Search engine optimization is dictated by hundreds of factors that search engines use to rank web pages. Among those factors lie a few that are widely known as the most important.
Keyword optimization, content creation, site architecture, and backlinking are typically the ones that SEOs will site as essential. Those are the elements that you should put the most effort into, and each of them is as complicated as the next.
It’s important to understand the elements of SEO and how you can use them to improve your site. In this article, we’ll go over backlinks and SEO so that you can start an effective link building strategy.
Backlinks and SEO
To start, we’ll explain a little bit about how search engines use links and take information from them to rank your site.
Links are central to the way that search engines archive information. It can be easy to think of search engines as ultimate web-authorities which information must go through in order to even exist on the internet.
This isn’t the case, though. Search engines, just like normal sites, are independent entities that operate and compete with one another. You may be surprised to know that Google, the world’s dominant search engine, has indexed a very small percentage of the internet.
This is, in part, due to the fact that a lot of information on the web exists beyond the reach of the normal person. Places like the dark and deep web are vast and take up huge portions of the content online. There’s also just a lot of information online.
The point is, Google has to find ways to catalog as much information on the web as it can. In order to get through all of the content on the web, search engines use bots commonly referred to as crawlers.
Crawlers are technology that move through the hyperlinks of the internet, documenting the pages that they’re taken to. The specific ways that crawlers index information aren’t too important for our purposes, so you can think of them metaphorically.
Imagine little spiders that poke through doors (links) and catch all the information in their web, sending what they’ve gathered back to the main nest. There’s a lot of information that gets cataloged and that’s the information that engines use to rank your page.
When crawlers find themselves being redirected over and over again to the same pages through disparate links, that means something. If you thought about search engine results pages (SERPS) as democratic elections, backlinks (links to your site from another site) would be like votes.
So, the more sites that vote for you, the more likely you are to rank highly in the results pages. It’s important to keep the intentions of the search engine in mind when you conceptualize SEO.
The more votes you get, the more relevant you probably are. Why, specifically, does being relevant matter?
The Search Engine’s Point of View
Keep in mind that search engines like Google are competing with other engines like Bing or Yahoo. If Google’s results start to become irrelevant, users will be more inclined to use a different site.
That means that every engine has a vested interest in providing the most relevant search results for the users it has. That means providing a great user experience and preventing hungry sites from cheating the algorithm and landing in searches that they don’t belong.
For these reasons, it’s incredibly difficult to understand and use the algorithm to a website’s advantage. That said, there are things, like link building, that shows an organic value and effort that could hardly be gained dishonestly.
If you’re getting websites to link to you, it shows that you have an inherent value. That is why link building is so important in the grand scheme of optimization.
So, How Can You Build Links?
There are a few effective ways to build links that will boost your site’s rankings. Unfortunately, there’s no easy climb to the top in this case. You will have to do some work, pound for pound with each link.
Here are the sure-fire link building methods:
1. Natural Popularity
This is the ideal way to get links. Becoming a popular site comes with respect. When you’re a respected authority in your niche, other sites will want to link to your content to help their users.
The key here is to create extremely helpful content that solves user issues. Achieving this requires that you optimize well in other areas of SEO and fine-tune your content creation methods.
Natural popularity is a result of link building but it also improves your link building efforts. If you were the owner of an already popular site, however, you probably wouldn’t be reading this.
2. Simple Link Creation
The easiest way to build links is through commenting and posting regularly on different social media sites, content pages, and more. Each time you post something that links back toward your site, you gather another link.
These links, however, aren’t extremely valuable. Links aren’t all viewed the same in the eyes of the search engine, and these ones probably hold the lowest value.
At the same time, you should take what you can get, and don’t rule out the value of little things that add up. If you’re going to put a great deal of time and effort into your link building campaign, you should focus more on the following method.
3. Outreach and Content Creation
The best way to cultivate a wealth of high-value links from sites in your niche is to reach out to other sites.
Sending out emails and suggestions to authority sites in your niche is an excellent way to start forming relationships and building links. If you have content that you feel would be interesting to other site owners, send them an email introducing yourself and link to the content.
