Moz explains it so clearly: “For search engines that crawl the web, links are the streets between pages.” The more streets that lead to you, the more visible your site will be. Links to you are like votes; someone’s vouching for you.
When Googlebot uses algorithms to crawl and index websites, it recognizes external links and it reads the anchor text of each link. Quality links from other websites to yours (we call these “inbound links”) tell search engines your site is trustworthy and relevant.
Anchor text refers to the word or phrase that is hyperlinked to an external site.
If a site links to your website with the phrase “Dallas fertility center,” search engines can tell that your site relates to that phrase. However, if a site links to you with “click here,” search engines don’t learn a thing from that anchor text. Links with descriptive anchor text will help you rank for relevant keywords more easily.
So how do you create a proper link building campaign? The best approach is not one, but a variety of link building strategies.
Gain Links from Quality, Timely Content
Many clients wonder whether they should blog on their own website or if they should be a guest writer on an external blog. The answer is: both. Creating quality content on your own embedded blog is a great marketing tool. Your blog must provide well-written, well-researched, relevant content. Fantastic content gives peers and potential customers a reason to link to your site. Content that will likely go viral (marketers calls that “link bait”) has the potential to gain hundreds or even thousands of links without much more effort from you.
Gain Links from Trusted Professionals in Your Industry
What search terms do you want to rank highly for? Type those keywords into Google, and see which sites come up on the first page. If those sites aren’t direct competitors to your business, you may want to reach out to them for a link exchange. Email them, or if they’re local, visit them in person to make a connection. You could also offer to write a guest blog post for their site, which would provide them free, well-written content while also creating a quality link back to your site.
Not All Links Are Equal
Inbound links from trusted websites (think of websites that end in .gov, .edu, or .org) are very influential in search algorithms. Focus your efforts on several credible, relevant sites and reach out to people to gain links. Sponsor a local charity, publish content on a university’s website, post in forums, or (when it’s relevant to your business) interview or write a post about local politicians. Likewise, links from high-traffic websites (think Huffington Post or CNN) are much more weighty in algorithms than links from your cousin’s personal blog.
Social media provides a great space to share your content and encourage other people to share your content, but these links aren’t weighted as heavily in search algorithms as other links. Use social media to share content that has the potential to go viral.
Don’t Pay for Links
Have you encountered a website or SEO service that wants you to pay for links? If so, get far, far away from them. Paying for links from a “link farm” is a no-no, and if Google finds out, your site could be penalized. These highly linked websites are oftentimes seen as “spammy,” which means Google could also recognize your site as spam.
Is Your Link Campaign Working?
Creating a strong link building campaign isn’t easy, and it won’t happen overnight. The ROI on your link building campaign can be difficult to measure directly. Pay attention to your analytics to see if your organic search traffic is increasing. You can also see if anyone is linking to your content, and see which inbound links bring you the most traffic. Be flexible, be creative, and brainstorm new ways to gain links from quality websites that you trust.
Need help with link building? Give us a ring.