Understanding Link Building for SEO
If you’re new to SEO you may have read about links – or specifically “link building”. But you might wonder – “Why do I need links?” and “What types of links are good for SEO?”
What makes links so important is that they are used by search engines when determining your rankings. Links are like an online currency. The more quality links pointed at your website, the higher your site will rank- that’s why it’s important to actively “build” links.But not all links are created equal.
What Makes a Good Link?
Domain authority (trust) – Imagine for a moment that two people recommend a product to you. One is a trustworthy old friend with a lot of credibility, but the other is a shady man hiding in an alleyway. Whose recommendation do you value? Search engines see links as “recommendations” or a vote of confidence for your website. If these links come from trusted, well established domains, they can be exceptionally valuable. If they come from shady, spam-infested domains without any unique content, they’re likely to be disregarded.
Content relevance – Another factor that makes a link worthwhile is the relevance of the contenton the page which is linking to you. For example, if you run a pet shop, a link from a directory of pet shops or another site all about pet care will be relevant, while a link from a site about industrial waste management would not.
Anchor text – Also important is the anchor text of the link. Anchor text is the wording of the hyperlink. A great link will include your keywords in the anchor text. For example, a link that says “Red widgets” will be more valuable to a website selling red widgets than a link reading “Website” or “Click here”.
The trouble is, finding great linking opportunities is difficult. Learning to seek out, identify and capitalize on strong linking opportunities – or create them – can be a time intensive task.
Don’t be fooled by offers that promise 1,000 back links for a small fee. The links that come from these schemes are usually of poor quality from spammy directories or contrived pages known as “link farms” that pass little or no value. Be leery of anyone proposing affiliate linking programs or proposing you purchase links from high-ranking but unrelated sites. Google frowns upon these activities and will devalue those links – or worse – penalize your site for engaging in these tactics!
What many don’t realize is that a link building campaign takes time and should be directed by a carefully crafted strategy. Your SEO team should be able to tell you what their link building approach is and outline that strategy in plain English. Link profiles should be built over time, look natural, be varied in their sources and anchor text and point to various pages of your site – not just the home page.
It can be complicated and time intensive to build the hundreds or thousands of links you’ll need to achieve top rankings. But with the right expertise, a savvy search engine optimizer will come up with creative ways to generate quality links to your site – and get you great rankings in the process!