Link building for SEO is a popular, yet complex task for search engine optimizers. When search engine spiders crawl the web, they use links to get them from one site to the next. Using a complex algorithm, search engines can determine a site’s popularity, trust, spam and authority- all from the links that are discovered. Growing the link profile of a website is critical to gaining traction, attention and traffic from the engines. The following signals, and many more, are considered by professional SEOs when measuring link value and a site’s link profile:
Global Popularity: The more popular and important a site is, the more links from that site matter.
Local/Topic-Specific Popularity: Links from sites within a topic-specific genre matter more than those from general or off-topic sites. For instance, linking a dog groomer’s website to a doggie daycare facility ranks higher than if it were to link to a sporting goods store.
Anchor Text: If dozens of links point to a page with the right keywords, that page has a very good probability of ranking well for the targeted phrase in that anchor text.
Trust Rank: Avoiding spam and linking to credible sites improves TrustRank. Universities, government websites and non-profit organizations represent examples of high-trust domains.
Link Neighborhood: Spam links often go both ways. A website that links to spam is likely spam itself, and in turn often has many spam sites linking back to it. By looking at these links in aggregate, search engines can understand the “link neighborhood” your website exists in.
Freshness: Link signals tend to decay over time. Sites that were once popular often go stale, and eventually fail to earn new links. Thus, it’s important not only to earn links to your website, but also to continue to earn additional links over time.
Social Sharing: Although search engines treat socially shared links differently than other types of links, they notice them nonetheless.
Now that you understand what the search engines look for in links, you can develop a link building campaign in one of three ways:
- “Natural” Links:
These links are provided naturally by pages that want to link to the content on your website. No further action is required on your end, other than the ability to create great content and generate awareness about it.
- Manual “Outreach” Links:
This occurs when the SEO creates links by emailing people for links, submitting to site directories or paying for listings.
- Self-created Links:
Thousands of websites offer the user to create links through signatures, blog comments and user profiles. These links offer the lowest ranking value, however they can still have an impact for some sites. Google has been known to penalize sites that pursue this method aggressively, so use caution when using this method.