Links for SEO 101

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Many people don’t know that links are one of the most influential factors of your Google rankings. Authoritative, inbound links with keyword-rich anchor text are what will ultimately get you ranking on page 1 for those keywords in the search engines. But how do you go about getting these quality links? Creating and carrying out a link strategy can be one of the most time-consuming SEO tasks you do for your web site. This is one reason people seek the help of an SEO professional. If you would like to do it yourself, there are a few things you should know about links beforehand, like what the different types of links are, which ones are good, bad, useful or useless.

To get started, here are some definitions:

  • Inbound links: Also known as backlinks or external links. These are links TO your site FROM other sites. These links are your biggest concern for SEO.
  • Outbound links: These are links TO other sites FROM your site. These don’t do anything for SEO, but can help your page become a better resource for your visitors.
  • Internal links: Also known as on-site links. These are links on your site to other content on your site. It’s a good SEO tactic to make sure your internal links have anchor text including your top keyword/s for the page being linked to.
  • Deep links: These are links to pages other than a website’s homepage, i.e., links to specific content. Deep links can be very valuable in building traffic and rankings for specific pages targeting specific keywords.
  • Reciprocal links: These are links that go both ways. For example, if website A links to website B, it is a reciprocal link if website B also links back to website A. In other words, link swapping. This does very little for SEO.
  • One-way link: The opposite of a reciprocal link; website A links to website B and does not have a link in return from website B. These are the best types of inbound links to have for SEO.
  • Natural links: Also known as organic links. These are inbound links from webpages that were added by someone who found your content useful or interesting enough to link to, with no other motives. These are great types of links to have, especially if they are from websites relevant to yours.

Now that you know which links are what and which ones you want to be targeting, it’s important to know that link building is not about how many links you have, but rather the quality of your links. Quality over quantity is what determines your search engine rankings. Garnering a mass amount of irrelevant links from low quality sites does you little good if any. In fact, these tactics may get you penalized by Google, which you want to avoid at all costs. Trying to generate large quantities of inbound links by “gaming the system” in some way is known as black-hat SEO. It’s a questionable practice that used to work to some degree, but I highly recommend you do not risk it these days since Google’s “Penguin” update is known to penalize sites that have too many ill-gotten links.

The best way to go about getting links is with white-hat tactics. Leave black hat SEO to the scammers, who will pay for their actions after Google catches on and penalizes them. Did you know, by using a link-checking tool like Open Site Explorer you can see where your competitors are getting their links from? If they are buying links or are going about getting links in scammy, black hat ways, you can report them to Google. Believe it or not, that is being 100% white hat! It may seem like playing dirty, but really you are playing by the rules. Just think of Google as the principal watching over the kids on the playground, but with super-hearing, super-sight, super-speed, super-strength, and super-intelligence. You start any trouble whatsoever, the principal will find you and ban you from the playground. If you see a kid doing something bad, the principal will gladly listen to your report. The playground has rules, and abiding by those rules will increase your rank much quicker than you may think. White-hat SEO of course involves more work, time, effort and creativity. Link building is time consuming when done the right way but you will be rewarded by greatly improved ranking in the search engines! Good luck with your link building efforts and give us a call if you want some help.


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