Ever wondered what to look for when building links? Link building is like one of sacred scrolls of search engine optimization, that (for very good reason) is kept secret. Much like the formula for Pepsi, Coca Cola and other trade secrets that if revealed and exposed to the wrong sources, could spawn unnecessary competition, lack of market share and other undesirables.
Likewise in SEO the top 10 holds this same allure and for that reason the information you typically find on the topic is deliberately sparse. The reason being, link building and link building services are one of the fundamental cornerstones of SEO and arguably represent the 80/20 rule in SEO (that 20% of the SEO is link building that produces 80% of the results).
Links from other websites comprise the crucial building blocks of how search engines view your pages, associate and rank your content as well as determine the assigned category for your website. In the past (with search engines in their first incarnation) meta tags and meta data were enough, but as that method was abused repeatedly, multiple methods are now cross-referenced in consideration to assure that the topical relevance of your content and off-page factors align to ensure a coherent theme. If your pages pass the virtual checklist, then it’s V.I.P status as they advance to the front of the line and make their debut in the top search results.
Staying within the Link Development guidelines
In order to ensure a solid position in contrast to the competition, certain guidelines should be followed to stay within the boundaries of fair play when building links. Advertising and marketing are expected, but creating an all out link barrage without being aware of the consequences is not advised. For example, using run of the mill free directories vs. targeted niche directories that pass link juice can actually hurt your site more than help them. Many (run of the mill) directories are desperate and allow admission to hordes of sites with poor quality that by mere association can smear your future link campaigns (if website authority is the goal).
By using any overly abused or obvious method, you instantly are painting a red flag on your site that can later (under scrutiny from the algorithm) put you in a less than favorable category that could potentially invoke a penalty. So, just like your mother told you, the company you keep is how others judge you, it seems that the programmers and engineers instilled the very sames values in search algorithms. So, it’s better to be safe than sorry when your considering potential websites for link development.
Things to look for when building links:
Domain age – Use Domain Tools, or the Internet Archive to see when the site arrived on the scene. The older the better as trust is typically commensurate with age. Topical relevance is equally important a website outside of your category is another red flag waiting to happen.
Is the page indexed? – Check the Google cache by copying and pasting the full URL after the search command cache:[insert web address with page here]. This lets you know the last time the spiders crawled the page and may be a good indication if the page will be indexed anytime soon (if you did add your link).
Does the page have a no index or no follow? Does the page have a no index or no follow tag in the head of the document. Simple enough to check, just hit Control+U in Mozilla Firefox and look at the robots tag, it should say CONTENT=”INDEX, FOLLOW” or you can look at the robots.txt file by just typing it in at the root of the domain name. http://www.domain.com/robots.txt for example and see if the page in question has been blocked by spiders. The page would have a disallow command next to the page. If you see this, then obviously this would prevent that page or sight from passing any link juice to your pages.
How many outbound links on on the page? – Just like a sinking ship, pages with too many outbound links and not enough inbound links to offset them are hemorrhaging page rank and are therefore not the best candidates for building links.
The worst case scenario would be a page with 50 links, try to find pages with no more than 10-20 to ensure that it is a worthwhile endeavor.
Just like wine links get better with age.
Just like wine, aged links carry more weight and have a gestation period before they are able to pass their full value. With this in mind, understand that your link building efforts may in fact take months before you see a substantial elevation for competitive keywords.
The main thing is to just get started so that you continually have a fresh supply of links to the most important pages, while additional older links gain more trust and pass greater value as a foundation.
Considerations for building links are:
1. Varying your anchor text – This is important because building 1000 links to one page with the same anchor text “is not natural”, meaning highly unlikely. Whereas building 100 links with overlapping use of one or two prominent keywords on the other hand, over the course of a month (while integrating other website promotion tactics to promote natural linking patterns) is within the boundaries.
2. Avoid linking from websites that are connected or hosted on the same server – This whole link scheme unraveled as a result of webmasters purchasing throw away domains, building them up and then pointing the collective sum of links at their rock star domain to give it a boost. This technique was a shady one (naturally inflating the target domain) and search engines wised up to this tactic.
Hence, any links harboring the same IP address, or owned by the same person (which you can see using domain tools) could invoke a penalty which results in a ban of the sites in question (removal from the index) or being sand-boxed in the hundreds vs. the top 10.
IP Diversity is the key to any solid link building strategy. Next in line on a scale of importance would be link frequency and link velocity (the rate in which you build links, or lose them) as covered in the next point.
3. Maintaining a solid momentum for gaining / losing links. – Many battles have been one or lost on the whole top 10 comfort zone (basking in the glory attitude) that many powerhouses are lulled into vs. the I’m hungry for this keyword and I am not stopping until I reach the top (underdog competitor mentality).
Despite page rank, website authority and other factors coming into play, the rate in which one builds links most definitely has an impact on the search algorithm (as it is not always able to distinguish the rate from popularity/demand).
A more popular page (one with traffic and more links) for example, could overthrow a page from a more established website over time. So, don’t get too comfortable resting on your laurels, unless you want to lose your spot to a nameless or openly bold competitor who has figured out your link building strategy and focused on a flaw in your armor.
It is just the nature of the game, some links get dropped or devalued as indexing, algorithms or other factors affect their ability to pass rank. In which case having knowledge of this you should…
4. Use a variety of sources (don’t rely to heavily on one tactic). Predictability or becoming complacent in your methods is a sure sign of decay, not only will predictable patterns make your tactics even less likely to produce consistent results (as algorithms most certainly change).
But, it is always best to have link insurance by using a variety of methods to balance the equation. By simply not putting all of your eggs in one basket, you can take up the slack in one area, if another link building strategy goes to pot without having to start from scratch.
Not to sound cliche, but diversity truly is the key to high rankings. Relying too heavily on one link building tactic insures that if one area loses velocity or is devalued, that at least your pages have the ability to defend themselves in the SERPs or maintain their present course.
This should not preclude you from developing them consistently, it is more about observing the effect that the link building is having when combined with other methods such as social media and traffic barrages from visitors to create the perfect combination of popularity, traffic, links and relevance through consistent new content creation.
5. Think links for search engine traction and go with social media for viral marketing and exposure – Links are still a crucial component to how search engines see your site. Call it contextual reference, tagging by association, the fusion of anchor text, or what have you. Despite our attempts to label or describe the phenomenon, building links is still the cornerstone of securing a high ranking position in search engines, for the keywords above any other method that we know embrace.
As we have all surmised, different types of traffic have different needs. So before you try to create a one size fits all mentality, make sure that your website has all of the fundamental bases covered to serve each of the types of potential visitors, before embarking on bring the crux of the web to bear on your website. Otherwise it’s a sad scene to go through all of that hard work only to see thousands of potential customers bounce back into the SERPs (search engine result pages) looking for a better offer.
Now I guess I better get around to writing the other 550 link development strategies and tips, *as the title was an unfortunate typo, but if I start now maybe I can finish by the end of 2008.