Have you heard about link building? Do you need links for your website? Link building is one of the most important parts of SEO (an Off Page SEO technique).
Google is trying to give it less importance, since it is one of the areas that we can easily manipulate artificially. Nevertheless, its algorithm is still very dependent on links as part of its “Page Rank” technology. This is why link building is still one of the pillars of search engine optimization.
Among all search engine optimization techniques, link building is the only one that does not depend entirely on us but on other websites wanting to link to us. Anyone can have a well optimized website through their own efforts but getting links from other sites requires a combination of technical and commercial skills that very few manage to master.
In this article, divided into 2 parts, we are going to explain what link building is based on so that you can see how important this discipline is within SEO. We will also show you how to design a link building strategy for your website, what techniques exist and what tools you can use to carry out your strategy. Although we always mention Google, it is important to bear in mind that we mention it because Google is the one who started using links as a positioning factor, a technique later adopted by several search engines. However, links are also important to a greater or lesser extent for other search engines such as Bing or Yandex.
The importance of link building for SEO
PageRank is a technology patented by Google and the basis of its search algoritms. It has a direct influence on the position that web pages hold in its search engine. Although Google is now trying to reduce its weight, it is still a very important factor. Google takes into account the quantity and quality of links pointing to your website.
For Google, every link pointing to our website is like a vote, indicating to its search engine that our content is relevant to a particular topic. However, not all votes are worth the same. This is because the PageRank of each website – and therefore the PageRank that it transfers to other sites through its links – is calculated according to the sum of the PageRank that each site receives. It may seem complicated, but the image below makes it easier to understand:
So, there are websites whose vote is worth more than others because they are considered by Google to be an authority on a certain topic. Therefore, it is important that most of the links we get for our website are of quality and from pages that have a high PageRank.
Google wants links to be obtained in a natural way, that is to say, that they are linked to your page because of the quality of its content. Although many links are obtained in this way, we should not fool ourselves, most of them are obtained more or less artificially. Hence, link building also involves making those links look natural in the eyes of Google.
See the original document on PageRank, by the founders of Google (PDF).
Factors to take into account before designing your strategy
Before you start designing your link building strategy, you need to take into account certain factors or aspects of links. These are concepts that you must fully understand before you can start link building, otherwise, it will be very difficult for you to design a successful link building strategy.
The content of the websites is very important, the links that are built must follow the same subject that our website has or, at least, have a direct relationship with it. If a user visits a website about traveling to Tenerife, for example, they might be interested in visiting other websites about restaurants in Tenerife, travel accessories, hotel bookings, etc. It would make no sense to link to a website dedicated to birthday presents.
Nevertheless, you can also build links to general websites (those that talk about a bit of everything) and, in fact, it is highly recommended. But it is advisable that at least 70% of the links are on the same topic as your website and 30% on other topics.
Enlaces DoFollow y NoFollow
The “nofollow” attribute on links is something to take into account. It is a tag proposed by Google and widely accepted across the Internet, which tells search engines not to follow the link that carries it or, if they decide to follow it, not to transfer authority from one site to another.
a href="https://www.iberactiv.com" rel="nofollow">Texto del enlace /a
Links that do not have the “nofollow” attribute are usually called “Dofollow”, but there is no such thing as a the “Dofollow” attribute
a href="https://www.iberactiv.com" rel="dofollow">Texto del enlace /a
You might be probably thinking that you only need DoFollow links, but you actually don’t. A “natural” profile will carry both types of links. It is important that you also have NoFollow links to make your links look natural (these are easier to get). There is no defined ratio for the two types of links, but a profile with approximately 65% DoFollow links and 35% NoFollow links is generally considered reasonable.
The anchor text is the text that is visible in the link, where you click to go to the linked website. Anchor texts are usually varied and can be the URL itself, a keyword of our market, the name of our company, or anything else like “click here” or “read this article”.
This is why a varied proportion of anchor texts is also important. It is recommended to use keywords of our market for half of our links and to divide the rest proportionally with the company name, the complete URL and other types of anchor texts. This also includes links on images, which do not carry any anchor text.
Domain Authority (DA) is “a search engine ranking score developed by Moz that predicts how likely a website is to rank in search engine result pages”. Moz.com has no direct relationship with Google or its algorithm, but it is a great index to measure the quality of links, since Google stopped publishing the PageRank of each website years ago.
The higher the Domain Authority, the better the website. How to know the DA? There are a lot of tools, but we recommend the freeMoz Chrome extension
It is another fundamental aspect to take into account when building links, also developed by Moz.com and used in conjunction with the DA. It represents the percentage of sites with similar characteristics to yours that Moz.com identifies as being penalized by Google. So, if you get a lot of votes from sites that have done “bad things”, you also have a high chance of being penalized by the search engine.
Trust Flow / Citation Flow
These are two equally interesting tools for assessing link quality, developed by Majestic. While the Trust Flow tries to measure the quality of the links pointing to a web page, the Citation Flow focuses on the quantity of links. Both combined give a realistic idea of the authority of a URL or domain.
The types of websites where links are published are also important, as they define the way you get links or the strategy you are following. You can get links from user profiles (in forums or blogs), links from directories contextual links (in the body text of a page), links coming from newspapers, from blog articles, and many others. A “natural” link profile is supposed to have links from many different sources.
Avoid at all costs the so-called “link farms”,” i.e., those built exclusively to provide links between a group of sites. They are (sometimes) easily identifiable, as they tend to have poor design and content, but many links are repeated on all of them, especially in areas that are repeated on all pages (site-wide links).
Also avoid “bad neighborhoods”, which are websites with links to porn sites, online pharmacy sites, gambling sites etc. Unless, of course, your own site is one of these. And even if it is, be careful that they do not contain illegal content of any kind.
To be continued…
This topic is too long for a single article, so in the second part we explain how to design a good link building strategy and the most used techniques to carry it out. Contact us if you need more information or advice on link building.