The Basics of Link Building for SEO
Linking is a key ingredient to search engine ranking. In fact, it is possibly the key ingredient. While the exact algorithms and formulas for the most popular search engines like Google and Bing remain a mystery, the basic components are understood. The quality of inbound links a website has is directly proportional to its search engine ranking.
So what are inbound links? Inbound links are any instance where a website on a different domain links to one of your webpages. Does your business or organization have a listing on Wikipedia or Yelp? If so, then there is probably a link from that listing to your website (probably to your homepage). This is an inbound link.
Quantity of Links –
The more inbound links a website has, the more important the search engines deem it to be. This is because, in the search engine’s point of view, links mean popularity. And popular websites are what the search engine assumes that people want to visit when performing a search. The more important or popular the search engine deems a website to be, the more likely the search engine will serve that website up as a result for related searches. The websites deemed most important will earn the highest page one search results.
Quality of Links –
Of course, quantity is not everything with link building. Just as important as the number of inbound links your website has is the quality of these links. For example, earning a link from a large, well respected website like Wikipedia might have as big an impact on your search engine ranking as earning 100 links from small, relatively unknown blogs.
Earning links from these large websites is not particularly easy, which is why a diversified link building strategy is a key component to any search engine optimization efforts. Targeting a large number of smaller linking opportunities and a few “heavy hitters” will typically produce the best results.
Whether targeting a large, well known website or a niche industry blog, relevance is always important with link building. Having a link from a large, national retailer is great for a business selling products carried in that retailer’s stores, but it’s probably not a great fit for a company in the B2B information technology industry.
The term “link building” refers to the process of increasing the number of inbound links to a particular domain or website.
There are literally hundreds of different methods that can be used to increase the number of inbound links to a website. Some of these methods produce results relatively quickly while others can take months to develop. Additionally, some methods for link building are considered unethical and can lead to a search engine blacklisting a website.
Below are some of the link building methods that can be used to optimize a client’s search engine rankings. These are well established, ethical methods to earn inbound links that have been proven to have a dramatic effect on search engine rankings. Because every business and organization is different, the best link building strategy will always depend on a number of different circumstances. The methods listed below are just a sample of some of the more common link building methods.
Blog Submissions –
Blog submissions are one of the fastest and easiest ways to earn inbound links. There are millions of blogs on the Internet, most of which cater to a particular industry or topic. This is significant because earning relevant links is so important. This is particularly a good strategy for new or young websites.
Social Bookmarking –
Social bookmarking is the process by which people can bookmark, share and even vote on Internet content. Websites such as Digg and StumbleUpon allow users to browse countless press releases, news stories, blog posts and other pieces of content. Visitors to these social bookmarking sites can show their interest in a particular piece of content by voting on it. The most popular content is displayed on the front page of these social bookmarking sites, which can generate substantial web traffic. However, every piece of content that is “bookmarked” receives a link – regardless of popularity.
Directory Submissions: General and Niche –
Directories are large websites which catalogue and organize other webpages. For example, Yahoo! got its start as a general directory. Today, DMOZ is the most significant and respected general directory.
These directories are much more specific than general directories, catering to a particular industry or topic. There are niche directories for almost any business or organization, from wholesale foodstuffs to non-profit healthcare.
Although directories have fallen slightly in popularity as more Internet users rely on search for content, the search engines themselves view these directories as valuable and important. Thus, a link from a directory is given a good deal of credibility by search engines.
Bill Balderaz is the president and founder of Webbed Marketing, an Internet marketing firm with more than 40 clients, including several Fortune 500 companies. Bill lectures widely on social media, viral marketing and other industry topics, and was a featured presenter at the Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) annual summit.