So, you've built your website and you're ready to take orders.
Then the reality sets in and you suddenly stop and think, “How do I actually get people to my website?”
You need search engine traffic to send people to your site and search engines such as Google and Bing want to send potential customers actively searching for your products or services to your site. But first they need to know that you exist. Building links to your site is one way to put your site on the radar.
What Is Link Building And Why Are They Important To Search Engines?
For a long time now search engines have been using links as votes, which represent the web’s opinion on what pages users find relevant and useful based on popularity.
After years of programming development, the search engines have mastered and refined the use of link data, where complex algorithms are put in place to create nuance evaluation of websites based on this information.
Links are not the entirety of SEO, but most search experts agree that huge portions of search engine algorithms are designed around link-based factors.
By using links, the engines can determine a site’s popularity in a specific niche based on the number of pages linked to it and when this information is combined with other metrics like trust and authority, the search engines assign a rank for the website.
Trustworthy sites usually link to other trusted sites while those suspected of being spam-type sites get the fewest links from trusted sites. Links are a great way to establish the validity of sites and information on any given subject.
What is Link building?
Link building refers to the process of getting external pages on the internet to link to your own website to give it more relevance and credibility.
The more important and popular a website is, the more the links from that website matter.
For example, a popular site such as Wikipedia has thousands of different websites linking to it which means it’s probably an important and popular site.
In order for you to earn popularity and trust with the search engines, you need assistance from other link partners. The more important the site, the better.
The Fundamentals of Link Building
Link building is one of the most challenging parts of SEO but also the most important to success. In order to succeed in link building you will need a decent budget, confidence, and more importantly, creativity. Each link building campaign is unique and the way you choose to build your own links will depend largely on your website as well as your personality. Your strategy should fall under one/or more of these types of link acquisition:
- Natural or Editorial Links: These are a type of links which websites and pages give naturally in order to link to your own content. Natural links don’t require any specific action from SEO, apart from the existence of good quality content and the ability to raise awareness about it. The useful content you provide, the more people will link to it, resulting in more visitors to your website.
- Outreach or Manual Link Building: Outreach links are created through personal effort by contacting bloggers and sites and that offer complimentary products or services (but are not in competition with you) for links, spending money for listings and submitting websites to popular directories.
- Self-Created Links: Many websites encourage visitors to create links through blog comments, guestbook signings, user profiles and forum signatures. While these links only offer small value in the long run, they still have an impact on a number of websites. But generally, search engines tend to devalue these types of links and they’ve been known to penalize websites that use these links aggressively.
As with any successful marketing effort, you need a strategy and realistic goals. But before you embark on a link building effort you should probably take time to read and understand the many elements of a link as used by search engines and how those same elements factor into the valuing and weighing of your links.
There are a number of search engines on the Internet and those search engines use links in a variety of ways and have their own unique algorithms. We might not know all the attributes considered by the engines but through proper analysis and hands-on testing we can get some valuable indicators and results of what they are looking for.
Here is a list of the most notable factors worthy of your consideration. Professional marketers consider these factors when measuring the value of a link and a site’s link profile.
This concept of “local” popularity was first used by the Teoma search engine and it suggests that links originating from websites within a topic specific community carry more weight than links from other general off-topic sites. Let’s say for instance your website sells wedding dresses, and you earn links from one of the many wedding and bride discussion forums online, the links would matter more than earning links from an off-topic site such as a dog breeding forum.
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink and is one of the strongest signals used by search engines when ranking sites. If a high number of links point to a specific page with the right keywords, then that page will have a higher probability of ranking well for the keyword used in the anchor text. This can be observed with searches like “Click here”, where a significant number of results rank mainly due to the anchor text of inbound links. Instead of just using the words ‘click here’ to send them to a specific page on your site, it would be much more effective for the search engines if you had the words “Click here to view our full summer range of wedding dresses” or words to that effect relating to your website.
The Internet is filled with spam. As much as 60% of web pages are in fact spam, so search engines have to find a way to weed some of this content out. They do this by measuring a site’s trust with the link graph. When a site earns links from high-trust domains such as government websites and non-profit organizations it boosts their score in this particular metric.
The Link Neighborhood
Spam links mostly link to other spam sites. Spam goes both ways and search engines look at all of these links so they can understand which “neighborhood” the website falls under. Therefore, it’s a good idea to be selective when you choose sites to link to and also when you attempt to earn links from a site. If somebody promises to provide a thousand links to your website in a short space of time be very wary.
Social media has seen an explosion in the amount of content moving through different platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. The rise in social sharing has led Google to incorporate social signals in search results in an effort to serve personalized results. Some of these personalized results are not included in the first page but they still get promoted because of the surging social influence.
When individuals share a lot of material across different social platforms, search engines don’t treat all of these socially shared links the same way they do other links. However, that doesn’t mean they don’t notice them. There’s been heavy debating over how exactly search engines factor in social links into their algorithms but its obvious social media channels are have huge significance and importance.
You may not have known this but link signals decay over time and websites that were once hugely popular go stale, eventually failing to earn new links. Because of this, it is crucial to keep earning new links over time. Search engines use the “Fresh Rank” feature to determine a site’s freshness and judge current relevance.
An aside on backlinks
Bing and Google have been trying to discount the use and influence of paid links on their search results. Obviously it’s not possible for them to detect all paid links, they have been putting in a lot of time and resources into formulating ways to detect and discredit the practice. If you get caught buying links you risk severe penalties that will probably kill your rankings and send your site to oblivion.
The Importance of Backlinks for Your Website
When you look at it in terms of building your site or blog, you will find several important factors which play a part in your overall SEO plan:
- Search engine ranking: It’s the main goal for most marketers and website owners and one of the ways this is achieved is by creating quality links to your pages. The key here is to create a variation of anchor texts and get it from niche blog or high quality blogs and websites.
- Fast indexing: After creating a brand new website, the next challenge is getting indexed quickly by Google; but having backlinks from an active website tends to expedite this process.
- Page rank: If you get linked back from good quality PR sites then quite possibly you will get a decent page rank in subsequent updates. One of the many ways to find out how well your site ranks on a search engine is to search for one of the key phrases targeted by the page. For instance if you want to rank well for a phrase such as “diet pill” then it would help if you earned links from pages that already rank well for that particular phrase.
Time and Effort
It takes a lot of practice, effort and experience to establish these variables as they affect your ranking but you can always use one of the many web analytics to find out whether your campaign is gaining traction. You know the strategy is working when you see an increase in search traffic, frequent search engine crawling and better rankings, among other things. If you don’t see a rise in these metrics then it’s possible you need to work on your on-page optimization or pursue better quality link targets.
Increase Your Profits
The world of Internet marketing changes so fast and there are now more businesses than ever competing in a very different online landscape.
Companies of all sizes that want to compete for customers online have to be smart if they are going to stand out and grab their share of the colossal opportunity open to every perceivable market.
We don’t want your business to be left behind. If you don’t have the time or inclination to manage your online marketing campaigns, please contact us today and we will be very happy to show you what a difference we can make to your online profits.