Links in Search Engines Optimisation (SEO)

link-building-seoBefore Google all you have to do to get your company’s web site listed was to submit your web site and wait to be included to the index. Everything changed in 1998, when Google dominated the search market. Google decided to use the links pointing to a web site as another factor in determining if the site was a good match for search, since each link to a site was considered as a vote.

To rank well today, you need to use links to vote the site up in the search engines. Links pointing to a Web page do several things:

Links make it easier for search engines to find the page: The way Google discovers new web sites on the web is by following the links from one web site to the other. Search bots are charged with traveling around the web and following links. Once they find a page they follow all the links to other pages, and so on. The more links are pointing to a page, the easier it is for the search bots to discover this page.

Search engines use the number of external links pointing to a web site to determine how respected it is on the web: The more links from well-respected web site’s are pointing to other web sites or pages, the more likely it is for these web sites or pages to rank high in the SERPs, as Google uses links as a way to decide how trust-worthy a web site is and display it on the search engines results page.

Links help search engines understand what the page is about: Both internal and external links help search engines understand what the page on a web site is about based on the content of the page that the external link or internal link is placed on and the anchor text used to link to the other page. All this information is also used when Google and other major search engines are trying to rank a page for a specific query in the search result’s page.

Links bring people to the page: Before Google decided to use links as a way of valuing web sites, web masters tried to get links from other web sites in order to increase their traffic. Even though today links are very important for SEO, when getting links from other web sites, try to place them on pages that have relatively high traffic levels. Also, the more popular the web sites that you get the links from the more traffic they will bring to your web site.

The difference between “link popularity” & “link analysis”

Link popularity is simply the number of links pointing to a web site, while “link analysis” refers more to the quality of links pointing to a web site. A web site might have thousands of backlinks but this is not as important as having links from authoritative web sites. Search engines (and particularly Google) pay great importance to links coming from well-trusted web sites that are also focused on the same topic as your web site.

The difference between quality links & link farms

When link became so important for achieving good ranking, many black hat SEOs began building link farms, which are sites that are nothing more than pages full of links designed to get high search engine rankings. However, it did not take much for search engines to understand this optimization trick and change their ranking criteria by which links are ranked. Now link farms are considered fairly ineffective, but links pointing to your web site are still very important since they show interactivity with the community and are a way for everyone to measure how important your web site is.

Google penalises for paid links

Some people think that Google does not penalize for paid links. According to Matt Cutts blog, Google has a way to report paid links. There is also a special form to do that

How to report paid links

It appears that Google is excited to try new algorithms to improve its current algorithms and that is also looking for new ways to facilitate spam report and for this reason Google has created a paid link form here.

How to build links naturally

To be of value, your web site must have other web sites with relevant content and good page rank to point either to the home page or deep link to other pages of the web site. Having broken links in your web site is also not good and it can lower your search engine rankings.

Links have always been an important factor in how search engines value and rank a web site in their search results’ page but this factor became extremely important when Google started dominating the search market a few years ago.

Here are the most important factors that any home improvement professional should consider when building backlinks to his business web site:

Have varied anchor text: The anchor text should always include a few variations of the targeted keywords but it is also important to vary it because by using always the same link text might result into Google treating the links as manipulative, which might even result to an algorithmic penalty. The graph bellow displays how natural anchor text should look like.

anchor-text-diagram

source: poweredbysearch.com

Come from related pages: The link should come from pages with relevant content. This is very important and increases page rank. There are many other factors to consider such as traffic rank, keyword density, anchor text, number of internal and external links and of course language.

Come from different places: In addition, the links should come from different parts of the pages of the web sites linking to yours. For example, having all the links coming from the footer of a web site it is not considered a good practice. Instead of that  the links should be placed in the header, body, footer, left navigation, links page, resources page etc

Come from different places: In addition, the links should come from different parts of the pages of the web sites linking to yours. For example, having all the links coming from the footer of a web site it is not considered a good practice. Instead of that you can have the link in the header, body, footer, left navigation, link page etc.

Not come from a bad neighbourhood: Links from adult, pharmacy and poker web sites are not considered a good option and Google frowns upon them.

Come from different C-class IPs: This factor is also important since Google can see the C class IP Hosting of the web sites that are linking back to your web site.

Come from both old trusted and new sites: It is good to have links from both old but also new web sites with quality content.

Come from non-reciprocal linking: Reciprocal links are not very bad but having the majority of backlinks from reciprocal links it is not considered a good practice.

Come from non-directories: Getting a huge number of back links from poor quality directories is not considered a good practice and it might also damage you link profile. There are only a few selected directories such as ODP and Yahoo that carry trust in the eyes of Google. There are also high-quality niche curated directories that you can pursue links from but you will have to research and evaluate them carefully before you decide to list your web site. In general, treat links from directories should be considered like something extra to the overall number of links.

Not be temporary: The age of your backlinks is important. It has even been speculated that this is a factor of the Google Sandbox filter.

Not have paid linking footprints around them: Words such as sponsored, paid, advertisement and the like are spotted by Google and are devalued. If the majority of your backlinks come from such links, it is possible that you might even do damage to your site’s rankings.

Come from pages with the same language: This is very obvious. It is very important to get links from web sites that use the same language as yours. A certain number of links from web sites with different language do not hurt, provided that they come from web site’s in the same niche or from pages that contain links to pages or web sites on the same topic as the web site’s theme or page’s theme.

Useful resources:

Page rank explained correctly with examples

How search engines might judge the value of a link

Data driven guide to anchor text 

SEO street smarts – Don’t get lost in a bad neighborhood

Wisdom & folly of directory link building

How to conduct link analysis