SEO (search engine optimization) is a combination of digital marketing techniques to increase the (online) visibility of a website on the search engine results pages. For most businesses this means getting on page one, or even position one, in Google’s search results. A successful SEO strategy consist of 3 major pillars: technical SEO (the optimization of your website’s code and structure), on-page SEO (everything involving your website’s content), and off-page SEO. In this article we will focus on one important aspect of the off-page SEO by explaining what link building is and how it works.
What is a link?
Simply said, a link, or a hyperlink, is a connection between two pages on the internet. With a link you can refer people to a page, a blog post, a PDF file or a different object on the web. So, with a link you are able to travel from one web location to another. To understand the importance of link building it is crucial to understand what a link is, how it is created, and how search engines recognize and interpret them.
In coding language (HTML), a hyperlink looks like this:
<a href=”https://www.griddigitalmarketing.com/search-engine optimization/”>Search Engine Optimization</a>
A link consists of 4 different parts and all these elements work together to form a unit. Each part has a specific function within the link. In the following section we will explain the different sections of a link step-by-step.
1. The start of the link:
The first part of the link is called an anchor tag (the “a”). It opens the link tag and informs the search engine that a link to another page or entity is about to follow.
2. Link Referral Location:
The “href” stands for “hyperlink referral”, the text inside the quotation marks indicates the URL to which the link is referring. In this case, it’s the URL of the Search Engine Optimization page (https://www.griddigitalmarketing.com/search-engine optimization/)
This doesn’t have to be a web page necessarily, it can also be an image, a PDF file or a different download file.
3. Visible text of the link/achor text:
The anchor text is the piece of text that website users are able to see. Users need to click on this bit of text if they want to open the link. The text is usually blue and underlined to tell users that the link is clickable. This piece of text is called the “anchor text”. The anchor text has two purposes: it should describe what the linked page is about and it should invite people to click. If a link has a relevant anchor text, this has two advantages:
1) More people will click on it, which will lead to direct traffic.
2) It will help search engines understand what your page is about, possibly leading to more traffic from search engines.
Obviously, you cannot control what anchor text other people use to link to your site, but you can use a relevant anchor text for your own internal website links. Also when requesting links from partners it is worth considering what your anchor text should be and including this in your request.
4. The closure of the tag:
This indicates to search engines the ending of the link tag.
Search engine robots follow links to discover new pages on the internet. This is called “crawling”. Once a search engine has crawled a webpage, it will extract the content and add it to their index. During this process it will decide whether a webpage is of sufficient quality to be ranked well for relevant keywords (Google created a short video about this process). When search engines are deciding this, they don’t just look at the content of the page, they also look at the number of links pointing to that page from external websites and the quality of those external websites. So, the more high-quality websites link to your website, the more likely it is that your website will rank well in the search results. And this is where link building comes in.
What is link building and why does it matter?
Link building is the process of acquiring links from other websites to your own website. Link building is important because it is a big factor in how search engines like Google rank web pages. If numerous high-quality links lead to a specific webpage/site, search engines will consider it relevant and therefore they will rank the website higher. For easier understanding, you can see a link as a positive vote, and the more votes (links) you have to your website the better you are ranked. It is however important that these votes (links) are coming from other well rated websites. The Google algorithm takes this into consideration to ensure that people do not achieve the highest rankings simply by spamming low quality website links. In fact, bad link building procedures can actually lead to punishment by the Google search engine leading to decreased Google ranking, so make sure you’re getting it right!
What should you do to get links?
There’s a right way and a wrong way to get links to your site. If you care about the long-term result of your site and business, we advise you to stay away from shady tactics like buying links. If you want to do it the right way, try some of these strategies:
- Create valuable content that can be interesting or beneficial for people to link to. How do you do this? Find out who your target audience is, what kind of content they need and are interested in, and from there you start writing and sharing content.
- Try to get links from relevant partners, for instance the supplier, manufacturer or distributor of your product(s) and other businesses you associate with.
- Write and publish a press release.
- Hire a SEO-specialist that can help construct and execute a (successful) link building strategy.
Hopefully, this article has given you more insight into what link building is and why it is important. Link building can be a confusing topic, however, if done correctly it can have amazing results for your website traffic and Google rankings. Do you have any questions about this article or link building in general? Feel free to contact us for further assistance or SEO advise. We can help you reach the top rankings in a cost-efficient, and long-term positive manner.