If you want to improve your search ranking and traffic success, you have got to start thinking about link building. Links are like tunnels, connecting sites and pages together, helping people to navigate the world wide web and find the content that is most relevant to them. Links are like a popularity contest; the more you have got pointing to your site, the better your search traffic and like all good popularity contests, if the cool kids are voting for you, then you are likely to be the winner.
How do search engines rank links?
Well, there is no specific evidence to support how search engines rank links, however over time, it becomes clear what factors are important to search engines and these are the things we can start to focus on. First of all there is global popularity. The more popular and trusted a site is, the more value search engines place on links coming from that site so the key is to identify relevant, trusted sites and find a way to get them to link to you.
Secondly, there is the relevance of the site linking to you. If you are a car rental company and you have sites like Ford, or VW linking to you, search engines will place a higher value to these links than if the local butchers is linking to you. This is sometimes referred to as topic-specific popularity.
Anchor text can also play a huge part. When you are looking at a link building strategy, make sure that people are using the relevant anchor text on any link pointing to your page. This should be keyword rich and consistent across every link pointing to your site/page. The anchor text should use the search phrases identified within the Search Phrase Research done, whilst also looking at your website analytics, plus a whole host of other factors.
Links from highly trusted sites also carry more weight. The internet is littered with spam; some estimate more than 60% of online content to be spam. So it is important for search engines to filter this out so trusted domains (government sites is an example, as are major news outlets such as the BBC, NY Times and even the lowly NZ Herald) carry more weight when they link to your site.
The freshness of your links is also important. Links decay over time. The page that a link is pointing to may no longer exist, content may be static and uninspiring or you may have had an overhaul of your site. It is important to maintain an ongoing link building strategy; you need to be consistently building links to your website, thereby keeping the links fresh and up-to-date. We’ve lost count of the amount of times we’ve seen clients (mainly in our previous lives) see their rankings drop once they decide to pause or cease their link building.
Finally, social sharing has changed the way we are able to link to content on the internet. The ease by which people can now add links on their Facebook page, Twitter feed or Google+ page means that there are thousands of links being created each day. Although links from social sites do not carry as much weight, if you aggregate enough of these links, it can make a significant difference to your ranking and traffic success.
How to start a Link Building strategy
In our next post, we will take a look at how to start and maintain a successful link building strategy and how Digital Hothouse can help.