Link building basics for search engine optimization
It is now common knowledge, at least among online marketers
and search engine optimization (SEO) specialists, that the success of
a SEO campaign is dependent to a great extent on the success of link
Greater the number of links from high-quality, relevant websites, greater
the chances of a website getting ranked higher in the search engine results
pages (SERPs) for relevant keywords.
However, this fact is lost upon a high number of website owners, particularly
small to medium sized enterprises. Recently, we were extremely surprised
that one of our SEO prospects in Singapore had zero link popularity several
years after the website had gone live. So, there is undoubtedly a need
to educate clients and prospects on the basics of link building and why
achieving a good link popularity is an important tactical step in online
When undertaking a link building project, there are three criteria to
be borne in mind:
• Quantity of links: More the number of links,
the better it is
• Quality of links: Better the quality of pages
and websites from which the links are obtained, greater the weightage
of those links to the overall link popularity of a site
• Relevance of links: Greater the relevance of
the sites from which the inbound links are obtained, better the results
will be with the overall off-site SEO efforts.
Focus the link building campaign on the above three aspects to achieve
How to embark on a link building campaign
The key to building high organic search engine rankings is to ensure
that the search engines view the site to be ‘naturally’ relevant
to its target users. Therefore, all efforts in the various aspects of
SEO, including boosting link popularity, should take into consideration
the need to make them seem natural.
Broadly, we consider two approaches to building links—the one-to-many
approach and the one-to-one approach.
The one-to-many approach to link building helps create visibility for
a website quickly. In this approach, we disseminate information about
a site through various legitimate distribution/ syndication channels,
for example, press
release distribution services, article marketing or suitable viral
marketing techniques (we will cover each of these techniques separately).
Not only do many of these sources provide a website with the much sought-after
inbound links from multiple sources, they can contribute to direct growth
in traffic to a website.
In the one-to-one approach, the link building specialist identifies
niche websites that could be potential link partners to pitch their own
websites. To reiterate, the criteria used in the selection of link partners
are: quality of the site (how good is the content?) and relevance to
the theme of the site to which a link is being sought. Very often, the
Google Page Rank of a web page is considered as an indicator of how valuable
a link from that particular page will be. It is certainly not the only
factor that should be considered, though it’s good to bear that
Post-identification of the sites to be targeted, the next step is to
approach these websites and solicit inbound links. The objective is to
convince the potential link provider why it would be beneficial to link
to the website being marketed. While there is software available that
attempt to automate the entire process of link building, it is often
helpful to approach potential link providers on a one-to-one basis to
provide a personalized contact.
This is a tedious process which requires patience and perseverance;
however, the benefits of getting good quality inbound links will certainly
be worth the effort.
Building one-way links for a website is definitely with this one-to-one
approach is much more challenging as it involves convincing the other
party of the merits of linking to the site. Some common ways that can
be used to build one ways links are directory submissions (both paid
and free) as well as buying links on relevant websites. The latter approach
(buying text links) is still under a cloud and there is a debate on their
value to improving search engine rankings. Of course, as long as the
links provided are related and relevant, I don’t foresee search
engines viewing it negatively.
Alternatively, many SEO professionals opt for building reciprocal links,
where in they swap links with another website. These links are deemed
to be less valuable than a one-way link from a good quality website,
but as long as the ‘reciprocal’ links are relevant (thematically),
these may continue to offer some value in the SEO process.
In an ideal world, just putting up great content would attract others
to put up links to a website. However, that is not the case and a concerted
effort needs to be put in to inform the world about a site and getting
them to link to it. Link building, therefore, is a vital aspect of any
search engine optimization activity (which can be achieved using a combination
of strategies and techniques). It is important however to ensure that
the link building team understands the big picture of what is being attempted,
so that they do not do anything that will ultimately harm a website.
The cost of being penalized by the three big search engines is very significant
and no online marketer can bear to incur that cost.
|About the author
Shashikant Shinde is an Online Marketing & Research Associate
with On Target Media & Marketing, responsible for planning and
executing link building campaigns for clients. On Target is a Singapore
based provider of search
engine optimization (SEO) and other online marketing services,
including link building and directory
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