Simply reading your content might prompt other site owners to suggest it to their users in the form of a link. They might also respond back with some content of their own for you to peruse.
The value of having relationships in your niche is huge and those relationships allow you to ask for and perform favors like content creation.
Content Creation for Links
Other site owners may want a little something in exchange for the placement of your link on one of their pages. One common way that this happens is through the creation of content for the site’s page.
You can write a blog post or create a video to be posted on another site in exchange for the opportunity to add a link or two within that content. Be selective about the sites you take the time to produce content for, though.
When thinking about where to put your time and effort, keep the following link value factors in mind so you get the most value out of your efforts.
Search engines value links based on a number of factors that signify how significant they are to users and your site. Here are a few of the important ones:
1. Site Relevance
If you’re a computer company, links from a toilet store aren’t going to have as much value as links from Apple’s website.
The sites you seek to get links from should be ones that are already in your niche. Links from closely related sites mean a lot. First, they are your competition, and a link from them means they’re sacrificing a little pride and giving you respect.
Second, the fact that they’re giving you respect means that your content must be engaging and useful enough to have value.
2. Site Authority
The more popular the site, the more valuable the link. Websites that have a good deal of authority in their niche have the ability to significantly boost your rankings.
It can be very hard to get linked to from the top authorities in your site, though. Don’t shoot for the biggest fish in the sea before you start to pick up some popularity on your own.
There are multiple means of analyzing the domain authority of the site you’re looking at. Before you reach out, make sure that you’re dealing with someone that will provide some value.
3. Content Quality
This item has to do both with search engines and the perceived value it gives your users. Even if a site has a lot of traffic, make the executive decision about its content.
Some websites, even though they’ll give you a little boost in the SERPs, will reflect extremely poorly on you from your users. Word spreads like wildfire in the digital age, and there’s no way to get back a lost reputation.
This could mean that the content on a backlinked page is very low quality, or that the nature of the content is contrary to the values that your site and your users hold.
Being linked to by a known racist website would be a bad thing for your reputation, for example.
4. Linking Network
When you get linked to, you’re sort of connected to all of the other links in that site’s network.
Take a look at the other websites that a site links to. If all of the outbound links on the site go to reputable pages, it’d be a safe bet to add yourself to that group. If not, steer clear.
Sites that pander for links and associate with shady pages are likely to diminish your reputation. This is because a lot of sites that participate in that activity are likely to spam and use dishonest means of gaining domain authority.
While the search engine algorithm is complicated, there are certainly ways to cheat it for a time before you get caught. Don’t buddy up with the sites that haven’t gotten caught yet and know how to tell them from the others.
Don’t sleep on your link building because you’ve had some success.
Links that were gained ten years ago will do you no good in this day and age. You have to keep up to date with your links to show that you are currently relevant to users.
Site Architecture and Link Building
Getting links is about getting better rankings, but it’s also about sending traffic to your site. What good is traffic if users aren’t compelled to peruse and make purchases or downloads?
It’s important to direct your backlinks to pages on your site that will direct users to areas where you can make conversions.
How to Arrange Your Content
You can think of your content creation as a great tree with branches that reach out, leading back toward the trunk.
Your blog posts and content that’s posted regularly can be thought of as the leaves of your tree. Those posts should always have a call to action in conjunction with links in the text that lead further back the tree.
Ultimately, you want to have a few pages that will serve as pillars. These are pages that have direct access to your products and services and can relate to a great deal of content within your niche.
Your blog posts and content creation platforms should always lead back to these pages. Additionally, your backlinks should be sent anywhere on the pipeline from your content creation to your pillar pages.
That means you shouldn’t link to any pages on your site that don’t really have a purpose or lead to a place where users can make conversions.
Having Trouble With the Fine Details?
Understanding backlinks and SEO can be a difficult process. There’s so much to learn and understand within backlinking alone, and when all of that information builds up, it can be overwhelming.
Sometimes it can help to seek out the work or advice of the professionals. If you’re interested in boosting your SEO and fine-tuning your site to be as successful as it can be, contact us to learn some more about getting started.