How can you get your website to score high in search engine listings? Where your page ranks is dependent on a whole host of criteria, like your use of keywords, your frequency of updates, whether or not your site is mobile friendly, and the length of time it takes for your site to load. But one of the most important factors, possibly even the most important factor that determines your search engine listing has to do with how other internet users perceive your site.
A website that has been linked to over and over again, or linked to by major companies and organizations, is a sure sign that it contains useful and relevant content. It’s considered a “good” website. Websites that aren’t being linked to can be a sign that it has some problems: it’s outdated, it’s inaccurate, it’s uninteresting, it’s not well designed, etc.
What Is Link Building?
Link building refers to a series of techniques that are used to encourage, persuade or prompt other individuals and businesses to link to your website. While considered to be one of the most difficult and time-consuming aspects of SEO, it often comes with the highest payoff. Think of links to your website as a “vote” for your website. Link building is like creating a strong election campaign. The more you’re able to get other websites to “vote” for you, the higher your website is likely to be listed.
How Does Link Building Give You Better SEO?
A few years ago, before search engines had evolved into the level of sophistication they have now, a company could pump out hundreds of blog articles each month and watch their rankings rise. Unfortunately, this created a problem – a lot of the content, focusing more on keyword usage than valuable information, wasn’t very good. Users were frustrated having to sort through pages and pages of junk before they could find what they were looking for.
Today search engines focus more on quality than quantity. Having well-written content matters. Having up-to-date content matters. A clean design matters. A clear call to action matters. Obviously, with nearly a billion websites on the internet, and with over a 100,000 new ones being launched each day, it would be impossible for Google or Yahoo Bing employees to personally evaluate each and every one. That’s why they trust internet users to do it for them.
Search engines take into consideration what sites are linking to a website as well as how often, to help determine a site’s overall importance. But like all tips and tricks for improving your SEO, there’s a right way and a wrong way. The right way could strongly influence your ranking, getting your website on the front page of search engine listings, while the wrong way can quickly sink it further towards the bottom.
Link Building Do’s
Develop A Quality Site: If you want to get votes for having a quality website, you first need to have a quality website. No matter how much time and energy you put into link building, you won’t get very far if your website lacks the core elements that create a positive experience for your users. If your website is slow to load, confusing to navigate, difficult to read or in some way glitch-y, your link building efforts aren’t going to work.
Create Sharable Content: Not only does it help to have a content marketing strategy, it helps to generate content that users are going to want to share. So while the news story on your company’s culture may be interesting, it’s probably not something a lot of other websites are going to want to link to. Therefore, in addition to those types of pieces, you should focus on developing things like infographics and evergreen articles internet users will be able to pass around for a long time.
Find Ways to Broaden Your Reach: Even the best websites can go unnoticed if they’re not given a little exposure. You should find creative but credible outlets for your site’s address to be incorporated. More importantly, it should be incorporated within a context that makes sense. A mention in an industry newspaper or online review could score some major points. While including your link in a guest blog post or an online forum response is also helpful, because you’re leaving the link yourself, it won’t pull quite as much weight.
Link Your Pages To One Another: One step that website owners often forget when link building for SEO is that links within their own website can still count as “votes.” If the copy on your homepage references your contact page, link to it. If you have a blog article that touches upon a subject you’ve covered before, link to it. With that being said, don’t try to link everything. Having too many links or irrelevant links will suggest to search engines that you’re trying to beat the system and they will penalize you for that.
Link Building Don’ts
Ask For Links: In some scenarios, asking for links is okay. If a website is listing all the non-profit organizations in the area, and you’re a non-profit organization that isn’t listed, it would be perfectly acceptable to ask for your website to be added as well. If your company is working with another company, both parties may agree to include a link to one another’s sites. What you shouldn't do is reach out to website owners with the proposition that if they link to your site, you’ll link to there’s, especially if the content isn’t even related. Google refers to this tactic as a form of “link scheming” and it won’t bring you the results you’re looking for.
Buy Links: Just like search engines can generally determine whether or not links have been exchanged to benefit the internet user, they can usually determine when links have been bought. Purchased links are often irrelevant, don’t make sense with the surrounding context, and come from sites that search engines don’t trust anyway – so much for a quality backlink. Not only do search engines have a team to help uncover websites that have bought or sold links, they encourage everyday internet users to report these sites. If your site is found to have purchased links, don’t expect it to rank high anytime soon.
Be a Link Dropper: You’ve probably seen these comments on your blog before: “Great article! Check out my website! (link to their own website that has nothing to do with yours)” If you can properly incorporate your website into a real, honest response to a blog article that’s related to your industry, that’s great, but avoid dropping your URLs in random places, whether it be in blog comments, forum responses, or on social media. Search engines can pick up on this, too.