Link Building and Successful SEO
Link-building is a huge part of any successful SEO campaign. It works like this: if a wider variety of sites link to your site, Google rewards your site by placing you higher in search rankings. Especially if these links contain valuable anchor text related to your site. Other search engines operate in a similar fashion, but Google is the biggest player, and so most of my efforts are focused on ranking higher in Google search results pages.
Knowing this, it’s easy to go overboard when building links, and resort to tactics that will end up doing more harm than good, or simply waste your time. Buying links, using Comment Luv and Keyword Luv enabled blogs to build links in blog comments, and placing links in forum signatures are all examples of easy way to build links that do very little to actually improve your rankings. However, this shouldn’t suggest that you stop building links altogether. Instead you should concentrate on building higher quality links.
How Google Calculates Link Value
Building links on high domain authority or page rank sites is key to improving your SERP rankings. However, Google doesn’t just look at the anchor text of a link when calculating how it will affect the rankings of the site it links to. Google takes a number of things into account when calculating link value: topical value of the content surrounding the link, reputation of the site the content is posted on, and the degree of change in links back to your own site. By surrounding a link with relevant keywords and body copy, you’re telling Google that the link is related to those terms. Google uses a value called Page Rank to determine how reputable a site is. The age of a site, the number of inbound versus outbound links, and social media signals such as Facebook Likes and Tweets, are part of Google’s Page Rank calculation. The degree of change in your links is a measure of how quickly links are built. If Google sees a huge increase from one week to the next, this raises a flag that inappropriate link-building techniques may be used.
Context is important for building valuable links. It’s important to build links on sites that are related or similar to your site, both for search engines and human visitors. Your time is better spent building a link on a PR5 site that’s related to your own site than building a link on a higher ranked site that is completely unrelated. The best way to rank better in Google searches is to build links where humans will actually click through to your own site.
Relevant Links Bring Better Traffic
Focusing on building relevant links will also result in more direct traffic. People are more likely to click on a link if it’s placed in a related website, blog post or forum. Your goal isn’t just higher traffic—it’s higher conversions. It doesn’t matter if you consider a version to be a successful sale from your e-commerce store, or a new subscription to your SaaS application, or a new regular reader of your blog. Users who find your site through a link on a related website are far more likelier to convert than users who arrive at your site through a link built in a totally unrelated area. Good SEO is about higher conversions, not just higher traffic, and link placement in valuable forums, blog posts and other areas is the best way to build links that will bring visitors ready to convert.
How to Find Areas for Building Relevant Links
My favorite tool for finding good places to build links is Google Alerts. It’s easy to populate a list of key words and phrases you want to monitor, and set how you want to be notified of relevant posts. You can choose the kind of posts you want to be alerted to, and how often you want to see these alerts. I like to use “discussions” to find relevant forum and blog posts for placing links. Most of the referral traffic I see on my websites comes from relevant links. Finding people who have a problem that one of my company’s products will solve takes more time than simply blasting links all over the internet, but with a focused link-building strategy, we see more interested visitors who are ready to convert.
This guest post was written by Tyler Moore
Tyler Moore works at Expected Behavior, a web development firm based in Indianapolis. Expected Behavior has built a product called DocRaptor, a web application used to generate PDF files from pure HTML. DocRaptor handles CSS styling better than comparable programs, and uses a simple HTTP POST request to convert HTML to PDF.