While the importance of back-links, as Google sees it, has diminished somewhat in recent years, there’s no doubt back-links are still the most critical aspect of any SEO strategy. Why? Google needs some method of determining which sites are more important than others.
To help make this computation, it looks at the back-links from other sites to your site. Each link counts as a “vote” for your site. But, don’t be fooled, Google is not democratic – each vote/link doesn’t count equally. In the past, when they were more equal (but not exactly equal), people would build links from all sorts of spammy/low-quality websites. He who could put out the most links was the winner.
Over the years, Google has become much, much smarter. So now, it looks at several factors regarding each page and link point to your site, including the following:
- If the site linking to yours is loaded with advertisements and poor-quality content, the link will count for next to nothing. However, if the page from which the link is coming is reputable (PageRank reflects the reputation of a certain page), then the link is worth much more to your site.
- The theme of the site linking to yours. If your site is about car repair, and the link coming to you is at a site about computers, the link counts for a little something. However, if your site is about car repair and the site linking to you is about cars, then the link is worth much more.
- The anchor text on each back link. If the back links coming from outside sites have anchor texts exclusively with your site’s keywords in it, Google will view your site as being “over-optimized,” and your rankings will suffer a little bit. There is disagreement as to how many anchor texts should be exclusively your site’s keywords, but somewhere around 15 to 30% of all links pointing to your site should contain exclusively your keywords.
- The number of links constructed over a period of time. Google likes what it calls “natural link building.” No one knows exactly what that means, but one thing known is that you have to have a consistent number of links built over a period of time. When Google sees the same number of links being built, and then all of a sudden that number skyrockets in a short period of time, your rankings will suffer. Steady, fairly-even growth is the name of the game for Google.
How do You Build Back Links?
There are about as many ways to do this as there are SEO companies doing the job. Believe it or not, many SEO companies break the guidelines you just read! In general, though, this is how you would build back links:
- Contact websites related to, but not competing with yours. Ask them if you can write an article for them, or offer to pay them to post your link. Link exchanging is another tactic, but when you give them a link and they give you one, you are effectively canceling out any rankings boost you could receive.
- Avoid directories. There’s scores of free directories across the internet at which you can post more links to in a very short period of time. However, Google is increasingly disapproving of directories, as they are typically not thematically related to your site and are often spammy or filled with poor content and other poor links. Some directories are still valuable to Google, but you have to maintain a database of them and research them regularly to know their true value. Long-term, most directories don’t provide a ton of link-building value.
- Forums. Forums are absolutely awesome, for three reasons: there are always some thematically related to your website, many of them have great authority with Google already, and you can build a great amount of targeted traffic to your site. Forum posting contributes great value to the back links of any website.
- Free blogging sites/build-a-website domains. Many of these are available, but the link value they provide is questionable. You simply build a one-page website with links to your site. They aren’t thematically-related to your site, but many of these sites do carry a good overall reputation with Google. They can be included in an SEO strategy, but they should be just a small part of the strategy.
- Article directories. Article directories have a good rapport with Google, but Google has decreased their importance in recent times. You can post as many articles as you want for free to many different directories. Including these directories in an SEO strategy is a good idea, but the effectiveness of doing so is lessening.
- Guest blogging. Writing guest blog articles for other sites related to your niche is effective in terms of link-building, gaining new traffic, and building your reputation with different web communities. However, it is very time-consuming.
Pulling it All Together
What an SEO company does is maintain a database of all the different types of websites from which you can receive back links. Their job is to make sure the database makes the most effective usage of Google’s algorithm as it currently stands. As you can imagine, doing so is a full-time job in itself and ideally, would take many people researching links to determine what is most effective.
Devenia’s specialty is back-link building. If you would like to learn how we can help your site grow its search engine rankings, contact us and let us know how we can help.
Dan Stelter is a SEO Writer with special interest and expertise in content development and production.