The days of using keywords in your content to get a high website ranking are long gone. Due to ‘keyword stuffing’, a new way to determine which sites should rank the highest on the search engines needed to be developed. In 1996, Google search engine came around and its core was built on links, or more specifically, trading links as a vote of confidence.

See, when someone links back to your website, Google considers that a vote of confidence. One website is vouching for another and it is a signal of authority and relevance. These links can also send traffic from one website to another, which is called referral traffic. Link building, though, is more concerned with Google Search than referral traffic, since Google Search directs most of the web’s traffic. Referral traffic is wonderful, but it comes in second to Google, which provides a splendid opportunity for websites to increase their online visibility.

Simply put, the more links a website has, the more influential Google considers that website. And, the more influential Google considers a website, the more important their own links are. Remember, Google considers each link to your website a vote of confidence. Therefore, the more ‘votes’ your website has from other websites, the more your own website’s ‘votes’ matter. That being said, the kind of website linking to yours should be one that has a lot of ‘votes’, itself.

Google, who started off with the PageRank algorithm, now uses over 200 different signals of varying strength to determine the quality and relevance of websites. And, though they don’t tell us exactly what those signals are, we do know that despite how often Google’s search engine algorithms are updated or changed, their core remains the same. Links are still the backbone of Google search.

Google’s search algorithm is what automatically returns results when you search and one of the biggest ways Google has improved is through algorithmic updates. Google’s major algorithm that deals with links is nicknamed Penguin. Penguin came out in April 20112, and its goal is to differentiate between natural links, artificial links, and manipulative links and then de-rank sites with spammy, manipulative link profiles, thus decreasing their visibility.

What Is A Link?

A link, also known as a hyperlink, is a clickable item (image or text) on a website, that leads from one website to another. Links are classified by whether they lead to another website or simply another location on the same website.

There are three types of links:

  1. Internal Links – These are links between the pages of your own website.
  2. Inbound Links – These are links that come from another website, or domain name.
  3. Outbound Links – These are links on your website that lead to another website or domain name.

All of these are important, but for SEO purposes, inbound links are the most important. Unfortunately, they are also the hardest to obtain.

Practice Responsible Link-Building

Link Building is paramount to SEO success, but you can’t build just any link. Link builders should make it a point to include links within their content that flows naturally. Natural anchor text (the clickable text of a link) is of great importance with your inbound links, as well. One of the best ways to do this is for link builders to simply build links that make sense for people instead of strictly for search engines. A link that points to, from, or between pages within your site should be a link that you’d be proud to show your friends, family, co-workers, clients, and even Google. Build links within the Google Webmaster Guidelines and you’ll avoid link schemes and add value to the web.

Obtaining good inbound links isn’t easy. Websites who are worth approaching for links understand what that means and what their ‘vote’ is worth. They know that any link they provide is powerful and valuable, likely to have a great impact on whatever site they link to, so they will not provide a link without just cause or reason. Because it doesn’t take thousands of links for a page to rank anymore, a single link from a high-ranking website plays a pivotal role in a website’s search engine ranking. This gives a high-ranking website an enormous amount of power within their industries. So, unless you can find some leverage or incentive, you will be reduced to asking for a link for free.

That being said, it is never OK to resort to shady link-building methods simply because link building is hard. One of the reasons inbound links from high-ranking websites are so hard to get is because of all the Spam requests and comments they have to sift through every day. And forget buying links on thousands of irrelevant websites thinking it is an easy way out. Proper link building that will stand the test of time requires work.

Now, just because a site has low page rank does not mean that they don’t have great content, a great community, niche authority, or the relevancy needed to include in your link building campaign. If you don’t have an angle to obtain links from sites with high page rank & domain authority, these lower ranked pages can be a great place to start. Keep in mind that even the highest ranking sites today had to start somewhere and that lower ranked site linking to you right now may be one of the big dogs tomorrow.

Getting started as a link builder can be overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Remember that link building is not the only type of marketing you need, but one piece of a long-term, integrated marketing plan. Use common sense, avoid anything having to do with Spam, and build links for people instead of solely for the purpose of Google rank.

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