What is link building?
Link building is a key component of SEO. Think of a link that points to your website as a vote for your website. The more links, or votes, you have the better your website looks in the eyes of the search engines. Links also vary in quality, links from websites that hold more authority in the eyes of the search engines will be more helpful to your SEO success than links from so-called lesser quality sites. Therefore, one aspect of SEO and the link building process specifically is to search out high quality, relevant link sources. Link building is always complimentary to on-page SEO as it essentially reinforces the on-page work.
Link quality – Endorsement
Search engines employ robots, called spiders, which ‘crawl’ the web searching for links to find more websites. It’s by means of these spiders that they find and index websites which then lead them to further links. Websites have the option to tell the spiders that they have links on their website that they do not fully endorse; we call this kind of link a no-follow link. These type of links have this name because of the code inserted into the HTML itself which reads as re=“nofollow”. A no-follow link provides websites more freedom to post links, allowing them to post a link and only provide a loose association with the destination. Generally, no-follow links carry far less ‘link juice’ and so when we are link building we are primarily searching for the opposite of these links which are referred to as do-follow links. A do-follow link is simply a link that does not carry the “nofollow” attribute.
Link Quality – Link Source
Another important aspect of link quality is the source of the link. When link building we can find links from a variety of sources and we ideally seek out high-quality links, but what exactly does that mean? One aspect of link quality is the relevancy of the link source to the link destination. For instance; if you have a sporting goods website you’d be better off receiving links from ‘like’ sources such as a forum about sports or a manufacturers website listing you as a distributor. These links reinforce the importance of a website and help to boost it’s authority.
These links reinforce the importance of a website and help to boost it’s authority.
One other aspect of the link source is the authority of the site linking back to your website. Every website that is a potential link source also has it’s own set of links pointing at them. So when a website has a lot of high-quality links pointing at it obtaining a link from this site is desirable. This helps us to find which websites we want to acquire links from.
When building links anchor text describes the text or keyword that links back to your website. There are two basic attributes necessary to create a link; one part is the actual link that directs you to a website or internet location, and the other part is the text that the user can see and click on. The text portion of a link is referred to as the anchor text. When we are optimizing your website for a specific keyword we must use that keyword in as the anchor text portion of a link. Additionally, we must also use variations of the keyword. For example, when link building for ‘buy blue widgets’ the anchor text might look something like this:
- “buy blue widgets”
- “widgets that are blue”
- “shop for blue widgets”
- “blue widget store”
Selecting the keyword variations directly from the search engines provides an effective variation strategy for the link building process. The search engines have already decided which keywords are relevant to each other so we can simply follow their established guidelines.
Diversifying the link building efforts
When link building we want to diversify the link sources, too many links from one source is not beneficial to an SEO campaign. Therefore, our goal is to get as many links as possible spread across a wide range of quality link sources. Typically, our SEO campaigns involve a wide range of links from a variety of sources including:
- Article Directories
- Wiki Sites
- Video/Photo/Media Sites
- Document (PDF/PPT/etc) Websites
- Industry Listings
- Link Exchanges
- Local Area Web/Business Directories
- Blog Posts/Guest Posts & Comments
- Press Releases
- Forum Posts & Profiles
- Sponsor/Donation Links
Each of these link sources has it’s own specific method to acquire the link. There are a myriad of tasks when link building; most of the time we will need to create content, other times we’ll network with other websites in email correspondence, and sometimes it’s just filling out a web form.
How do we find link sources?
Although there are some obvious sources of links, it can take some work to discover highly relevant and valuable sources. This is another area where our keyword research phase pays off, allowing us to search for and find relevant websites. Utilizing a series of tools and processes we obtain a useful list of potential sources, assess their quality as link sources, and move forward with our link building activities.
A Recap in Link Building
Let’s the recap the basics of building links:
- Link building creates links from other websites pointing at your site
- When building links our mission is to create links from high quality, relevant link sources
- Anchor text explains the destinations content
- Links showcase the relevance and help to improve the authority of your content
- Increased authority leads to ranking for the search terms we’ve specifically targeted
Link building comprises almost the entirety of the off-page SEO process. The purpose of link building is to create high quality links from relevant web sources pointing to your website. Links from websites with related content reinforce your websites importance and authority within your industry, thereby increasing your websites ranking for the targeted keywords in addition to associated terms.