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The Ultimate Guide to Link Building

The Ultimate Guide to Link Building

Welcome to The Ultimate Guide to Link Building!

The purpose of this ultimate guide to link building is to help business owners and marketers, build links to their website.

This ultimate guide covers:

  1. Intro
  2. How to Start a Link Building Campaign
  3. Types of Links: Good and Bad

What is link building?

Link building is the process of acquiring links from other websites to your own.

What is a link?

golden gate bridge

A link helps users of a webpage navigate from page to another. It can be from pages within a website, or from one page on a website to another.

Search engines like Google use links to their own advantage; by using them to crawl the web via websites and webpages.

There are many ways you can link build. Ask any SEO and they will tell you it’s not as easy as it seems, mainly because it is very time consuming.

If you ask me, it’s the hardest part of SEO to master.

It doesn’t help either that Serpjump specializes in link building… what was I thinking!

However, if you know how to link build properly, than it’s a sure fire way to beat your competition and get to the first page of Google.

Why is link building is crucial for SEO?

DNA of hyperlink

DNA of Link building

If you want to get a better understanding of link building, I think it’s best if we first understand the basics. And by the basics I mean how exactly is a link created, how do search engines see links, and what do they do about them.

Start of link tag : Also known as an anchor tag, opens the link tag and lets the search engines know there is a link to something else. You can notice the start of a link tag by the “a”.

Link referral location: The link referral location is the text inside a set of quotation marks, that shows the URL the link is pointing to. However, a link isn’t always going to be a webpage. It could be something else, like a PDF file to download.

NOTE: The “href” indicates “hyperlink referral”.

A URL is the most common thing you’ll see inside the quotation marks, but it could also be a #.

One of these indicates a local link (it will direct you to a different part of the page you’re already on).

Anchor text of a link: This is the part of the link that people actually see mid text. It’s something they click on to take them somewhere else. The text is usually highlighted in blue to indicate to people that it is something they can click or open.

End of link tag: This tells the search engines that the link tag has closed.

How search engine interpret links

There are two ways search engines use links:

  1. To find new web pages.
  2. To use links to determine how high they should rank web pages in the SERPs.

When search engines crawl the web for new pages, they analyse the content of those web pages and they index them. When they do this, search engines work out how well those pages should rank for any given relevant keywords.

Check out Google’s process about how it works.

When search engines are deciding how well to rank a web page, they don’t just look at the content on the page. They also take a look at the quantity and quality of links that are pointing to the site from external websites. The high-quality websites that link to a particular web page, the higher the webpage will rank for a keyword.

Google loves links.

In fact, links are what helped them dominate their competition back in the 1990s.

Larry Page, one of the founders, invented something called PageRank. It’s part of an  algorithm that determines the quality of a page, by the number of links pointing to any web page. This metric became very popular, and it’s still something they look out for today.

This method of measuring the quality of pages was great, because it represents how a link is a reference, or a vote of confidence. It means this webpage contains quality content. And if a webpage didn’t get any links, it suggests this page isn’t good enough to get links. Basically, the web page is below par in comparison to other quality web pages.

So what changed?

SEOs came along and found a way to manipulate PageRank for their own advantage, and rank for whatever keyword they wanted. Google caught on to these dodgy SEOs, and repeatedly tried to stop them in finding loop holes around the algorithm. In order to do this, Google regularly rolled out updates to combat websites that ranked for keywords against Google’s guidelines.

Google then stated to de-value certain link building techniques that were perfectly fine before. For example, submitting your website to web directories in order to get a link back to your site. Google used to recommend this technique, before realizing that SEOs were taking advantage of it.

Nowadays, Google takes strict action on sites that have attempted to over optimize and abuse certain link building techniques. For example, Penguin Updates are something which is regularly updated, to improve their algorithm and deter over-optimization. Techniques that you should follow and avoid will be mentioned later on in this guide.

No one really knows Google’s full algorithm, but it’s fair to say that link building has a huge impact on rankings, and it’s definitely something that Google considers when ranking webpages.

What factors really matter?

Generally speaking, if everything is equal the quantity and quality of the links pointing to it will make all the difference. However, in the last few years Google has focused more on social signals. Whether or not it means they have reduced the impact of links, no one knows. But it is a fact that social signals are a factor in ranking.

