Have you ever searched for something on a search engine and ended up envious of the web pages that show up on the first search engine results page (SERP)? How did those sites end up being shown first amongst all the other sites out there?
Well, the answer in part is link building. Search engines, like Google, value sites that contain links and reward them with higher site rankings. The better the quality and quantity of the links means the higher the site will rank.
If you are looking to increase your SEO and rank higher in the SERPs, you need to spend some time on link building. It’s not an easy job, but the end results are worth it. Today, we look at the basics of link building and offer some tips on how to improve your site’s links.
What Are Links?
Before we can look at link building, we need to first understand the basics of a link. There are two main link types:
- Inbound Links – essentially an inbound link is an HTML hyperlink that connects one website to another. Also commonly known as an external link, backlink or incoming link, these play an important role in organic search rankings.
- Internal Links – these are connections that tie one web page to another within the same domain. For example, if you have a blog and link one blog post to another one of your blog posts, you have just created an internal link.
Why Links are Important
Now, you may be wondering why it’s important to know about links. The reason is exposure. It not only exposes readers on one site to other sites that offer a similar topic, but it also alerts search engines that new pages are out there.
When a new website appears on the scene, the bots that patrol the internet are not always aware that the new site exists. According to Moz.com, links allow the search engines to discover new web pages. Once they find the new sites, the links then allow the bots to rank the new site based on its link building.
Once the content is reviewed by the bots, it can then be ranked for relevant keywords based upon the quality of the content on the page and the number of links that are connected to that page.
The Importance of Link Building
Think of links as the internet’s equivalent of word-of-mouth referrals. The more people that refer you to others, the better well-known you become.
The same is true for links. The more links that exist to your website means the more well-known and authoritative your site becomes. As this progresses and your online popularity grows in a particular niche, the better your chances are for ranking on the first page of the SERP.
Are All Links Created Equal?
The answer to this question is “No”. While the function of all links is to connect one site to another, the weight of those connections is what matters. The same is true for word-of-mouth referrals.
While the function of all links is to connect one site to another, the weight of those connections is what matters. Click To Tweet
If the president of Apple recommends a product or service from another company, that referral is going to carry a lot more weight with people than a recommendation from your reclusive neighbor down the street.
When it comes to the internet, search engines are the ones that determine the weight of the referral. If a subject matter expert (for example the Associated Press) links to your website, that referral is going to boost your site’s status more than if a small start-up company made the same type of link.
Additionally, the types of sites that link to you also have an impact. The biggest reason for link building is to build up your reputation as a subject matter expert. If sites dedicated to the same subject as yours start linking to you, your reputation as an expert starts to build. However, if sites with no connection to your niche link to your site it will do less for building up your authority.
While it’s important to have lots of links, the take-away is to remember that some links will matter a whole lot more than others.
The Dangers of Link Building
Earning quality links takes a lot of work and is not done overnight. Because of this, not everyone is interested in the long-game and prefers to see immediate results. This means either buying links or linking to low-quality or spammy sites.
While it is possible to do this, you need to be warned that this type of practice can result in your site being penalized by search engines.
Link Building Summary
Link building should be an important part of your SEO strategy. It helps to build your reputation and increase your site’s exposure.
Moz.com has a great summary for link building. As a general rule, links should always do the following:
- Be earned
- Come from authoritative sites
- Come from sources that are topically relevant
- Bring qualified traffic into your site
- Increase as time goes on
If you follow these guidelines, you are on your way to creating quality links for your site.
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Jolene is a strong operations, compliance, and paralegal manager. She also loves to research and write about business as well as personal topics that help others.
Jolene @ The WP Website Help Team