Using Link Building for Search Engine Optimization
Recently I have been publishing a lot of content about Search Engine Optimization. Today I am sticking with this theme! This post is about link building and why it is a vital part of any SEO strategy!
By the end of this post I will have covered the following:
- What is link building?
- Why are backlinks important for SEO?
- What are the different types of links?
- High quality / low quality links
- Nofollow / follow attributes
Let’s dive right in!
What Exactly is Link Building?
If you are interested in optimizing your online content for search engines you may have come across the term link building. But what does it all meaaaan Basil? (If you got that reference you’re my new BFF!
Before we continue I’m going to clarify some key terminology that will underpin the information I am sharing. Link building is the process of growing a back catalogue of external and internal links in relation to your website / blog!
There are two main types of links:
- Backlinks – links from other websites to your website (external)
- Outbound links – links from your website to other websites (internal)
You can also interlink your own content. An example of this would be; linking to your previous posts within a new post. It’s the Inception of the link building!
Why are Backlinks Important for SEO?
Links to your website are one of the MOST important factors for high search engine rankings. You will never achieve high rankings on Google, Bing/Yahoo or other major search engines without having good links.
Furthermore, Google will ONLY list your website in their search results if they find at least one other website that links to your site. Anyone else experiencing palpitations?
Let’s do a quick rundown of how backlinks work to influence your search engine success!
- ALL major search engines use backlinks to rank websites.
- Other websites send you visitors through these links.
- Exchanging reciprocal links with other sites will build a great link directory.
Some experts hold the opinion that link building doesn’t hold as much water due to the changes in SEO. However, don’t be fooled! In 2018 these links are just as important as ever when it comes to building your online authoritah – hopefully we have some South Park fans in the room…
The only difference is how these links are now analyzed by search engines. I will go through this in depth later 😊
The more other websites link to your site, the higher the results of your search engine ranking. If lots of other websites link to your website, then your website must be useful and therefor important.
Cool, this seems simple enough…
Yeah you guessed it, this link building gig isn’t just about quantity but quality.
Slow clap for Google.
What Makes a Good or Bad Link?
It is important to note that links can be divided into two categories – low and high quality. But how do we serfs of the search engines identity the quality of a link?
I’ll give you a quick overview to ease you in gently.
It’s gonna get tumultuous folks.
Low-quality links that are easily spammed—blog comments, paid links, etc.— can actively harm your site. When I first stumbled upon this I freaked out. I LOVE commenting and engaging with other blogs that have provided value to me.
I dug a little deeper, once again think quality NOT quantity. When you read a post that has provided value to you, leave a comment detailing why! Add your own value to the post with your comment. If there is any information you feel would be beneficial to add, include this within your comment.
Avoid short comments such as “great post” / “nice job” rather than spam commenting, aim to write meaningful ones.
If you really want to rock link building, you cannot beat links that are earned through high-quality content, outreach and influencer marketing. This takes time and dedication. Make EVERY post count and you will be paid back 100-fold in the long run! This is the safest and most effective way to increase your search engine prowess.
For those that have the time let’s delve a little deeper.
- Links from pages with high authority will help to increase the PageRank of your website.
- Links from websites with high PageRank have a positive effect on the rankings of your own site.
- Links from web pages within your niche.
If a website is well known and if the site has good search engine rankings, then it’s likely that it is also an authority website.
**Be cautious if you are planning to use the Google PageRank that is displayed in the green bar in Google’s toolbar as this is not the PageRank that Google uses for its ranking algorithm.**
The potential for low quality backlinks outweighs the good. Sigh. This is even more reason to be vigilant. If you take your content seriously, you are essentially building your own personal brand.
I don’t know about you, but I aim to be a trustworthy source of information. I would hate this to be compromised by a low quality link!
Low quality backlinks are links that don’t positively impact your search engine rankings. The worst-case scenario…low quality links can cause search engines to ban your website from their search results.
Just gonna to take a moment…to process…
Please enjoy this brief intermission…normal service will resume shortly. Whilst you wait why not enjoy some info from my previous post!
OK. I’ve composed myself let’s do this.
If the link to your website is on a web page that links to everyone and their dog, it won’t have a positive effect on your search engine rankings. Aim to get links from web pages that are related (even loosely) to your content.
When you think about it, it kind of makes sense in terms of customer experience too. People may be directed to your site out of curiosity from these unrelated links, but 9 times out 10 they’ll leave very shortly after.
