In SEO, the word “link” gets thrown around a lot. Backlinking, internal and external links, and no-follow links are all commonly said when describing link building. But what exactly is link-building and why is it important to your website? Links play a big role in determining how well your site will rank in the search engine result pages, or SERPs. Links are one of the primary factors used to determine a website’s quality or authority. In this blog, we will discuss what exactly links are, what purpose they serve, and ways that you can add useful links to your website and boost your SEO efforts in an entirely white-hat, legal way.
Links are established any time a website (other than yours) adds a hyperlink to your website. This process of acquiring external links to your site is commonly referred to as backlinking. The sites that link to your site help Google to decide whether your site is credible or not. This is vitally important because your site’s credibility determines if you will rank highly for your target keywords or not. Think of these links as a vote of confidence from those other sites. They are telling Google to trust you, which is why it is important to acquire links from reputable sites. When PageRank was first introduced, SEO’s took advantage of the power of links, and over-optimized their sites — often purchasing low-quality links in bulk. Google wised up, and started penalizing websites that used these tactics. Google’s regularly updated ‘Penguin’ algorithm helps them to weed out these types of links. We’ve seen penalties from this first-hand and they aren’t easy or inexpensive to overcome, so focusing on slow-and-steady, white-hat link building is crucial.
So getting links to your site will help improve it’s SERP performance? Yes, but only if the links are of high quality. We cannot stress this point enough, because not only will a low quality link not help you, but Google could actually penalize you for using them. And trust us, recovering from Google penalties is no picnic.
So how can you determine if your linking opportunities present high or low quality links? For starters, a link from another quality website will almost always be a good link, and these are the ones you should pursue. Acquiring these natural or organic links can be difficult though. There are two ways in which this can happen.
- The first is that another website owner finds your content, and decides to add a link to your content on their site. This is awesome, because, well, you didn’t have to do anything.
- The other method is much more common, and it involves you reaching out and requesting links. Maybe your site has awesome content, but your site is small or new and people haven’t found your content. Reaching out to relevant sites and bloggers and requesting a link is a very common way to build these links. A big underlying theme here is to make sure that you have engaging, linkable content (otherwise nobody will link to you).
The links to avoid are the ones that you manufacture. Adding links to your site in the comment section of blogs, embedded links in infographics, forums etc. are all considered “black-hat” techniques that will bring the wrath of Google upon you.
So how can you use these “good” links to your advantage? Well, like we said before, having high-quality links will help your site to rank more highly for your target keywords, which will improve your chances of attracting organic traffic. Getting your links out on these other websites and blogs can also provide you with high quality referral traffic. Since your site will generally be linked to by sites and blogs that are relevant to your industry, the referrals will most likely be interested in your products or services. Also, reaching out to these other sites is a great way to build your brand and establish relationships.
No matter what kind of business you are in, if you have a website, you need to be focusing on link building. Having high quality external links to your website is crucial if you want to rank highly in the Google results. So get out there and start getting yourself some links!