A Guide to Link Building in 2015
What are links and why are they important?
When you’re browsing through the Web and you see a word that is both highlighted and underlined, the chances are you’re looking at a link. Links are how we get from one website to another, and significantly for SEO, Google also measures the number of links each website has in order to gauge that website’s popularity.
In simple terms, the more links a website has directed to it, the more popular Google will judge that website to be, and the higher that site will rank for relevant search terms.
How do you get links from other websites?
You may have just launched your website, or perhaps you’ve had your site running for a few months and you’re still wondering “when are other people going to start linking to my website?!”.
Don’t worry, you’re not alone! Getting your website linked to by other websites isn’t easy – not only do you need to have something of value to offer like quality useful content, but you also have to be good at promoting your website to other website owners, so that they can find your content and link to it.
That brings us to our first method for acquiring links from authoritative, and relevant websites:
This involves reaching out to other website owners and effectively saying “Hey, this is me and this is my website – I’m producing amazing content, would you like to publish some of my work on your site in the future?” (this is often referred to as “guest posting”).
Outreach is all about forging relationships with other webmasters.
When influential websites in your subject area are promoting your website content/ product, your website will gain exposure and naturally gain links! This is because when people read your content, and they enjoy it, they will link to it from their website or from their social media account.
You might be wondering “who should I be reaching out to?”. The answer to this question comes down to how well you know your niche and the other players who exist in your subject area.
Which are the most authoritative websites in your subject area? Who are the most influential people? Which blogs are being read the most and are creating a lot of buzz, conversation and interaction?
If you are not sure, then simply type into Google some of the keywords which you think are most important for your website and look through the results pages. If you’re truly passionate about your subject area (and you need to be!) then you’ll want to know the other people/websites in your space.
2. Creating Web 2.0 Properties
Web 2.0’s are sites that not only contain user generated content, but also allow both content creators and readers/viewers to interact and share ideas. Examples include blogging sites, social networks, wikis, infographic sharing sites, and video sharing sites like Youtube.
Producing content on these sites, like articles and videos, that promote your website and which provide value to other users can help to gain you links back to your main site. You should aim to create content that is truly original, entertaining, and compelling and where appropriate the content you’ve created can also link back to your main site.
3. Social Media
Another type of Web 2.0 is social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. Being active on these platforms, interacting with other like-minded users, and promoting your website is an extremely effective way to generate links to your website. If users like what you say, they’ll share it, and you will end up getting users sharing your content by linking to it from their own websites.
Posting on forums related to your niche is a great way to generate links to your website. Not only will you gain exposure for your website/ brand in a place where your target market congregates, but also gain referral traffic, and those users that enjoy your content can in turn link back to you from their website or other online properties.
An easy way to find forums that are related to your niche is to use the following formula: “forums” + “niche keyword”. So if for example your niche was SEO, your search would generate the following results:
Not all links are equal
The most important consideration when building links to your website, is the quality of the links that are being directed to your website, not the number of links. Links that come from trusted, high traffic, and highly authoritative websites are far more valuable than links from new websites that have not gained a high level of popularity.
How to Assess the Value of a Webpage?
Since we know links from some webpages are more valuable than links from other webpages, how do we assess which pages are more valuable to us than others?
Google will measure the value of a given webpage based on a number of factors. The higher the value of that page, the more of a positive impact a backlink from that page will have on our SEO rankings.
Below are some of the most important qualities that we should take into account when looking for webpages to gain backlinks from:
1. PageRank (PR)
This ranking system was created directly by Google, and is a measure of the quality of a webpage’s overall link profile, and the relative importance of that webpage. Every web page has a PageRank score of between 0 and 10 (10 being the best). The pages of websites like Twitter, and USA.gov have a PageRank of 10, while brand new websites without any backlinks will have a PageRank of 0.
Ideally, when selecting webpages to gain backlinks from, we want to find pages that have a PageRank of at least 3 or 4, and if possible 6 or 7.
How to Find Out a Page’s PageRank
There are a variety of tools available to help you find out the PageRank of any page online:
SEO Book’s free tool bar http://tools.seobook.com/seo-toolbar/ will instantly give you the PageRank of any page you are viewing (although stats can be as much as 3 months old).
Or you can simply use http://www.prchecker.info/
2. Number of Backlinks & Referring Domains
The total number of links pointing at a page will contribute towards the value of that page. Although quality is more important, the quantity of backlinks a page has is still a significant ranking factor.
For this reason it is always best to seek out pages that have a higher number of inbound links.
Similarly, it is beneficial to seek out pages that have a high number of domains linking to them. Since a page can have more than one backlink from each domain, it’s useful to know how many separate domains are linking to a page.
You can analyse the number of backlinks and root domains a page has by using free tools such as Moz’s Open Site Explorer (OSE) https://moz.com/researchtools/ose/.
There are also a number of different paid tools that can give you this information about a page, from Majestic SEO to A Hrefs:
3. Domain Authority & Page Authority
This is SEOMoz’s own custom metric that takes into account all other ranking factors and culminates them into one easy to understand score. The score is from 0 to 100 (with 100 being the highest).
Generally it is more beneficial to gain links from pages that have a high Page Authority, as they are more likely to pass on a high PageRank than pages which have a lower Page Authority.
You can check a page’s Domain and Page Authority using Moz’s Open Site Explorer:
4. Trust Flow
Trust Flow is a measurement of how trustworthy a particular page is, based on how trustworthy the pages are that are linking to it. Every page is given a score between 0 and 100 (100 being the most trustworthy).
This is a good example of why it is beneficial to have links from high quality, reputable websites, as having many links from poor quality sites will likely give you a poor Trust Flow rating. Generally websites that have a lot of links from .edu and .gov sites have the highest Trust Flow ratings.
Trust flow is a metric used by the SEO tool Majestic (while Moz use their own MozTrust metric):
Majestic also gives a separate Topical Trust Flow for each of the sectors most relevant to the site.
Link Building Strategy Summary
Even with the best quality content online, without consistent promotion your site and the contentment within it may never be found. The main online properties to promote your site and gain links are other blogs, web 2.0s, social media sites, and forums. And of course, as not all links are equal, it is advisable to find the sites which have the highest page rank, page authority, number of backlinks, and trust flow. Persistence is key, as is a passion for your subject area, and genuinely interacting with other people online.
If you think there is anything worth adding to this article, please feel free to comment below!