Not great for your bounce rate!
I’m a poet and I did not know that?!
Links from web pages that are related (even loosely) to your website are a better option!
Links from an Automated Linking Scheme
Automated linking schemes usually promise hundreds of links in a very short time with very little work.
Such schemes have been created with only one function in mind. To CHEAT the search engines… and the search engines don’t take kindly to schemes that cheat them around here!
Some such services offer the following:
- Automatically create blog comments
- Create profiles on social media sites with a backlink
- Post your link in online forums
- Automatically create forum accounts
At first glance it would seem like the factory in which search engine dreams are made. But dreams aren’t made in a factory kid! Was that dramatic enough? I hope so!
This sort of spammy link building can really hurt your site. Worst case scenario your site will get banned. AVOID.
Furthermore all major search engines employ people to actively seek out these linking schemes. I can’t help but think of search engine versions of “Dog the Bounty Hunter” or “Cheaters”?!
Don’t take my word for it check out this post from the Google Web Masters themselves!
Some websites link to a page on their own website that redirects to your website. It would look like this:
In the short term you could profit from small drips of direct traffic here and there. But these links won’t help your search engine rankings.
Links that Cannot be Found by Search Engine Spiders
If the link to your website cannot be found easily, it is highly likely that the spiders *shudder* will ignore the link to your site.
Watch out for the following:
- If the link to your website is hidden with a scripting language, then search engine spiders won’t analyze it.
Nofollow / Follow attributes
Another topic of discussion within the link building sphere are nofollow / follow attributes.
WHAT is this wizardry I hear you ask?!
- Follow attribute – informs search engine spiders that they should follow and index the link
- Nofollow attribute – It allows webmasters to mark links that should not be followed by search engine spiders.
They are both HTML attributes used by Google, Yahoo and Bing. You can identify these attributes by checking the HTML code of your link partners to find out if they use a nofollow attribute to link to your site.
The full code will look like this:
<a href=”http://www.example.com/page.html” rel=”nofollow”>This is a link.</a>
Never checked the code on an external site before?
Well alriiiighty then. Here’s how:
PC Keyboard Commands
- Firefox: CTRL + U
- Internet Explorer: CTRL + U
- Chrome: CTRL + U
- Opera: CTRL + U
Mac Keyboard Commands
- Safari: Option+Command+U
- Firefox: Command + U
- Chrome: Option+Command+U
If you won’t to hone in on EXACTLY what you are looking for, CTRL + F works the same in and out of source code!
There are conflicting opinions about nofollow / follow attributes regarding link building. Some experts suggest that you should only allow backlinks that have a follow attribute attached to them.
If Google finds a link with the “nofollow” attribute, it will disregard the page and won’t count the link in calculating PageRank scores. Links that contain the nofollow attribute might help you to get direct traffic from the website with the link, but they aren’t great for search engine rankings.
I have also read that nofollow attributes are easier for us humans to find and engage with. Having some nofollow backlinks appears like a more natural set up to search engines. AKA no signs of playing the system.
Finally just because nofollow links don’t provide SEO link value doesn’t make these links worthless. You can still gain referral traffic from these. For example you shouldn’t resist commenting on a relevant blog or forum post because they have the nofollow attribute. Just remember focus on relevance and add some value to the original post of forum chat!
As a fan of the middle ground, it seems sensible to allow a larger ratio of follow attribute backlinks but not exclude nofollow links completely.
If you want to know more check out this post straight from the Google wizards!
PHEW. I had SO much more I wanted to include within this post but it’s already super long. I have another installment planned though! Hopefully this will give folks time who are unfamiliar with the world of link building to process the information shared here.
SEO can change SUPER quickly. Which means we must adapt. It really is sink or swim territory. But certain things remain consistent.
- Content that engages your viewers
- Site speed
It is also important to remember the recipe of quality a backlink = Relevancy + Trust + Authoritative Website! If you remember this equation you can’t go far wrong!
In the next instalment we will investigate different link building methods. Good ole’ wholesome, time honoured and legitimate link building methods that we can begin to put into practice!
As always if this has been useful or you have more to add, hey maybe I’ve missed something? I’m only human after all. I encourage you to leave a meaningful comment 😊
Until next time!
If you enjoyed this post you may like my previous deep dive into SEO! Click the image to go check it out.
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