Creating Link Worthy Content and Marketing
When it comes to attaining high ranking in SERPs, the key comes down to links.
Links are especially important as they assist with navigation, and make websites easier to be crawled by the search engines. Even the body of copy surrounding a link can assist or inhibit SEO ranking. They also serve to turn off spammers so as to boost trust.
All SEO practitioners NEED to master the practice of link building, the process of attaining back-links from other websites via marketing. Building links is fundamental to effective SEO and cannot be ignored as it nets your brand much needed visibility. Like all SEO processes, it is ongoing and is never completed.
So How Do Links Influence SERPs?
Every link attained from an external resource is an open endorsement, it sends a signal to the crawlers to the value of your website and will improve ranking.
Figure 7.0 from seochat.com visually conveys the relationship of external links and crawlers. The more links you can attain, the easier it will be for your site to be crawled.
Anchor text is the clickable part of a hyperlink that appear in bodies of copy. When it comes to employing them effectively, it is important that the text matches the content it connects too. For example if you clicked on a piece of anchor text titled shirts and it took you to a page about skirts, then the link is poor quality and often a sign of spam.
It is also possible to link to a page search engines have trouble reading (even if it is relevant). This can be because the site is image heavy and not optimised for SEO. In this event anchor text becomes even more important.
When it comes to linking, best practice is to connect to pages of relevant topics. If it means having to double check every link on your website, then so be it.
Not all links are equal in terms of weight. A link from a reputable resource will outweigh that from a little known blog. Getting links from an authoritative source is not as easy as it sounds as the practice varies depending on your industry. Search engines have their own ways for determining authority and that is what makes this practice tricky.
Fortunately we have some theories.
- Links from sites/pages with high rankings could be an indicator of authority.
- Well-known brands may improve visibility in SERPs.
- Sites with good reviews possibly provide extra weight to their links.
- Brands endorsed by famous individuals may also be a sign of credibility.
Trust and authority are not the same thing. A trustworthy site is unlikely to send spam or conduct nefarious internet activities, that alone does not guarantee the staff will deliver the best results.
Nothing conveys trust online better than reviews from outside sources. By investigating the pages that link to and from a site, a user can get a rough estimate on trustworthiness. Even so, accurately measuring trust can be accomplished with the Moz tool MozTrust.
A link that connects from one page of your website to another will not boost your rank much (if at all). Self-provided endorsements do not provide any weight. However internal linking is essential for website navigation, if employed correctly.
Back-links from completely independent websites have far greater endorsement power. If you own multiple websites, attempting to be sneaky by linking between them will not net you much of a rank boost. This is because they might be under the same domain or possess similarities in WhoIs records. Search engines may perceive these links as internal links and so you will not net any ranking boosts. Even if your WhoIs data between sites is different, the linking pattern can be uncovered by the crawlers.
It is possible to successfully link between a website cluster, but there is little to no SEO bonus to be gained from the practice.
Getting links from as many third party websites is always a good thing, but as was already stated, not all links are made equal.
Having ten links from ten different domains is better than having ten from one. Imagine websites were people, ten links from ten different domains means ten unique people approve of your content. Ten from one could be the same person endorsing you ten times. The former implies a greater level of quality to the search engines, while the latter, could signify link selling (a big SEO no-no).
Having multiple links from the same domain, does not necessarily make one guilty of nefarious practices. Unfortunately it is possible that multiple links from the same source may carry the power of only one.
It is important to consider the uniqueness of the domains where your links and back-links come from. Always strive to expand the flavours of your resource pool.
Diversity in your links is also an important component. Unlike having links from different domains, sources refer chiefly to the pages you link to, to validate your content. Say you wrote an article and all the pages you linked too produced relevant, high quality content, then the diversity of your article would be good.
Search engines favour diversity in their processes. This is because the providers are constantly striving to optimise search algorithms to provide higher value results for users. Sites that get their information from the same sources repeatedly will be marked as lower quality.
The search engines like to keep data on links and can analyse them in many ways:
- Link lifespan – A link with a short lifespan may send a poor quality signal to search engines.
- How quickly was the link(s) added? – Did your link base grow naturally, a link here, a link there? Or did they skyrocket 10 to 10,000 in a day? The latter could be a sign of immoral activity.
There are a number of methods search engines employ, to determine the relevance and context of a web page.
- Nearby links – Do the links of a page point to high quality relevant websites? Doing so will make your website high quality by association.
- Page placements – Do you place your links in the body of your content or are they all at the bottom of the page?
- Overall page and site context – Does the page/website have relevant content, headings, anchor text? All this may improve your SEO.
Top Level Domains such as .edu or .gov do not provide any SEO boosts, although they may possess higher level authority and trust. TLDs are vulnerable to spam just like any other website and because they are often quite large, it is not unheard of for individual pages to be attacked whilst the majority of the site remains spam free.
Every site and all the pages contained therein are assessed on the links it contains. The more high quality links it possess, the better, a TLD is irrelevant.
Determining a Links Value
At the beginning of a link building campaign, web developers and SEOs need to assess the best sites in their industry and arrange them on the likelihood of earning back-links.
