The SEO and link building landscape is always changing, and today, the importance of building high quality links has never been greater. The need to understand and implement high quality campaigns is essential if you are to compete and thrive online, and that will not change soon. This guide is designed to help you move quickly in the right direction.
What do search engine links mean?
There are two basic ways in which search engines use links:
- to discover new web pages
- to determine how well a page should rank in their results
Once search engines have crawled pages on the Internet, they can extract the content of those pages and add it to their indexes. This way, they can decide if they think a page is of sufficient quality to rank well for relevant keywords (Google has created a short video to explain this process). When deciding this, search engines don’t just look at the content of the page; it also looks at the number of links placed to that page on external sites, as well as the quality of those sites. In general, the more high-quality websites that link to your site, the more likely you are to rank well in search results.
Links as a ranking factor are what allowed Google to begin dominating the search engine market in the late 1990s. One of the founders of Google, Larry Page, invented PageRank, which Google used to measure the quality of a page based in part on the number of links placed to it. This value was then used as part of the overall ranking algorithm and became a strong signal because it was a great way to determine the quality of a page.
It was so effective because it was based on the idea that a link could be seen as a vote of confidence about a page, meaning it would not receive links if it were not worth it. The theory is that when someone links to another site, they are actually saying that it is a good resource. Otherwise, it would not connect to it.
However, site owners soon discovered how to manipulate PageRank and search results for their chosen keywords. Google has begun actively trying to find ways to find sites that manipulate search results, and has begun to release periodic updates specifically targeting sites that don’t deserve to be ranked.
This has also led to Google starting to reduce a number of link building techniques that were previously considered good, such as submitting your site to web directories and getting a link. instead. This was a technique that Google actually recommended at one point, but it became overused, so Google stopped transmitting a lot of value from those types of links.
More recently, Google has actively sanctioned rankings of sites that have attempted such excessive use of these techniques – often referred to as over-optimization – in link building. Regular updates to Google Penguin are one such example. Knowing what link building techniques should be avoided and staying in line with Google’s rules is an important topic that we will discuss later in this guide.
We don’t know the complete algorithm that Google uses to determine its search results – this is the company’s “secret sauce”. Despite this, the general consensus among the SEO community (according to the 2015 Moz search ranking survey) is that links still play an important role in that algorithm.
Building backlinks and their importance
As we have discussed, links are a very important signal that search engines use to determine rankings. So, we know that increasing the number of high quality backlinks placed to your website can significantly increase your chances of ranking well.
However, there are other benefits of link building that may be less obvious, but still worth considering.
Link building can often involve accessing other relevant sites and blogs in your industry. This information often refers to promoting what you have just created, such as a piece of content or an infographic.
Sending referral traffic
We talked about the impact of links on your rankings, but what about the impact of links on referral traffic? A good link from a very visited site can also lead to increased traffic. If it is a relevant site, it is possible that the traffic is also relevant and can lead to increase sales. Again, in this situation, the value of a link is not just about SEO, but about clients.
Good link building can help you build your brand and establish yourself as an authority in your niche. There are several link building techniques, such as content creation, that can show people your company’s expertise. , and this can go a long way in developing your brand. For example, if you create content based on industry data and publish it, you have a chance to become known in your industry.
Before you build links, you need something of value. It is often the home page of your site. Most of the time, however, you create links to specialized resources, such as a blog post, tool, research study, or graphics. Sometimes these materials exist long before the link building campaign begins. Other times, create these resources specifically for the purpose of creating links in mind.
All link building campaigns need to start with something worth connecting to. It is very difficult to build links to low value pages, but when you start with something really valuable that people find useful or worth sharing, link building is a much smaller effort.