Chapter 6: Link building & ranking in search engines

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Link building & ranking in search engines

Here we get into the link-building elements of the SEO Factors. Links were the primary major “off-page” ranking factor employed by search engines. Google wasn’t the primary program to count links as “votes,” but it had been the primary program to rely heavily on link analysis as to how to enhance relevancy when it introduced PageRank (as in Google co-founder Larry Page) in 1998.


Links, alongside content, remain one among the foremost important external signals for Google’s search rankings. That said, much has evolved, including how links are interpreted and treated by search engines.

 

Value

Links are not created equal. After all, the sites that link to you’ll vary in also as relevant to your industry. A link from a news publication with a robust journalistic reputation goes to be more valuable than a link within the comments section of a blog that has nothing to do with your industry.
Links from trusted, websites and sites that are relevant and reputable within your industry are likely to hold more weight.


Sites have long used the nofollow link attribute, first on comments then to flag sponsored or advertising-related links, to stay those links from being counted for rankings. Some publishers went as far as nofollow all outbound links in their content to avoid the looks of being involved in link schemes.


This meant that any nofollow backlinks to your site wouldn’t pass the credit through to your site. Now, though, Google treats the nofollow link attribute as a “hint” for ranking purposes and nofollow links to your pages could also be used for ranking signals.

 

 

Anchors

Anchor text refers to the clickable text utilized in a hyperlink. It will typically be a special color (blue, most commonly) than normal text and underlined. Here’s an example: this anchor text links to the SEO Factors. The words utilized in the anchor test are seen by search engines because of the way an internet site describes the content or site it’s linking to.


“Anchors absolutely impact your SEO,” says Julie Joyce, director of operations for link building agency Link Fish Media. “They tell search engines what the associated link targets are about, but they need definitely been overused and spammed up within the past. They also give context to users, as they ‘should’ tell the user what the target they’re on the brink of click on is about.”

 

[Pro Tip]

“Although this is not always a top consideration (but it should be), anchor text is also used by visually impaired individuals who use screen readers. It’s difficult to balance using anchor text for SEO and for usability. Once SEOs overused exact match anchor text, we all got scared and started using anchors like ‘click here’ which are very bad for usability in some cases. It’s definitely a tricky thing to get right.” -Julie Joyce, director of operations for Link Fish Media

 

Of course, you regularly can’t control the anchor text others use to link to your site. You do, however, get to regulate anchor text on your own internal links. “An optimized internal linking structure is critical to link-building success,” writes Andrew Dennis, content marketing specialist at Page One Power.
Here are some best practices for link anchor text which will provide your visitors with a far better experience.

 

Of course, you regularly can’t control the anchor text others use to link to your site. You do, however, get to regulate anchor text on your own internal links. “An optimized internal linking structure is critical to link-building success,” writes Andrew Dennis, content marketing specialist at Page One Power.
Here are some best practices for link anchor text which will provide your visitors with a far better experience.

Pros

  • Use natural, grammatical language in your anchor text.
  • Use relevant words and terms.
  • Stick to the highlighted, underlined anchor text users are accustomed to.
  • Keep it concise.

Cons

  • Spamming in anchor text.
  • Using unnaturally within anchor text.
  • Generic anchor text (i.e., “Click Here”).
  • Using misleading anchor text to trick users into clicking.

 

Backlinks

Backlinks, also mentioned as inbound links, are links pointing back to your pages from other sites. They send signals to look engines indicating the relevance and of your content.


A lot of links can add up to SEO success. Even more so if you’re getting links from many various sites. All things being equal, 1,000 links from one site will mean far but 1,000 links from 1,000 sites. But what about quantity versus quality?


“It’s said that quality [of backlinks] matters over quantity, which is right. But I even have seen too many cases where sites with more links rank when that’s all they have going for them as compared to the competition,” Julie Joyce, director of operations for Link Fish Media says. “In some cases, you’ll escape with having just a few of backlinks though, especially when it involves smaller industries where the competition isn’t as fierce. Sometimes you lose quality when your goal is more, more, more.”


Avoid comment spamming, link buying, guest posting schemes, and link exchanges. You can expect to be penalized by search engines if you’re caught resorting to those or other so-called “blackhat” tactics. For more on schemes to avoid, head to the Toxins section at the lowest of this page…

[Pro Tip] 

When doing link building outreach, “Be concise. Don’t write emails that are five flowery paragraphs long where you go into great detail about how amazing the site you’re reaching out to is. You do need to research your targets though, as many emails are sent to completely irrelevant sites who will never give you a link, and even if they did, it wouldn’t be a good link for you.” – Julie Joyce


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