will surely optimize the website for max SEO benfits.
Thanks Gyutae for discussing these basic & important points to optimize the site.
Also one should very well design there meta tags,titles as per the desired keyword.These will very well help the site to come in search engine at that keywords.

Arnie Katz on April 22nd, 2009 Subscribed to comments via email

Great article. Very informative even if you think you know a lot about
SEO.I also believe that linking is quite important and that your anchor text makes a significant difference in ranking process.

Andrew on April 24th, 2009

Wats new in this…even my support executive is doing all these activities from last 4 years….

Chris Peterson on February 8th, 2010

Your article is so simple but it contains more informative. To identify link location is most important while we are sharing link. Sometime few webmaster blocked search to crawl your website by giving security option. To know the security option is important.

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