Link building as a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy continues to evolve along with changes in search engines. A prime example of this is covered in my April article about how Google now penalizes guest bloggers for creating spammy links.
This month I will address the basics of how you can update your current strategy or how to get started with link building for SEO so that you can be on the right track with building links from referring sites.
What Is Link Building for SEO?
Search engines have given links a value as “votes” as part of their algorithmic formula for importance and popularity since the late 1990s. This formula has become more sophisticated over time, incorporating metrics like authority, spam, and trust on both sides of the link.
Link building is a strategy that increases the SEO value of published content by gaining inbound links.
Link Building for SEO ≠ As Many Links as Possible
Back in the late 90s through early 2000s, the strategy for link building was typically to get a link everywhere you could. The old “as many links in as many places as you can get” strategy of the 90s and early 2000s is well behind us and it’s time to focus on building links that will actually help the SEO value of your website.
There are many “link signals” search engines use that comprise the overall value of a link. Google and other search engines don’t publicly share their relative weight, but logical assumptions can be made by experimentation and looking at trends in patents that were applied for by the search engines.
The more traffic and user interaction a website, the more links from that site matter. Earn authority and trust from the search engines by targeting popular sites.
A link from sites that is relevant to your business have more weight than general or off-topic websites. For a B&B inn, dude ranch or other distinct lodging provider that means earning links from popular websites for those topics, such as bedandbreakfast.com or duderanch.org, will have more weight thank links from general travel or tacitly-related sites.
Link Anchor Text
One of the strongest signals the engines use in rankings is anchor text (i.e. the words in the link). For a B&B inn in Chicago, the anchor text “Chicago bed and breakfast” will be worth far more to the search engines than “click here” or other non-keyword text.
Internet reviewers estimate that close to two-thirds of web pages are spam. Search engines have systems to measure their trust rankings by weeding out this irrelevant spam. Most search engine researchers agree trust systems are based on the number of “hops” (links) away a website is from the source of the link. The higher the trust ranking of the website, the higher its value. High trust domains include government websites, universities, etc.
Your Place in the Link Neighborhood
A lot of the spammy links on the internet are reciprocal (i.e. spam links to spam and that spam links back) and search engines will review any reciprocal links you have, so be sure to only do reciprocal links with sites that have high trust rank.
Research into links has shown that the value of a link decreases over time, making it important to seek new links from your sources and to seek new sources as well.
Social Sharing Signals
Search engines recognize the influence of social media share from Facebook, Twitter and others as an indicator of popularity. Just how much is up for debate, but prompting visitors to share what they like is essential to both SEO and Social Media Marketing (SMM).
The Basics of Link Building
Because search engines protect their algorithms for link signals, link building remains an art, rather than a science, and is made up of three major acquisition components.
1. Editorial Links
2. Manual Links
3. Self-Created Links
More Link Building Advice to Come
This article gives you the basics. The next post in this series focuses on the various strategies to link building for SEO. Contact us if you want help in getting your link building strategy off the ground. We offer consultations and ongoing services for link building and other SEO-related services.