Link Building Strategies
Domain Authority and Page Authority are two of the most important underlying metrics that helps determine search engine ranking of your domain or individual webpages. Both are affected by the qualitative and quantitative measure of the external and internal links present in a domain (sometimes called link juice).
Google’s algorithm integrated Panda in February 2011. Panda, which now updates in real-time, allows SEOs to correct linking malpractices. Google’s move to make Panda a core part of its algorithm reinforces just how important linking is to Google’s ranking metrics.
Optimizing your external and internal links can improve your SERP rankings, and also enhance user experience. Following are the best practices for optimizing your internal and external linking strategies.
Link Building Strategies: Gathering High Value External Links
Why External Links Factor Highly
You may wonder why Google places so much importance on external links pointing to your website. External links have a higher importance than internal links because they serve as an objective measure of the linked page’s value. External links essentially are a third-party vote towards your webpage.
External links from a trusted website shows search engines how important and relevant the linked content is. For example, if your website produces content dealing with market tends, an external link from the Wall Street Journal will signal that your content has substantial importance and relevance to the topic at hand.
An external link from a reputable search will increase your webpage’s SERP ranking and provide future opportunities to link back and forth with other reputable websites that specialize in the same topics. If the Wall Street Journal is struggling for a new perspective on a future blog post or article, which website do you think they’ll come to first for further information?
How to Garner External Links?
The first step in garnering external links is to produce quality and relevant content. Produce content with sustaining power–content that will rank and be relevant five years later. Content production is not exclusive to blog posts either; this could mean creating an innovative web software, a visually striking infographic, or a well researched white paper.
But creating stellar content will not merely market itself, and Google can only read content and determine its importance in a very limited capacity. Market your content by contacting third party websites directly, which typically occurs through an email. The best way to gather external links is to establish a linking relationship with another website; this could occur by providing an outbound link within your content to another website, and asking them to link back to you.
Further linking abilities occur naturally when you share your content over social media. Also, create a comments section in your content so users can market your content itself. Eventually, revolutionary and relevant content will reach another website that will link back to your website to boost their own authority. External linking between two websites is mutually beneficial as long as both websites provide links to content that is relevant to the source page itself.
Of course, not all websites are equal; external links from websites with a high domain authority will provide more value than others.
Determining External Link Metrics
Traditionally, external links to a target page should contain optimized anchor text and should not hamper user experience. The value of external links to a target link page will be determined by the source page’s trustworthiness, popularity, and the relevancy between the content of the source page to the target page. Simply inserting multiple external links between two parties will be identified as spam if they are not relevant and are obviously used to manipulate search engine page rankings.
Google also considers other factors determine the value of external links, such as the relationship present between the two linking parties; the total number of links on a source page linking to a target page; the number of root domains that link to a target page; and the amount of variations of anchor text used in links to the target page.
Link Building Strategies: Optimizing Your Internal Linking Network
Internal Links Create Authority
Internal links factor heavily into online authority because they signal which pages are determined to be more important than others. Internal links are links that navigate users to a different webpage across the same domain. Internal links allow search engines to crawl all of the different pathways across a domain, and factor every link that points to a single webpage into its SERP rankings.
Internal links pass link authority through your domain by uncovering webpages that may hidden from search engines because there is no internal link pointing to it. By opening up new pathways to individual webpages of content, search engines are able to evaluate the link juice being spread across your domain and determine which webpages are more highly valued than others.
Developing an Information Infrastructure
Internal links allow webmasters to develop an information architecture across their domain that establishes the relevance and value of individual webpages in that architecture. In establishing an information architecture, your website is also establishing pathways for users to navigate your website, which will prologue their dwell time on your website and also create opportunities for conversions.
Many websites make the mistake of linking back to home pages and topical pages–internal links should be used to uncover hidden webpages deep within your information architecture. Internal links within content should optimally be used to link to other blocks of content that would otherwise only be accessible through a homepage or a topical homepage. Internal links between content on your domain allows users to navigate horizontally to other deep webpages without having to first navigate to your homepage or hit the back button.
Link Building Strategies: How Much is too Much?
The number of links contained in a content webpage should not exceed more than 100 links. While there does not exist a penalty for containing over 100 links on your webpage, this was the number suggested by Google’s Mathew Cutts.
Your website will most likely contain sidebar navigation links and a homepage button, which means links to these sources is unnecessary to place within content or even at the end of content. Link stuffing will not improve your website authority, especially if links to multiple pages across your domain are not relevant to the source page. Internal links should be placed naturally without impeding user experience, and should be kept to a minimum throughout content.
This includes the total number of outbound and internal links across your domain. There is no true number of internal links that you should follow. Ultimately, place links to relevant webpages at the end of articles and place outbound and internal links within the content through anchor text.
Link Building Strategies: Anchor Text
Anchor text represents the clickable portion of text that contains a hyperlink. Anchor text can be optimized to include keywords to target webpages, utilizing your keyword research thus far. Optimally, internal links should be any piece of written content within a post that is explicitly relevant to the target webpage.
Search engines view anchor text as the keyword in which the target page should be ranking for, so optimizing anchor text to contain appropriate broad match or exact match keywords is important for the source and target link pages. There are multiple types of anchor texts, ranging from exact keyword matches to a branded keyword, identifying the brand name of the target page. Choosing the right type of anchor text will be contingent upon your content’s relevance to the webpage it is linking to.
Link Building Strategies: How to Use Follow Links
What are Follow and Nofollow Links?
Nofollow links can be confusing for website owners. Simply, Nofollow links are links that are not crawled by search engines. A vast majority of your internal links will be follow links. Follow links will be counted into page rankings and help spread link authority for your website. Unfortunately, before the rel=”nofollow” tag many websites were plagued by spam link practices in their comments sections and had no way of stopping this.
When to use Nofollow Links
There are a few schools of thought on Nofollow links. Some says nofollow links should not be used because they could impede the link authority being spread across your website. But, nofollow links can be useful in helping to stop malicious link practices that may be penalized under Google’s Panda update.
Nofollow links should be used for links contained a in comments section, a forum, links to paid link schemes, and link farming schemes. Ultimately, use nofollow links wisely and do not use them for content webpages or within content as this could cause crawling issues for deeper pieces of content that are not linked in your upper information hierarchy.
Link Building Strategies: Further Things to Consider
Depending on the UX design of your website, some links may not be crawled. Some of these links include ones contained in submission forms and internal search engines. Search engines are not going to complete a submission form or perform an internal search, so these links may be lost.
Links embedded in plug-ins and in I-frames may not be crawled depending on their structure. It’s suggested that you avoid embedding important links within these sources. Other than this, webpages with hundreds of links may not be crawled and webpages that contain a nofollow link or a robots.txt tag will not be able to be crawled.
Link Building Strategies: Final Comments
Internal and external links factor heavily into search rankings, and black hat practices will be easily identified under Google’s Panda algorithm. The benefits of an optimized linking strategy can provide strategic benefits for your website and develop new relationships with other websites that can strengthen your brand exposure.
Links should be placed naturally throughout content and contain well optimized anchor text. By following these simple tips you can substantially increase your individual web page rank in a short time. It’s important to regularly check your domain for broken links and 301 redirects, as this will harm your website’s authority and user experience.