Effective Link Building Strategies

What is a Link Building for SEO?

SEO TipsLinks are an important component of search engine algorithms that help them determine which websites are popular, trustworthy, and authoritative and which are irrelevant spam. Establishing an effective link profile is a critical step that will help you gain attention from search engines and draw in traffic.

While the algorithms that search engines use are not disclosed to the public, several factors can be inferred that relate to link building:

  • Popular sites have more links from trusted sources than less popular sites. Sites with links to sources such as universities, governments, and nonprofit organizations, are highly trusted. You will need to build links to establish your website as an authority. Links from related and relevant sites matter much more than links from unrelated sites.
  • Anchor text is one of the most important factors that search engines use in rankings. If many sites link to a website with relevant keywords, the site will probably rank well for the target keywords.
  • Search engines look at the "link neighborhood," or the network of sites that link to each other. Spammy sites often link to other spammy sites and have other spammy sites link back to them. You should be judicious in your choice of which sites to link to and which sites you ask to link back to you.
  • Search engines look at the "freshness" of links to determine which sites are currently popular and relevant. You should therefore seek out new links on a regular basis.
  • Sharing on social sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ also affects rankings because content is promoted to large groups of people and becomes popular. While social sharing is not the same as link building, it is still important to rankings.

There are three ways to build links:

  • "Natural" links are given by bloggers, customers, or websites that want to link to your site or blog or share it on social media because you produce quality, relevant, or newsworthy content. No special action is required on your part.
  • Manual "outreach" link building involves asking bloggers for links, submitting sites to directories, or paying for listings. Search engines discount paid links in their rankings. Websites that buy links or participate in link schemes can be penalized and see their rankings fall.
  • Self-created, non-editorial links can come from visitors to a site through guest book signings, comments, or other sources. They offer the lowest value and could be considered spam and earn you a penalty.

There are several ways to determine the value of links and develop a quality link structure:

  • Search for the terms that the page targets. Try to earn links from sites that already rank well for those keywords.
  • mozRank measures how popular a website is based on the number of quality links that point to it. A mozRank can be improved by adding quality links.
  • SEOmoz Domain Authority is a query independent measure of how likely a website is to rank for a specific keyword. It is calculated by comparing the internet’s domain graph to tens of thousands of Google queries.
  • Open Site Explorer will enable you to measure the backlinks on a site that ranks well for the keyword you are targeting so you can figure out what links helped them achieve that ranking.
  • All other things being equal, it is better to get links from a website with fewer links than it is to get links from a website with lots of links.
  • Link building can also draw in direct traffic that sends valuable visitors to your site. You can estimate this traffic by looking at analytics that measure visits and page views.

Building quality links to your website is a critical component of improving your search engine rankings. Create quality content and seek out links from relevant websites to improve your position in the SERPs.

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