Site   Web

March 24, 2008

Link Building 101

Two of the three big search engines (Google and Yahoo) place a large importance on one way links to determine rankings. Each link to your site is like a vote and the more votes you have, the higher you will rank.

In this article I will be sharing with you some important info on link building and some strategies to help your one way link building.

Before we get started, it’s important to understand the fundamentals…

Beginning with the very basics, a link is a way of navigating from one webpage to another. An ‘internal link’ is a link within the same website. An ‘external link’ takes you from a webpage in one website to a webpage in another website. The term ‘backlink’ means when another website links to yours.

There are 4 different types of links:

* URL Link – This is simply a website url that is a link.

* Text Links (aka static links) – This is the most common type of link (when you click on a word or phrase and it is a link)

* Image Links – An image link is simply an image that you click on to navigate to another webpage.

* Dynamic Links – These types of links are in another programming language called Javascript and while they also take you from one webpage to another, they have ‘extra codes’ to perform special functions.

(these types of links can appear in many different forms)

It is important to be able to recognize these types of links, even if you are not familiar with web design and programming. You don’t have to memorize the codes, just learn to identify each type of link.

Links provide navigation for human visitors and for ‘spiders’ (aka: crawlers, robots, bots). Simply put, a spider is a computer program that goes to websites and gathers information. Search engines use spiders to visit and ‘index’ your website. This means that they gather information about your site in order to list it in their search results.

When the search engine spiders index your website, they follow the links to get from one webpage to another. It’s important to know that search engines cannot follow ‘dynamic links’ and do not follow html links that have a special code in them that says ‘no follow’.

The place where ‘no follow’ is commonly found is in the “meta tags” section of the website. Simply put, meta tags are information that is for the spiders only and is not seen by human visitors. You can see the code for any website in your browser by choosing ‘view source’. (From Internet Explorer, choose Page » View Source. From Firefox choose View » Page Source)

If a search engine spider cannot follow a link from another website to yours, you can still receive visitors but the link will not have any value from a search engine optimization perspective.

What types of links should you get?

There are 2 types of links that you can get:

* One-way links – A one-way link is when another website links to you and you don’t link back to them.

* Reciprocal links – A reciprocal link is when a website links to you and you link back to them.

One-way links are more valuable in the eyes of the search engines. However, each link has its own individual value based on: how relevant it is to your site, the text in and around the link, how much authority the website that links to you has, etc.

Also, it’s important to know that you can get links that have ‘no value’ in the eyes of the search engines, but they bring you hundreds or thousands of targeted visitors…

Generally speaking, the more websites that link to you the better. However, building links takes time and energy and if you focus on getting ‘high-quality links’, you will get a bigger return on your investment. 50 high quality links can be much more valuable from a search engine optimization perspective than 1000 ‘low quality links’.

What’s a high quality link? – Links that brings you Page Reputation (which shows the search engines that other related websites consider you to be important), and links that give you PageRank. Sometimes both at once, sometimes not…

To get high rankings on your website, you want to obtain links for targeted keywords. For this reason it’s necessary to start with Keyword Research.

If your website is about “bird watching”, the first step is to ‘do keyword research’ and find out which keyword you should aim for. While you could just start getting text links for the keyword phrase “bird watching”, if no one is searching for that – you won’t get any visitors. There’s no sense in ranking on the first page for a keyword that no one is looking for.

Or, if there is a lot of competition for that keyword, you might want to pick a “lower hanging fruit”.

Here is a great free keywords tool. (The numbers you see are searches/day.)

Another important part is making sure your page is optimized for the keyword you are targeting. If you are focussed on building one way links to your site but the links have anchor text which doesn’t even appear on your page, you will likely be wasting your time. (I say likely assuming that you have some competition for your targeted keywords, if there is no competition then it doesn’t matter).

In this case a site that has fewer one way links but much better on-page optimization is likely to rank higher. Or maybe you are building one way links to your site but they are just url links and not anchor-text links. Another site that has less links than you but better quality (anchor-text) will be likely to rank higher.

Ideally, you want to build a lot of one way links that have anchor text which includes the primary and secondary keywords that your page is optimized for. Google also uses Latent Semantic Indexing which (in a nutshell) means that they study the synonyms of the keywords on your page. This is to prevent spammers from just loading every second word with their keywords. Their algorithm looks at all the words on your page and how they relate to each other.

So, there’s no sense in building one way links if your content is not worthwhile. You want to optimize your pages for your visitors first. Then, you can go through and “sprinkle” your keywords. Then, go out and get one way links with the anchor-text of your targeted keywords, ideally getting most of these links from websites that are related to yours.

Yes, Google also looks at the relationship between your website’s content and the websites that links to you’s content. Fewer links to your business site from other business sites will be more valuable link-wise than more links coming to you from a site about video games..

Don’t make these link building mistakes:

* Don’t spend all your time getting one way links from sites with no Page Rank. One or two links from related Page Rank 5+ sites can be worth more than 100 links from sites with no PR.

* Be careful about buying links or you can get banned. Especially be careful about Site Wide links. If your website only has a few backlinks one day and the next day you have hundreds Google will see this and penalize you.

* Don’t spend all your time building one way links that are url-links, you want to get anchor-text links.

* Make sure the links you get are actually worth something, don’t get “No-Follow” links.

Happy Link Building!

Jason Storm is an SEO Expert who consults for small-business owners who want to increase their search engine rankings by using content optimization and one way link building strategies. Visit his website Affordable SEO Services for more info and articles.