Chapter 8 : Link Building
Links aren't everything in SEO, but search professionals attribute a large portion of the engines algorithms to link-based factors. Through links, engines can not only analyze the popularity of a website and page based on the number and popularity of pages linking to them, but also metrics like trust, spam, and authority.
Search engines use links in many different ways. The entire link attributes measured by the engines, through:
Topics covered in this snack-sized chapter:
Link building is among the top tasks required for search ranking and traffic success. Trustworthy sites tend to link to other trusted sites, while spammy sites receive very few links from trusted sources.
Below is a list of notable factors worthy of consideration:
- Analysis of patent applications
The more popular and important a site is, the more links from that site matter.
For example: A site like Wikipedia has literally 1000's of diverse sites linking to it, which means it's probably a popular and important site.
The concept of local popularity, first pioneered by the Teoma search engine, suggests that links from sites within a topic-specific community matter more than links from general or off-topic sites.
For example, if your website sells Photography, earning links from the Society of Photography matters much more than earning links from an off-topic site.
One of the strongest signals the engines use is anchor text.
If dozens of links point to a page with the right keywords, that page has a very good probability of ranking well for the targeted phrase in that anchor text.
In order to weed out irrelevant content, search engines use systems for measuring trust, many of which are based on the link graph.
Universities, government websites and non-profit organizations represent examples of high-trust domains.
Spam links often go both ways. A website that links to spam is likely spam itself, and in turn often has many spam sites linking back to it.
Thus, it's wise to choose those sites you link to carefully and be equally selective with the sites you attempt to earn links from.
Link signals tend to decay over time. Thus, it's important not only to earn links to your website, but also to continue to earn additional links over time.
Search engines use the freshness signal of links to judge current popularity and relevance.
Search engines treat socially shared links differently than other types of links. Search engines factor social link signals into their algorithm, but there is no denying the rising importance of social channels.
Link building is an art. It's almost always the most challenging part of an SEO's job, but also the one most critical to success.
Link building requires creativity, hustle, and often, a budget. Below are three basic types of link acquisition.
Links that are given naturally by sites and pages require no specific action from the SEO, other than the creation of worthy material and the ability to create awareness about it.
"Natural" Editorial Links
The SEO creates these links by emailing bloggers for links, submitting sites to directories, or paying for listings of any kind.
Examples include filling out forms for submissions to a website award program or convincing a professor that your resource is worthy of inclusion on the public syllabus.
Manual "Outreach" Link Building
Many websites offer opportunity to create links through guest book signings, forum signatures, blog comments, or user profiles.
These links offer the lowest value, but can, in aggregate, still have an impact for some sites.
In general, search engines continue to devalue most of self-created links, and have been known to penalize sites that pursue these links aggressively.
The first step in any link building campaign is the creation of goals and strategies. Unfortunately, link building is one of the most difficult activities to measure.
SEOs rely on a number of signals to help build a rating scale of link value. Along with the data from the link signals these metrics include the following:
One of the best ways to determine how well a search engine values a given page is to search for some of the keywords and phrases that page targets (particularly those in the title tag and headline).
For example, if you are trying to rank for the phrase "Photography", earning links from pages that already rank for this phrase would help significantly.
Ranking for Relevant Search Terms
By examining the backlinks of a website that already ranks well for your targeted keyword phrase, you gain valuable intelligence about the links that help them achieve this ranking.
The value that a link passes is diluted by the presence of other links on a page.
Thus, getting linked-to by a page with few links is better than being linked-to by the same page with many links on it.
The degree to which this is relevant is unknowable; it’s certainly something to be aware of as to conduct link acquisition.
Number of Links on a Page
It is calculated by analyzing the Internet's domain graph and comparing it to tens of thousands of queries.
Get your customers to link to you.
Build a company blog. Make it a valuable, informative and entertaining resource.
Create content that inspires viral sharing and natural linking
- Blogs have the unique ability to contribute fresh material on a consistent basis, participate in conversations across the web, and earn listings and links from other blogs, including blogrolls and blog directories.
Find directories or listings of relevant resources
- In the SEO world, it is often called as linkbait.
- Use the search engines to find lists of pages that offer outbound links