Link Building Strategies | 8 Principles of Linking Strategy
Link Building is an important part of website marketing – in fact, perhaps THE most important.
The number of links to your site, called link popularity, is used by most search engines, including Google and Bing to rate the importance of your website, and thereby decide where to rank your website. It is therefore important to be sure that you are getting the best possible link building solutions for your website. There are a number of other things that can and should be done to improve your search engine rankings, but link building remains the most important, and probably will be for a long time to come.
In order to maximize your effort and get the best possible results, this list of link building principles should help you understand what needs to be done, before you start looking for places to submit links. Have a look at our “12 Good Ideas for Link Building” for help on where to find links.
8 Principles of Link Building
What not to do!
Link building is an area that does require a certain level of knowledge and expertise. Firstly, beware of buying links. Some less reputable companies will sell you substantial numbers of links that belong to websites owned by them or affiliate companies. Search engines will monitor links, and websites that suddenly have thousands of new links added may well find themselves penalized and in a worse situation than before starting their link building programme. Assuming these links are somehow sneaked past the search engines, they will generate some influence on your Search Engine rankings, but when you stop paying these links are suddenly removed, and overnight, your site is back to square one – we’ve seen sites where the links have gone from thousands to less than a hundred in a matter of days, and the sites have been penalized - there is nothing more obvious than the appearance or disappearance of thousands of links! Search engines are serious about providing high quality, ethical results to their clients, and actively discredit any activities that attempt to manipulate their systems - a classic example is the insurance comparison site Go Compare who dropped from Number One in Google to page seven overnight! Ethical link building is an ongoing process that gathers momentum as it progresses, and cannot be achieved instantly.
Choose your link text carefully
Anchor text is the actual word(s) used to link to your site. If a visitor clicks on the text it takes them to your page. Choosing the right anchor text is easily the most important part of your link building strategy. Spend time making sure you are using keywords that you want to be ranked for. This is probably the most important part of your link building strategy, and will have a big impact on the success (or not) of your overall campaign. It is always a good idea to vary your anchor text. Don’t use the same key word or key phrase for all your links. Search engines will spot this repetition and could penalize you for it.
Study the opposition
Who are they (be realistic when going through this process)? Have a look at their websites, and see where their links come from. There may well be sites you can apply to for links, and there will certainly be ideas of other sites to investigate for possible links.
What have you got to offer
While you need links to your site, never overlook that sites linking to yours will need something worth linking to. Have a good, hard look at your site and its content and ask yourself “Would I link to this site?”
Any changes and improvements will not only improve your “linkability”, but also the overall appeal of your site to visitors. Include helpful information that other sites would want to link to. Things such as “Handy Hints”, relevant industry related information, calculators etc – anything that might make your site useful to other sites.
Reciprocal links are basically link exchanges, and if you are inundated with request for reciprocal links, then you should be flattered - yours is a site others want to be associated with. However, in order to keep it that way you should be very discerning about who you do link to. Reciprocal linking can be complicated. If your site has a good page rank, and you have reciprocal links with a handful of carefully selected sites that also have a good page rank, then you will all benefit. When you have a reciprocal link to a site with pages of reciprocal links, and not much page rank, then your site will not benefit, and in fact having these links can reduce the value of your own page rank. The value of reciprocal linking can be difficult to judge, and our advice would be - if in doubt, don’t link.
Consider Deep Linking
We often don’t think any further than links to our home page, and we really should. Deep linking to other pages within your website can produce excellent results, and allow you to really focus your links on the pages you want to get noticed. Also, links to a variety of pages within your site gives a natural and well-distributed look to your linking, and makes your site more attractive, and more credible to the search engines.
You must also bear this in mind though when you come to modify your site or redesign the whole site at a later stage. We have seen clients effectively throw away months of work linking to internal pages by not including the same page in the website redesign!
Track your links
As far as possible, keep track of where you have applied for links. Keep track of which sites actually do link to you. It is important to know that your link building is working. Keeping track of your links and your rankings will give you a clear idea of what progress is being made. There is software than can be bought for this purpose, or if an SEO company is doing link building for you, they should be able to provide this information. Otherwise simply check the search engines.
Remember, it does get easier
As your site gets older and accumulates links, it will obviously become easier to attract more and better links. Link building is ongoing, and should be viewed as a regular part of your general website maintenance rather than a one off flurry of activity. There are software packages that automate the linking process, but if you do use them, use them sparingly as they can produce exactly the results that search engines will penalize you for. Link building is a slog, and there is no easy magical way of making it happen. As tedious as it can be, manually creating the links is still the best way to approach link building.
Link building is an important part of SEO, and you may want to employ an SEO company to do it for you. If you do, remember to check their credentials. If they’re not getting rankings for their own site then can they do it for your site? MfP Website Marketing are happy to discuss your link building needs, and even if you choose to do your own link building feel we can offer some solid advice. We are a fully UK company - human, friendly, and English-speaking.