A major ranking factor in Google’s algorithm is link popularity. The search engines assess the quality and quantity of links pointing to your website pages and factor that in when assessing the value of your website and where it should be ranked.
“When Google was founded, one key innovation was PageRank, a technology that determined the “importance” of a webpage by looking at what other pages link to it, as well as other data. Today we use more than 200 signals, including PageRank, to order websites…” http://www.google.com/about/corporate/company/tech.html
Links to your website are beneficial because they:
- Drive traffic
- Increase link popularity, improve Google Page Rank & search engine ranking
However, efforts towards link building should be well thought out, well executed, and legitimate. A badly executed link building campaign will not only be a waste of time and effort, but could also risk your website being penalized by the search engines.
Some points to remember when building links to your website:
1. Build them up slowly and naturally, if you build up too many too quickly it can look suspicious and raise a red flag with the search engines.
2. Check out Google’s guidelines for webmasters on linking & potential penalties. “…some SEOs and webmasters engage in the practice of buying and selling links that pass PageRank, disregarding the quality of the links, the sources, and the long-term impact it will have on their sites. Buying or selling links that pass PageRank is in violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results.”
- Link schemes – http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66356
- Paid links – http://www.google.com/support/webmasters/bin/answer.py?answer=66736
3. It’s the quality, not the quantity that counts. The best links are ones from high quality, high PageRank sites with related content. It’s better to have one good link, from a related high PageRank page, than many inconsequential ones.
4. Links from .GOV and .EDU sites are very valuable, however they are not easy to get. .GOV & .EDU sites have always been considered authoritative, and so are highly ranked by the search engines. In turn links from these sites pass on that authority.
5. It’s good to have your target terms in the anchor text for the links (the words that are linking to your site), however overuse and repetitive use of the exact same terms may raise suspicion.
6. If you buy links, it should be transparent that they are paid links (paid advertising).
7. One of the best ways to acquire links is to create great content. Blog’s are a good platform for this, since you can create short, pithy posts on topics you think will interest people.
Regardless of what type of search marketing you are doing (organic, paid, local, or social) Google is always looking for the same things when reviewing a company’s website and online activities:
- Is it good for the user?
- Is it transparent?
- Is it credible?
- Is it authoritative?
The best results will be achieved by consistent and persistent efforts over time, with a primary goal of improving the user experience.
As with climbing a mountain, with link building, and other search marketing activities, it takes time and effort to get results, but as with mountain climbing, if you make a mistake it’s shocking how fast and how far you can fall.
How’s your link building going? Are you actively working on it? Have you gained links by creating great content? I’d love to hear your experiences.