On November 11th, 2008 wrote on the subject of Organic Search Marketing.

Link Building- What’s the Point?.

All website owners and business owners want their websites to succeed online. Whether it’s an ecommerce site, company site, forum or any other type of website, you want your site to be seen by others, and you want to be seen as an authority within your particular industry.

If you take your website seriously, you’d hire a professional Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) company who dedicate their time to improving the visibility of your website, and all good reputable SEO companies will provide link building within their package… (and if they don’t then I’d stay well away!)

BUT… what exactly is link building- What’s the point?

First we need to understand what a ‘link’ is. Short for hyperlink, a link is navigation to another web page- this can be on the same site or a completely different website. Search engines ‘crawl’ the web based on these links, and more importantly, links from other websites are considered votes or recommendations. The more links your website has from greater authority websites, the more ‘votes’ have been assigned to that page, which search engines take into consideration when ranking your website in their search results.

A web page can have two types of links- inbound and outbound links, inbound being links coming to your page from other websites, outbound going to another webpage on a different website.
Reciprocal links are links from different websites that exchange links for the purposes of creating more inbound links. Search engines can see that the two (or more) websites have linked to each other and give less weight to these links in comparison to one way links.

Inbound links are the focus of a link building campaign, and there are several ways of achieving inbound links. There are also several other factors to consider in inbound link building. For example:

inbound links

•    The topic of the webpage linking to you- If a site linking to you is within the same topic as your site and the page being linked to, the link will have more weight than from a page from an unrelated topic. E.g. ‘dog grooming’ page linking to ‘dog brushes’ on a different site will have a greater weight than a link from a ‘real estate’ page to ‘dog brushes’.

•    The authority of the site linking to you- The authority of the linking website is also important- a link from CNN.com to your website will be far more important than a link from AdamsHomeMadeNews.com as CNN have a higher authority.

•    The location of the link on the page- The location of the link- search engine robots read the code on a webpage from top to bottom. Generally links at the bottom of the html code have less weight than a link in the middle of an article.

•    The text used within the link- (known as ‘anchor text’) The text used in an inbound link- the anchor text helps inform the search engines what the page is about as it crawls your page. So if your webpage is about dog grooming brushes and the anchor text is ‘dog grooming brushes’, this link will have a greater weight than the same link but with less relevant anchor text such as ‘dog stuff’.

•    The text on the page linking to you- (including the text surrounding the link) The text on the page and around the link also helps in the weighting of an inbound link. The text on the page and surrounding the link (i.e. within the same paragraph) should contain the keywords to the pages topic, and if the topic is closely related to yours (as it should be), the search engines can identify this is relevant to your page, thereby increasing the weighting of the link.

… as well as several other factors.

So now you have an idea of some of the factors used in link building, how can this help your business? Well firstly, if you are performing your own link building of your site, taking these considerations onboard can greatly increase the effectiveness of the inbound links you get.

If you’re already hiring a company to do this for you, you can evaluate their efficiency. If you’re currently looking to hire a company to do this, you can find out how much they really know about the topic.
You can also assess the status of your current inbound links. You may find that potential changes could increase the visibility of your website in search results (inbound link statistics are taken into consideration when search engines rank your website in their results), you may also find that changes may need to be made to improve the navigation to your website for human visitors also.

You may want to suggest to other website owners within your industry to link to you (legitimately)- by providing your own linking html code (which of course takes onboard the above considerations), website owners may be more likely to link to you if you’ve made it easier for them by giving them the code to do so.

I believe it is important for any website owner, manager and webmaster for any business to have an understanding of link building, and how it affects your website. For human navigation, inbound links can bring visitors who are already targeted (may have read a review and now want to buy from your online shop, for example) which can maximise the conversion of your website. For search engine rankings, effective link building can have a massive impact in the ranking of your website in the results, thereby having an impact on the number of potential leads coming to your website. It’s a fact- good link building campaigns can make your website stand out from the crowd, and can make your company an industry leader—if done correctly.

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