Whether you’re brand new to link building or you’ve been doing it for a while, you will find value in this article. We will go over why link building is important, what to look for and what to stay away from when kicking off a link building campaign.
The SEO landscape is always evolving especially link building. The importance of building high-quality links has never been greater. If you don’t know what you’re doing, building poor-quality links can actually hurt you more than helping you.
The need to understand and fully implement a white-hat strategy has never been more important. If you want to thrive online for many years to come, it is definitely worth slowing down and fully understanding what link building is and how it can benefit your business.
Don’t get overwhelmed by all of this information. We’ve broken it up in bite-size chunks for you to easily understand everything there is to know about link building.
What is Link Building?
Link building is an action that happens offsite when another website links back to your website. Link building is a form of off-page SEO. A link is another way for users to navigate between pages and sites on the internet.
All business owners should be very interested in building links back to their websites as it drives referral traffic and increases the authority of the site. If you ask any SEO specialist, mastering the art of building high-quality links is one of the hardest parts of their job.
Why is link building important?
Link building is extremely important as Google uses it as a major factor in how it ranks web pages. Google stated: “In general, webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
Building high-quality links are one of the hardest aspects of SEO for any SEO specialist or SEO agency. With that said, to do high-quality links in volume, the costs associated are going to be much higher than what your competitors might be spending on SEO. When building links the correct way, it separates you from your competition in Google’s eyes.
There are many other benefits to link building that you will see later in this article.
The importance of links to Google and other search engines
There are ways in which Google and other search engines use links:
- To discover web pages
- To help determine how well a page should or shouldn’t rank in their search results
Google can extract the content of your pages and add it to their indexes once their search engines have crawled your site’s pages on the web. Once that is completed, Google will decide if they feel a page is of high enough quality to be ranked for relevant keywords. Google even made a short video to explain the process, called ‘How Search Works.’
As you’ll start to learn, Google and other search engines don’t just look at the content of each page, they look at the number of quality links pointing to that specific page from external websites. They also factor in the quality and authority of those external websites. The higher quality websites that link to yours, the more likely you are to rank well in search results.
In the late 1990s, one of Google’s founders, Larry Page, invented a way to measure the quality of a page based in part on the number of links pointing to it. PageRank took off and what a metric used as part of the overall ranking algorithm Google used.
The theory of a link being seen as a vote of confidence or authority was a huge hit. It wasn’t much longer before people discovered how to manipulate PageRank and certain search results for the keywords of their choice. Google was forced to continue updating its algorithm much more regularly to actively try to fight what was happening. They focused on filtering out websites that truly didn’t deserve to rank.
In turn, this is what led Google to begin to discredit a number of link building techniques that were previously accepted. One example is the Penguin update, which decreased the search engine rankings of websites that violated Google’s Webmaster Guidelines or the use of black-hat SEO.
Google continues to enhance its algorithm to make it fair game to the over 1.94 billion websites there are in 2019.
What is a follow link?
As we’ve previously discussed, getting inbound links from authority websites provides an SEO boost. These links are hyperlinks that are pointing to a specific page on your website. The more links the better in Google’s eyes, as long as they are high-quality links.
Google looks at your website like you’re throwing a party. Is it 100 random strangers showing up that aren’t well-known or is it 300 well-known celebrities showing up to the party? Google watches your inbound links the same way.
As we previously mentioned, Google created a metric called PageRank to calculate the link points. In other words, link points are known as “link juice.” Hyperlinks allow link juice to flow through your site. The bigger and more reputable the site, the bigger SEO boost you get.
Follow links are links that Google counts as points or “link juice.” This boosts the page rank of the linked-to sites which helps increase the search results.
What are No-follow Links?
A no-follow link is a link tells Google to not count it as a point, so it doesn’t boost the PageRank.
A no-follow link is created with the no-follow link HTML tag, which looks like this:
<a href=”https://www.website.com/” rel=”nofollow”>Link Text</a>
A no-follow tag is a way that allows your site to tell search engines “Don’t follow links on this page” or to not follow this specific link. A link can have more than one relationship (rel attributes). These two attributes help Google define the relationship a link has with a page that it points to.
Here are a couple of examples:
- Forum posts
- Blog comments
- Certain blog sites
- Wiki Pages
- Paid links
- Anything involving what Google calls “untrusted content”
The importance of links for your business
As you’ve read through this article, link building is very important to grow your business online. Every day, Google gets smarter and SEO begins to get harder. It is important to begin building high-quality backlinks so you’re not getting left in the dust from your competition.
The more link juice that you have, the higher your website will rank for the keywords of your choice. When your website ranks higher int he SERPs, you have a much higher chance of turning much higher traffic into paying customers.
High-quality link building can help grow your brand online and as more people see your logo pop up, you will start to be seen as an authority in your niche. You can dive into content creation, which will help build your brand as an authority for the topics that you’re discussing. Those articles can then be used in a link building outreach campaign that should help bring high-quality links to your website.
The higher your website ranks in the SERPs, the more visibility your website has. The majority of visitors don’t go past the first page of Google, which shows the importance of ranking as high as you can for select keywords. More visibility equals more traffic which will equal more conversions as long as your website follows the standard UI & UX guidelines.
White-hat Strategies vs Black-hat Strategies
Black hat SEO refers to strategies and techniques that are used to get higher search rankings by doing short cuts that go against search engine rules. Black hat SEO focuses solely on search engines with no human element.
What hat SEO refers to strategies and techniques that target a human audience as opposed to just a search engine, which is what Google wants you to do.
What is a bad link?
Google has majorly cracked down over the years ever since people started to manipulate PageRank and certain search results for the keywords of their choice. Google actually created a list of poor link building tactics that they won’t tolerate anymore.
Google won’t tolerate manipulative links that provide a site zero value, just to try to trick Google’s algorithms. Don’t get tricked into buying links that have nothing to do with your site or industry. As long as you stay away from links that are purposely meant for manipulation, you should be in the clear.
What is a good link?
Google and other search engines want to see links that provide value to the internet. The last thing Google wants to do is send you to a site or a page that you weren’t wanting to go to and end up giving you a poor experience. Create links that are relevant and trustworthy. The Search Engine Journal released an article that detailed characteristics of a quality link.
10 Tips for Link Building
- Build quality relationships
- Ask for backlinks
- Create quality content on your blog
- Write good guest posts for other companies
- Discover your competitor’s backlinks
- Create and launch infographics
- Make your way on a “top” or “best of” list for your industry
- Hire a PR firm to get you more local press
- Look for pages that mention your competitors but not you
- Mention influencers or other companies in your posts
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