In the third part of our new free resources series on Online Marketing, we look at what you need to know about Link Building, how Google finds its way through websites and how useful links can increase your rankings.
Link Building – What is it?
Link Building is a way of increasing your website’s popularity and reliability by building links between your website and other reliable and relevant websites. This in turn means that you are more likely to appear in searches, if relevant words in the website that you are linked to are used. This determines how well a search engine values a given page by searching for keywords and phrases that a page targets.
How Does Google find its way through websites?
In Google's words— "quantity, quality, and relevance of links count towards your rating"
According to Google, the largest search engine, it has to trawl through 30 trillion webpages 100 billion times a month! It does this by “crawling”; following links from page to page, almost like paths between roads. Pages are sorted by content and other factors which allows Google to rank each site accordingly, distinguishing between high quality content and spam.
There are many types of links, and some are more valuable than others and contributes to SEO ranking factors.
Natural links are given logically by sites and pages that want to link to your content or company, attracted by quality content.
Direct links are a chance to submit your information to directories or pay for listings on other sites. Such links include link advertisements, paid linking, article distribution, directory links and comments on forums, blogs and other interactive forms of social media.
Self-created links give others opportunities to comment in virtual guest-books and blogs. These are however considered to be of the least value and are often considered as spam.
Popular links act as “votes” as to how trusted a site is based on content quality, the more popular the links, the better. I.e. if the website you are linked with has other popular websites linked to it, this will be a plus for you too in earning trust and authority within search engines.
Types of Links and how they work
It is more important to be linked to sites that have a similar genre/market to you. E.g. if your company specialises in computer manufacture, it is more valuable to have a link to a computer software company rather than a clothes shop. Every inbound link counts, however a link from a website with similar content matter will carry more weight.
Anchor text is the clickable text in a hyperlink. If the right keywords are included in the link title, the page will have a good chance of ranking well.
As mentioned earlier, it is important to be selective with your links, making sure that you are not building links with spam sites, as you may be penalised in the search engine rankings. Such sites can include Blogging comment networks, where unnecessary information is written to try to confuse search engines. Thoughtful and relevant blogs however are a great way of engaging with your community.
As with keywords, it is really important to constantly make sure that they are updated and kept current. Blogs are a good way to keep your content up-to-date, updating your website with new “fresh” content regularly will help in keeping you higher up in the rankings, helping you to build a natural backlink profile.
According to the Daily Mail, an estimated 60% of web pages are considered to be spam. Many of these spam pages are created to mislead search engines. TrustRank is a link assessment technique described in a paper by Stanford University used to separate useful website with quality content from spam sites. The further a site’s link from a highly rated website (or “seed set”), the more likelihood that it contains spam.
It is important to build a network, connected to useful, content-rich websites to make sure that your own website gets its exposure on the search engine rankings. This will not only drive more inbound traffic to your site, but may also lead to further links in the future.
Social Media Links
Social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube are a big part of our daily activities these days, and although they are used outside of the work arena, they are also really useful tools within this area. To market and advertise products cost money, but with social media, it is very easy to spread your company’s offerings across a vast amount of people in a very short space of time. Search engines do treat socially-shared links differently to other types of links, but they do obviously have their uses, and there is still a rising importance of social channels.
At CBW, we are fortunate to have our very own SEO expert, Barnaby Pitts, who can help you determine which keywords are going to be the most effective in this type of marketing.
In Part 4 we’ll be covering more about Social Media, giving an overview of the main platforms, and how best to use each one efficiently.