It is difficult to assess these factors for certain, but there are a few components you can consider when evaluating a page.
- What is the sites authority? Having a high page rank does not make one authoritative, but it does send quality and authority signals to traffic.
- What is the Page Rank of the home page?
- Number of outbound links on a page: other foreign sites that link to the same pages you do, also receive a ranking boost.
The majority of businesses on the outset of a link building campaign have thousands of leads to sort through. With planning, you can better organise priorities and fast track successful results.
Users who decided to cheat to get ahead in their link building games will be punished by the search engines. There are a wide variety of bad linking strategies and they include:
- Influx of links – A website that receives a thousand links in a day will be scrutinised by the search engines, unless they gain a thousand links every day for the rest of its lifespan.
- Buying and selling links – This is a common spamming activity and search engines know how to recognise the perpetrators.
- Penalised websites – Back-links from websites that are of low trust score or websites that have been penalised by Google.
- Artificial Links – Links that do not flow with the copy or look unnatural. This also includes overuse of the same link anchor text on a page.
- Links that connect to wrong content – If you saw a piece of link anchor text titled Chocolate Cookie Recipe then you would expect to be linked to a page about how to make Chocolate Cookies. If you were instead connected to a page about cars then something shady is up. This also includes links to pages that are no longer active, 404 errors and broken links.
- Wrong language – If a page written in English has a majority of back-links from non-speaking nations then it is likely an indicator of malfeasance.
Why Do We Even Use Links?
The obvious reason is that it boosts SEO, but there are other reasons why people link.
- Triggers a positive emotional response – If your content is funny, evocative, engaging etc. If it is especially good, an influencer in your industry somewhere may make a link to it so their viewers might see it too.
- A publisher perceived your page as a valuable source for their content.
- Bought, traded links – This is a common practice but not especially favoured by search engines.
- Assists with site navigation.
How do you get Links?
Getting links is one thing, getting the right ones, quite another.
- Link baiting – This is achieved by composing content that generates positive emotional responses in viewers.
- Be high quality – If your content is high quality, then influencers in your industry will perceive you as an authority and link to you.
Link Building Strategies
There are many link building techniques that can be utilised, they include but are not limited to:
- Content to attract links – Utilising high quality content, to establish authority and attract links.
- Marketing content to acquire links – Writing high quality content and promoting it via social media and other channels.
- Direct link request – Asking authority sites for a link. What have you got to lose?
- The Moving Man Method – See Chapter 11
- Add 4-5 more from type of back-links
- Guestographics – Combining infographics with a guest blogging strategy can net you some high quality back-links.
- Good Reviews – By giving glowing testimonials to brands you trust you might just earn a link in return.
- Case Studies – By sharing case studies you are validating your content with hard core evidence.
- Reach out to influencers – If you have written a valuable piece of content then it might be worth contacting fellows in your industry about it and asking for a link.
Choosing the Right Link Building Strategy
There are many ways one can develop a link building strategy, and a mistake in the formula can lead to a terrible ROI. Because the process is ongoing, figuring out the long term value is crucial.
Outline of a Link Building Process
Because there are so many choices available in the link campaign process, developing the perfect strategy can be a headache. But there is an easier way.
Which Websites are most likely to Link to you?
At the start of the process you need to determine the types of sites that will most likely link to you, consider these for inspiration.
- Education sites like schools and universities
- Non-competitors in your industry
- Social Media
When considering a site, ask yourself ‘why would this site link to us?’, if you cannot come up with an appropriate response then it is not worthy of your linkage.
Where do your Competitors get their Links?
There is nothing wrong with learning the tricks and strategies your rivals utilise to get ahead. Thanks to analytics tools such as Majestic SEO and Open Site Explorer, finding out how your competitors get their links is easy. This is because what works for them is likely to also work for you.
Once you have the data, it is simply a matter of analysing their strongest links and pinpointing them with your own link strategies. Because of all the intelligence gathered in the reports, you should be well equipped to target them.
For example, if they achieved a high volume of back-links for an article on a particular topic, you can match them with a similar yet unique piece of content.
Having the goal in view is essential for a perfect link building campaign. The trick to success is being aggressive, remember to snag all the links you can as fast as you can. Every link gained by a competitor is a link lost.
Conduct Strategy Reviews
Link building is a fluid avenue subject to change in a heartbeat. A good approach will always possess evolution potential.
As the process expands, as members of the team learn, knowledge is fostered and room should be made for any new and exciting strategies.
Good Link Sources
There are many reputable sources online which can benefit your link building campaign and they include but are not limited too.
- Websites in your industry – gaining links from these sources is priority one.
- Educational Institutions
- Online newspaper
- Old, reputable websites
- Social Media
- Chambers of Commerce
- Industry Associations
This has already been said but it needs to be repeated. Link building campaigns are an ongoing process that should operate throughout the entirety of a business’s lifespan.
Because the search engines favour sites that net high volumes of high quality links, having a strong strategy for attaining them is vital to the success of an SEO campaign. SEOs need to focus their strengths on back-links from relevant, authoritative sources in their own niche above any other. This may require a substantial amount of outreach for success.
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