With all that being said it’s not doubt that getting high quality links pointing to your site will help you rank and get traffic to your site. The word “quality” as been mentioned a good deal amount of times already, and for good reason. Google focuses on quality links and filters out sites that have low quality links. This has impacted SEOs and the way they acquire links. SEOs have to make sure that they are only attempting to get high quality links.

Nofollow: What is it?

There are different attributes that can be added to a link, and one of them is called the “nofollow” attribute. This has no effect on the users, but there’s a distinct difference in the way the code of the link looks like.

You will see something like this: rel=”nofollow”.

This attribute lets Google know not to pass any link juice across the link to the webpage it’s pointing at ( target URL). Google is basically saying they don’t trust this link source, so de-values it. Therefore, it shouldn’t help the target URL rank higher.

Websites use the nofollow attribute when they can’t control the links that are added to its pages. Its essentially telling Google, they don’t trust the links that are added to its pages.

Here are some examples when rel=nofollow is used:

Guest post signatures

Blog comments

Forum comments

Wiki pages that have been edited

Yahoo answers

Users can add links to these places, and as you can imagine, it’s very impractical to monitor all of these links that are added. By default, they send a no=follow attribute as it is easier. It also helps prevent users spamming their site in order to get link juice. After all, nobody wants someone to leave hundreds of comments on their blog, solely to acquire link juice from that site.

Another reason when the nofollow attribute is used, is when advertisers use it on links that have been paid for. For example, let’s say you bought a banner on someone’s site to advertise your website. The advertiser will add the nofollow attribute to tell Google not to pass any link juice to your site. Essentially, Google doesn’t want people to ‘buy link juice’, or rank in the organic search results because you bought an advert.

Press releases and article directories are also sites that use the nofollow attribute.

For people who don’t know, links that have the nofollow attribute don’t help you rank higher in the SERPs as effectively as followed links.

After all, the average user won’t notice whether or not a link is nofollow or not, however they still could follow the link that has been placed. That’s the whole point of buying an advert online. But in terms of link building you want to aim to get followed links.

Can link building help my business?

helping your business via link building

I’ve written about this before and I still proclaim links are crucial to have, as search engines use them to help rank your site. So the more quality links you have, the higher you site will rank.

Simple.

However, there are other benefits to link building.

They may not be something that will have immediate effect, but it has long term benefits.

Building relationships

Link building normally involves manually outreaching to someone else.

The aim is to get a piece of content, and exchange it for a link (i.e guest posting). Even though you’re doing it for a link, there are other benefits to link building via outreach.

Regular outreach to industry leaders and influencers in your niche, can lead to your business becoming reputable and trusted. Putting link building to one side, this is a huge benefit as you have influencers who are advocating your business.

Increasing traffic

A link form a website that has a high amount of monthly visitors, can lead to your site’s traffic increasing. This could also lead to an increase in sales, depending on whether or not the site is relevant. If it is, then the traffic is also relevant, and your sales could receive a boost. In this case, a link is not just about SEO , it’s also about customers.

Brand building

Link building can increase your brand awareness, and help you become an expert in your niche.

How?

Through content creation and promotion.

The more people see your great content, the more people think of you as an expert in the industry.

This increases your brands reputation.

The best type of content which shows off your expertise, are case studies.

If you publish a case study, you have a good chance of people recognizing your brand. When you are outreaching, you are showing your expertise to others and are asking people in you niche to spread the word.

Link building vs Link Earning

Before you start your link building campaign, you need something that is worth linking to.

Most of the time it’ll be you’re homepage, but it could also be a blog post. Sometimes you will have content ready before you outreach (resource link), and other times you will have to create content especially to link build (guest post).

Whatever way you look at it, you need valuable content in order to get quality links. At the end of the day, no one wants to link out to a poor, low quality webpage.

Make sure your content is informative, valuable, and newsworthy, and you’re bound to get links.

That’s it for the intro. Now, it’s time you moved on to our next chapter in this ultimate guide to link building.

We talk about How to Start a Link Building Campaign.

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Tahir Miah
 

Tahir Miah is an entrepreneur, digital marketer and SEO enthusiast. He is the founder of Serpjump, a Bedford link building agency. Tahir currently advises companies on the best way to increase revenue and brand awareness through SEO, content marketing and link building. He can be found on @serpjump

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