By now most people are familiar with the concept of search engine optimization, what is is, why it is important and at least a basic understanding of how to make it happen. What is not always as easy to understand, however, is why each of the individual tools used for SEO are important and how they work. One of the primary tools search engines use to determine rankings is links, both external and internal. Here is an overview of link building; how it is used, why it is important and how to make it happen.
- What is it?
Think of link building like building a social network. For instance, if someone were to go to your LInkedIn profile and see that you have a strong connection to several high ranking individuals in a number of Fortune 500 companies, then their impression of you will most likely be significantly higher than if all of your links are to people they have never heard of. This is exactly how search engines work.
Similarly, if you only have 200 or so connections, but they are all to very well-known and powerful people, it carries more weight than if you have 1,000 connections to completely unknown individuals. This is the same with link building. The number of links you have on your site is not nearly as important as the quality of your links. Not only is it important for you to link out to other quality sites, but it is possibly even more important for other quality sites to link to you.
- Why you need sites to link to you
Once again, looking at how social media works provides valuable insight into how search engines work. Every time one website provides a link to another website, it adds value to the website being linked to, not necessarily the one doing the linking. For instance, if you follow a celebrity on Twitter it increases their value by raising the number of followers they have. Following them, however, does nothing to increase your own standing.
On the other hand, if a celebrity follows or retweets one of your Tweets, then it raises your standing. This is also how links work. Linking to high quality sites is great, but it doesn't do much to increase your rankings. If a high quality site like Forbes or The Huffington Post links to your site, however, that can significantly boost your rankings.
- How to build links
At one time, an easy way to get a high quality site to link to yours was simply to trade links. Coders then programmed their algorithms to look for "quid pro quo" links and to actually drop sites in rankings that used this process. Now, the only way to actually gain traction in rankings is for high quality sites to provide organic links to your site.
There are a number of ways to gain these organic links. One is, of course, to provide high quality content that high quality sites want to link to, but another way is to guest blog or guest post on another site. Another great way to get these organic links is to simply reach out to high quality sites and ask for them. However you do it, the point is, you need high quality sites to link to you, not just you to them.
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