Link building is your secret SEO success sauce. Although the scenery of SEO and link building is always changing, building quality links is vital to be found in search engines. If you’re an entrepreneur or a business owner who wants to thrive online, it’s critical to understand the basics of building links and creating powerful outreach campaigns.
Our guide below is designed to help you understand the anatomy of link building and to simplify the way it impacts online marketing. Keep reading only if you want to become a link building master.
What Exactly is Link Building?
Link building, also known as actively gaining backlinks, is the process of attaining hyperlinks pointing to your site. Links are how users navigate between various sites. Search engines like Google will then use these links to crawl and organize the internet. They crawl links between individual pages on your site and links between entire websites.
There are a lot of strategies for link building including guest posting, broken link building, getting featured on resource pages, interlinking between your own pages, and many more.
Whatever strategy you decide to use, SEO experts all agree that this area of optimization is one of the most challenging parts of organic search. Link building is one part science, one part art, and one part relationship building. It’s safe to say that mastering the art or building relevant and quality links can revolutionize your online presence.
Where it All Started
Back in the 1990s, one of Google’s founders, Larry Page, invented PageRank. Using this platform, Google was able to appraise a page based on the number of links pointing to the given domain. This system was then used as an important function of Google’s overall ranking algorithm, quickly becoming the most important ranking factor.
This mechanism was revolutionary. Never before had anyone, search engines included, considered that a link could be an endorsement of a particular page or website.
This system was quickly manipulated. SEO experts soon discovered ways to change the proper functioning of PageRank, and use it to their advantage. This was called PageRank sculpting. Google soon began to actively seek out people who were sculpting their pages and created stricter protocols to filter out links that weren’t authentic.
Due to these new filtering protocols, link building strategies like PageRank sculpting soon died out. They were replaced by new ones, some spammy and some legitimate. Google caught onto many of these, too, and changed their algorithms.
This dance has continued over the years and brings us to link building in 2018.
How Does Link Building Impact SEO?
The two underlying ways that search engines utilize links is to discover new pages and to determine how highly a page should rank in their results. In order to understand the physics behind this, it’s important to understand the basics:
The first thing search engine crawlers (often nicknamed spiders) do is collect the robots.txt file of a domain. The crawler gathers all the relevant information about the pages on the domain and feeds it back to a database. Their crawlers are more of a scheduling system that mixes the domain’s pages by priority and indexes them at a later time.
The crawler also gathers a list of all the pages the domain’s individual pages link to. If it stumbles on internal links, then it will follow them to the other pages on the domain. If the link in question is external, it is put into a database for later indexing.
Later on, once the links are processed, the search engine will assign relevant values to them. These values may be positive or negative, impacting the overall link value. For example, if one of the hyperlinks led the search engine spider to a known spammy domain, the link value would decrease. If it led the spider to a high-quality site, the link value would increase.
To tie everything together, the more links you have pointing at your domain, the better. If website A has three links and website B has five links, website B will likely rank higher in search results. This isn’t the case across the board, but generally speaking, it’s true.
Reaping the Benefits
Now that you know how links work, let’s get into some of the benefits of link building. Aside from the obvious perk of higher organic rankings, it does a lot of other good stuff.
Having a site flooded with credible backlinks usually increases the indexing rate. Links on site help crawlers identify different pages and crawl your site more efficiently. Especially for a newborn site, obtaining backlinks allows for faster optimization and discovery of the site. Think of it as putting the word out there – my site exists and it’s pretty awesome.
Backlinking also drives referral traffic. While we mainly look at the SEO value of links, there’s something to be said for the human users clicking through them. In many cases, this referral traffic is worth its weight in gold, especially if you have a reputable and trusted domain sending users to your website.
Although link building is constantly evolving, now more than ever, the benefits don’t change. You obtain a higher ranking, more traffic, and become more trusted in the eyes of search engines. Strengthening link equity and building a solid network of references is only the beginning of digital marketing domination. Next up is business development, but that’s a post for another time.
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