One of the most challenging tasks in SEO is link building. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most important. When determining the popularity of a web page, search indexes look for backlinks from reputable websites with authority. What does that mean exactly? Backlinks are incoming links to a website from another trusted site. For example, if a major news website picked up a story from a blogger in Schenectady, NY, they would list the blogger’s website address in their article. This would create a backlink back to the blogger’s site, and give it credibly as it was coming from a trusted, reputable site.
By its very definition, it’s easy to see why the art of creating backlinks in SEO is a challenge. How does the search engine determine the validity of the inbound links to your site? How do you get other trusted, reputable sites to link to your site? Is it okay to ask them for links? Can you pay for links?
Let’s start at beginning.
The Very Basics on How Search Indexes Work
The search indexes send out crawlers, known as spiders or bots, that gather information found on a web page. The spiders than send that information back to the search index, and then a complicated & elegant algorithim interprets the information and sends out more spiders to investigate your site.
Here is the part you DO have control over: the content on your site. When the search indexes send out spiders to gather information from your site, you want to be sure that the content is well-written and accurate. This will help develop your authority within the realm of site’s topic. This is known as on-page optimization. See our post on content to learn more about about it.
Getting the Links
Solid, organic link buildnig takes stategy, stamina & patience. It will not happen overnight, and to build the repuation of your site you will need to invest a serious amount of time. There are ways to get started, however you must be careful and selective in how you decide to reach out for links. Bad backlinks can and will damage your site’s reputation, and in the worst case scenario, can get your site banned from the search index results altoghter.
Here are a few ideas on getting started with link building:
- Paid Links: You should proceed with caution, but even Google admits that not all paid links violate their rules.
- Ask for Links: It may sound simple, but it can work. Doing so may result in receiving reciprocal links from a like-minded website. Reciprocal links are not as valuable as backlinks, but they can help.
- Register with Directories: Find a helpful list here
- Write Articles & Press Releases: Well-written articles featured on other sites, or press releases featured on a site’s “In the News” section provide backlinks and can help generate traffic.
- Get Involved: Find a well-trafficked web community related to the content on your site. Participate in forums, leave comments on posts; your forum signature or profile page will most likely allow for your URL to be displayed.
- Social Bookmarking: You will not get credit for links you post to your own articles, however, sharing them on social bookmarking sites like Delicious & StumbleUpon will increase the chance that others will share your links, thus creating valuable backlinks.
When to Say No
The most important thing to keep in mind when developing a plan for link building is the importance of quality over quantity. Obtaining backlinks from sites that have little or no authority will not help your SEO aspirations. In addition, you do not want to garner a large number of backlinks from webites that are not related to your site’s content–doing so will not help build the authority and repuation of your site.