It’s easy to over complicate search engines and how they work but when you look at it simply search engines have one agenda; giving the end user the highest quality and most relevant results based on their search query. To do this, search engines have to crawl an inconceivable amount of web pages and index them in such a way that they can return useful information no matter what the user is looking for - no easy feat.
The start of this process sees Google’s spiders set off on a journey around the web in search of information. They will visit every indexed website, travelling down all links it finds along the way. This process not only allows the search engine to find new and relevant content, but also to assign value to a page by identifying who links to it and what authority they have in their industry. If you were to compare this to a real world example, a link would very much be like a recommendation from a friend to a useful piece of information.
There is not much consensus when it comes to best practice link building as the rules are forever changing. However, below we will talk through what makes a good link and some do’s and don’ts when it comes to building links.
Link building methods
Organic link building
Organic or natural links, it doesn’t matter what you call them; search engines likes them. Organic links are those that are created without any prompting or conscious effort to generate. Another person or business will link to your site if the content is relevant to their agenda and will appeal to their demographic. Normally if a site links to you they will be in your industry and it may be something that may benefit their audience.
If other reputable organisations within your industry are linking to your content, there’s a good chance it will increase your standing in the search engine rankings.
Pro-active link building
If you’re passionate about your brand, now’s the time to show it. Pro-active link building involves researching reputable trusted websites within your industry and contacting them to ask for a backlink to your website. As with any relationship it is give and take. Simply asking other websites to link to yours is not going to work. You must ask yourself “what value will linking to my website add to their business”. If you truly believe in your brand this will shine through in your proposal.
Self created link building
Being the easiest of the methods, self created links are also the least valuable. However, they do hold merit if you link in the right places. Self created links are those where you manually published on the public domain. You will tend to find these links on public forums within your industry or commented on noteable social media links. Another good method of self created links is to create an article or blog post on something within your field of expertise that contains a backlink to your website. You would then post this article on an article directory or appear as a guest blogger on somebody else’s website.
What makes a good link?
Ensure that your network of links is topical and relevant to the product or service that you offer. There’s no merit in linking to every website imaginable and expecting to receive positive feedback. Links must add value and be relevant to the page they were linked from.
Spam web pages tend to link to other spam web pages. If spam websites are linking to you there’s a chance search engines will associate you with a spam network which may have a negative effect on your rankings. With an estimated 60% of web pages on the internet being spam, you must be careful not to attract links from any ungenuine sites.
When a brand receive a celebrity endorsement you would expect a notable increase in sales. The same principle applies if you receive a backlink from a globally recognised brand. For example, if you were selling mobile devices and you received a back link from ‘Apple.com’ it would have a categorically positive affect on your search engine rankings.
TrustRank is a link analysis technique created to filter the web and separate the spam sites from genuine sites. If you have backlinks from well trusted authoritative website in your industry, your rankings will increase.
Over time, content on web pages becomes outdated and so does the webpage itself. If you have backlinks from webpages with outdated content on them it may negatively affect your rankings. Ensure that all pages that link to your site display relevant, up to date content.
Search engine rankings are an elusive thing to fully grasp and even an effective link building strategy cannot guarantee better page rankings. However it is a fundamental part of the ranking process and with the tips above you can begin building your link network.