This week we’re talking about links and why they’re so important to SEO. Yes, it might be a dry subject BUT it’s a critical part of organic internet marketing and why website rank in the search engines. Stick with me it’ll be worth it.
Introduction and a little history
For those that are not intimate with the history of Google, the original algorithm that founder Larry Page developed was based on cataloging links on the internet. Not links going out from websites but links pointing to websites. He called the concept Page Rank and it formed the basis of what became the mega-intelligence behind Google.
The idea came from the concept of citation analysis which is essentially the study of citations in scholarly works. The core idea is that the more citations a work has, the more important it is. This concept applied to links on the internet is what made Google eventually become the most trusted, useful and dominant search engine on the web. Eventually eclipsing all of the competition and becoming one of the largest businesses in the world and making Larry and Serge Brin two of the richest people in the world.
Why you should care about links to your website
So why should you care? Because links are important when talking about ranking in the search engines. Very important. Let me stress that it’s not all about links but hopefully it’s clear that the more links that you have pointing to your website (from reputable, related and quality sites) the better. It is a critical reason why some sites rank higher in search results and why others don’t.
In simplest terms, a link to your website from another website is like a vote. They’re saying “hey, this is something of value”. The more votes you have from other reputable websites, the more Google will feel “ok” about returning your website for relevant searches.
For years SEO companies have been trying to “game” the system by providing “link building” services where they actively try to add links (or even purchase links) on other sites that point back to their clients websites. Google does not like to be “gamed” though and it’s becoming very hard to build links — and that’s they way Google likes it. It HAS to be hard otherwise they can’t be confident that their results are valuable and useful. Simply adding your site to directory sites or doing link exchanges where your link is one of 100 other site links on a page is no longer valuable and a waste of time and resources.
So what links are good and how do you get them?
The ideal links are:
- From a reputable website
- From a website or page that is related to the subject matter of your website
- Placed on the page within the actual content
- One of only a few external links on the page
- Linked to your website using keywords related to your website’s subject
These is the recipe for valuable links that influence your rankings and they’re hard to get. Not to say that these are the only links of value but they’re ideal.
How to build links – link building in today and beyond
This is the secret. It’s simple, yet extremely hard. Ready for the secret sauce? You have to build highly valuable, relevant and useful content that people want to share. No longer can you actively “build links” in volume without this crucial step. Sure you can actively pursue PR activities, create content on other websites and work your relationships but the quality and volume of links will come from creating TONS of great content and (ideally) never stopping.
What is great content?
There is no formula and I think it’s different for everyone. It could be anything from a well written article or blog post to an infographic or even an application or service on your website. (Yes, my link to this website is valuable to them.)
The most important thing is that it’s valuable to people. So valuable that they feel compelled to share it by linking to it in some way. That might be within a related article on their website, a link on Twitter or even a mention in the press that compels others to take interest and link from their websites.
Not the news you wanted to hear? I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news but the days of manipulating search results are over. The time is now to do things right and that takes work, creativity, knowledge and time.
If you can go forward and create great, useful and valuable content in the form of text, pictures, video or even software there’s a really good chance that it will be the #1 reason why you outrank your competitors online.
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