Link Building

When it comes done to it link building is going to be the most important part of any seo you do for your site. Get enough quality links and your web pages will rank for your keywords no matter what you do on your pages. Ever since Google came onto the scene seo has been all about links and link building. That doesn’t mean you can ignore everything up to this point, but be aware that link building is going to have the most impact on your site when it comes to being found in a search engine.

Of course link building isn’t always clear. It isn’t necessarily easy either and depending on how competitive your keywords are it can take a long time before you see any results. Because it’s such an important part of seo I’m going to talk about links in general here and then offer some suggestions as to where and how you can get links to your site in my next post.

One of the keys to link building is that it should be consistent and ongoing. Link building won’t happen overnight and getting 10 links pointing to your site probably won’t take you to the top of the search results. But get 10 links back to your site every week and after a year those 500 links (I thought you deserved a 2 week vacation) will help.

Build Links For Their Own Value

As with everything else with optimization you want to think about search engines second when it comes to links. Keep in mind what your goals really are. It’s probably not that top ranking you’re ultimately looking for, but traffic to your site. Traffic can come from many places, not just search engines. When you look for sites to link to yours think about that site and decide if your site might be of interest to visitors of that other site. If your site would be of interest to them then you definitely want to add your link and you stand a good chance of getting traffic from the link itself no matter how much weight a search engine gives to it.

This is especially true if you’re going to pay for the link. Anytime you pay for a link assume it will provde 0 value as far as search engines are concerned. If you’re still willing to pay for the link then go ahead and pay for it. Linking is not only about search engines and make sure to remember that. If you build enough quality and relevant links to your site you’re site will still have traffic before, during, and after algorithm changes. Your site will still have traffic even without search engines.

Quality Links Or Quantity Of Links

When it comes to links not all links are created equal. Some are going to be better than others. So which do you want quality or quantity? The truth is you want both. The ideal situation is a large quantity of quality links. Think quality first, but you can never have too many quality links of even enough for that matter. You always want more.

That doesn’t mean you should go after every link you can. There are some links that will do nothing for your site and even some that can cause harm and even get your site banned. Link farms are the kinds of things you want to stay away from. Link farms are sites that are created solely to pass links back and forth between other sites and they constitute what’s considered a ‘bad neighborhood’ online. And in the case of ‘bad neighborhoods’ you’re guilty by association. Link spam has become a problem for search engines and many recent algorithm updates have been about eliminating link farm spam among other kinds of seo spam. Other types of links to stay away from include free for all (FFA) links pages. They’re pretty easy to find. They will typically be a page on a site called ‘Links’ filled with hundreds of links to other sites. You’re not going to get any link weight from these pages so don’t bother adding your site among the others.

What you should be looking for is one way inbound links (IBLs). Reciprocal linking is still ok, but keep it to a minimum. Reciprocal links should only account for a relatively small percentage of all your inbound links. One of the ways to get links to your site is still by asking other site owners to exchange links, but again keep this to a minimum. The one way kind are better. It’s as though that other site considers your site worthwhile enough to send visitors there even if it doesn’t provide any benefit back for the that site. That’s a pretty good vote for your site and that’s how the search engines will see it too.

Relevant Links

Relevant one way inbound links are the best kind of links you can get for your site. Even better if the links come to you naturally without requiring you to do anything to get them. Relevant links will come from sites that are related to the topic of your site. Search engines are still working on the concept of what constitutes relevance, but they are getting better at determining relevance. You can test to see how far Google has come by using the related: advanced search operator. Typing related:www.bmwusa.com into Google yields results for sites of many auto dealers. Google clearly has some idea of what sites are relevant to each other. There are limits. After all none of the sites returned for the BMW search were for tire dealerships or auto parts sites. The search engines still have a way to go and may never entirely determine that two sites are relevant to each other, but they can tell a lot.

One way to help search engines know your link is relevant is through the anchor text you use in the link. If you’re targeting auto parts as one of your keywords then as often as you can get the words ‘auto parts’ into links pointing to the auto parts pages on your site. You won’t always have control over the anchor text of links, but when you do get your keywords in there. Having your keywords in the anchor text of your backlinks is one of the best ways to help your site rank at the moment.

When it comes to the anchor text of your backlinks remember to vary it. Don’t always use the same keywords in every link. You do want to rank for more than one keyword. Also search engines are on the lookout for linking that isn’t natural. It’s unlikely that every site would choose to link to your site with the exact same text so when you get a chance to specify the anchor text in the link vary it a little. Not only should you vary the text, you should also vary where the link points to which brings us to…

Home Page And Deep Linking

While many if not most of your links will likely point to your home page not all should. In fact you should always be working to get links for deeper pages of your site. Spreading the links around your site will be a great benefit to your link building efforts. Search engines link to web pages not websites. So if you want deeper pages of your site to appear in search results get links pointing to them. You will probably always end up with more links to your home page than any other, but don’t limit your link building to your home page.

Deep linking will also prove beneficial when it comes to converting visitors into customers. People who click on a link promising to lead them to spray wax for their BMW want to be taken to a page about spray wax. Don’t make them come to your home page and then make them find where on your site the spray wax is. It may be easier for them to go back and find another link that will take them directly where they want to go.

Internal Site Linking

When one page on your site gets a link from another page on your site it still counts as a backlink for the page being linked to. Your internal links are also the one place where you completely control the anchor text of the links and which pages are most relevant to each other. Making good use of internal links can help a lot when it comes to search engines. Link all of your pages to your home page either through your main navigation or through your logo or both. When you write an article about blue widgets provide a link to the page where you sell blue widgets. Your visitors will appreciate it and so will search engines.

Those are some general ideas about link building and what kinds of links you should and shouldn’t be looking for. Hopefully you now have a better idea of what makes for a good site to get a link from and how the anchor text of your link should look on that site.There’s certainly more to know about links than what I’ve talked about here, but hopefully this will be enough to get you thinking about what kind of links you want. Of course the big question is where can you get these links. It’s one thing to know what makes a good link and another to know where you can find those links. I’ll pick the topic up next time with suggestions for where you can find links for your site and some ideas for how to get other sites to link yours without even having to ask.

SEO Basics Tutorial

Part I: Introduction
Part II: Keyword Discovery And keyword Selection
Part III: Site Building For SEO
Part IV: On Page SEO
Part VI: Tips For Getting Backlinks
Part VII: Summary And Thoughts

Download a free sample from my book, Design Fundamentals.

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