While the foundation of link building is everchanging, the importance of link building has never been greater. Links are a strong ranking factor for Google’s search algorithm. The impact that SEO links have on a website is extensive, and it can greatly affect ranking. Link building improves rankings, increases traffic to websites, and grows website popularity.
How Links Affect SEO
Links are an essential part of SEO as they allow search engine algorithms to navigate to various web pages. In SEO, links act as a quicker route allowing a search engine crawling bot to access one webpage from another. Links also provide another point of reference for ranking. By following linking patterns and analyzing link sources, search engines have a more reliable way of measuring link popularity, authority, and quality of a specific page or website in general.
SEO Link Signals
What do search engines look at when analyzing links?
Search engines use many different markers to help them effectively rank pages based on links. The actual details of what search engines look for are not known, but based on real-life testing, experience, and application, it is possible to make educated assumptions about what is considered important. Link signals assumed to be most important include:
- Global Popularity. Websites and pages that are commonly linked to by several different sources are more popular globally. The more links a site has, the more trustworthy it becomes to search engines.
- Targeted Popularity. Links from sites with related topics are generally considered more valuable than links from unrelated sites. These “local” links show more relevance and popularity for your site within a certain context.
- Anchor Text. Anchor text is the text contained in the link itself. A website URL could be the anchor text or a set of words with a URL hyperlinked to it. When more links are pointing to a specific page, they will usually contribute to that page’s rank for keywords within the anchor text of the links themselves.
- Link Trust. Some links are more trusted than others. The more trusted a domain is, the more valuable a link from that domain is. Because of the prevalence of spam sites, links from sources that have lower trust will not be as significant as links from highly trusted sites.
- Link “Neighborhoods.” In practice, many spam sites link out to other spam sites and contain links from spam sites. Search engines can determine which sites are spam based on linking patterns by looking at the big picture for different sites.
- Recent Links. Sites that continually receive backlinks are more likely to rank more highly than those that only receive backlinks once before going stale. This is because recent links indicate relevance to a modern user.
- Social Sharing. Link shares on social media can strongly impact SEO, although it is not fully understood how search engines classify these links. The impact of links from social media accounts has grown over the years, but they are not treated the same way as a link from a website.
Link Building for Website Popularity
When optimizing a website, link building is a popular technique used to improve a website’s ranking. Link building campaigns all vary and depend solely on the creativity and dedication of the site owner.
Webpages can have natural, manual, or self-created backlinks. Natural links are those that come through awareness of content alone. Manual links are those that you gain through outreach to other sites. Self-created backlinks, also called non-editorial backlinks, are gained by you posting your links in different places around the web, including guest books, comments, and other public places online.
There are a few things to pay attention to when judging the success, status, or progress of a link-building campaign. These include:
- Ranking for relevant keywords.
- MozRank (a metric ran by Moz).
- Domain Authority.
- Competitor’s backlinks.
- The number of links on a page.
- Potential referral traffic.
Sample Link Building Strategies
Link building strategies depend on the type of site, the size of the site, and the industry. Many different people use a few common examples for their websites.
E-commerce websites often ask customers to link to them through social sharing and other means to increase their backlinks. Other online businesses will create a company blog that includes informative, entertaining, or valuable resources that encourage others to link to the content.
Some success can be found in making viral or shareable content that promotes natural linking. This strategy is often difficult to implement but has great rewards for SEO. In some cases, newsworthy events, promotions, and other stories about an owner’s business can also help achieve natural linking.
Paying for backlinks is typically not as effective as natural links, and many search professionals discourage it. Websites that have been detected buying or participating in link schemes risk serious penalties that will cause a decline in rankings.
Image Building Media
Image Building Media is an internet marketing company based in Tampa, Florida, serving clients in various industries throughout the U.S. We specialize in internet marketing, including SEO, social media marketing, website design, content marketing, video marketing, email marketing, SMS marketing, mobile web marketing, online reputation management, CRM integration, and more. We also provide consulting services, including conversion analytics.