Link building has always been an integral part of an SEO strategy and has gone through many different iterations of execution over the past 10 years. With the past core algorithm updates this importance has only increased, as more top SERPs have good link profiles to help them achieve their positions within Google’s Search Engine.
What is Link Building
Link building is the act of linking related content across the web in order to show the relevance of topics to each other and also to show how important certain websites are to particular topics. There are two ways to carry out link building: internally or externally.
Internal Link Building
Internal link building is linking resources within one website. This could be linking a product page within a blog article or providing a link from one article to another related article on a website so visitors can read more about a topic. The importance of this, from an SEO perspective, is to show that a website creates consistent content around certain subjects and it not just creating trending content without a core subject or topic for the website. When ranking on the first page of Google Search became an important element to many companies, blackhat websites would create content around everything and anything trending and rank high for them while trying to sell unrelated products and services. This led to a bad user experience and unhappy Google users, leading the company to creating guidelines around link building which included internal link building to show how your website content is closely related. Using your internal link building strategy to point different keywords to related web pages is also a great way to improving the page authority of these webpages.
External Link Building
External linking is creating link between your content and that of influencers in the topic area, or vice versa. By providing high quality resources to find out more information on a topic you can show Google that you are closely related to this website or topic which will help them optimise search results better. By creating high quality content that organically achieves inbound links, Google sees that the content is important to readers on particular subjects and sees a correlation between your content and that of the linking authority. It is great if the domain which links to you is of higher domain authority as some of this ‘link juice’ will pass over to your page increasing its authority.
There are many ways to conduct Link Building for SEO purposes. The most important thing to remember is that Google, the most prominent search engine, frowns on paid links, so no money should pass hands when conducting your link building strategy.
The Different Types of Links: Follow vs NoFollow
The are two different types of hyperlinks that you can achieve and these are follow and nofollow links. There are pros and cons to both types of links but both are good to have in your strategy.
Follow links are the default setting when adding a hyperlink and tells Google and other search engines that the domain link is a good, normally organic, link. This means that search engines see the linked resource as an expert in this area and ranks it higher than a perceived competitor without inbound links. Obviously the high the authority of the linking website and the more ‘points’ the linked resource receives. A great example is if you were to receive an inbound link from the likes of ABC or The New York Times vs a small town website. ABC and The New York Times has high domain authority than small town, local websites so a link from one of them is worth five to ten links from a low domain authority website. That is not to say that links from smaller websites are not worthwhile, because they are; you just need more of them to receive higher ranking.
NoFollow links on the other hand still are inbound links to your website but they provide no ‘points’ from the linked domain. This attribute was created to show search engines that certain links do not hold the same standing as others. These include spam links in comments, paid links within articles or links in forums which have not been quality checked. This allows Google and other search engines to keep tabs on website and only promote websites that are genuinely creating quality content that readers enjoy. NoFollow links are not all bad though. You may not achieve a high page or domain authority through receiving them but you can still acquire referral traffic that can convert well if you conduct your strategy well.
Internal Linking Strategies
So we have already defined internal link building; It is creating a link between one page of a website to another page through a hyperlink. And we have discussed why it is important to carry out internal link building; to show search engines and website visitors that the content you have created is all related and not inconsistent. So how do you do it? Here we will talk about the most prevalent internal link building strategies that we hear about. Keep in mind that is a best practice to avoid linking to top pages that are included in your main navigation but build ranking for lower level product/service or blog/case study article.
1. Content Freshness to Add Links
Find the pages on your website that have the highest page authority and update them to include links to lower ranking ones. This could mean the subject of the high ranking page will need to change a little but try not to change it too much as it could affect the ranking of that page. It is also important to make sure that the new content flows well in the document and that it is not just added in without consideration of the rest of the content on the page.
Discover which of your pages are ranking on the second/third page of the search results and for what terms. Use this to guide how you add internal links within top ranking pages on your website. Update or add links to high authority pages using the term as your anchor link where possible.
3. Link top traffic pages to conversion pages
Conversion pages are less likely to rank highly in search engine results as people need to research before deciding to buy something. Ensuring your call to action is linked appropriately and the conversion page is optimised according ensures that over time this page will move up in rankings.
What are the Benefits of Internal Linking
There are three main benefits of internal linking not just from an SEO perspective but also a User Experience perspective. These are:
Internal links help Users to find their way around your website in a rational manner. Each internal link should lead the User to a different part of the website that is directly related to the page that they are on. By clicking on a link the User is showing that they want to learn more so don’t disappoint by leading them to a sales page before they are ready.
All pages should have links to each pages and link depth is important with this. Blog articles should link to pages higher up than they so Google can understand the link between the article and perhaps a service or product. Internal linking helps Google to comprehend how each page interacts with another so that it can then do the same when presenting this information to a searcher.
Pages with high link equity can spread some of its authority to less authoritative pages that are maybe just starting out. This is a great strategy when you launch a new campaign that has a landing page but be sure to not include your high authority pages on all webpages as this is not organic or helpful at all.
External Linking Strategies
If you Google search your company name, product name or the names of any of your team members you may find a lot of references to them without a hyperlink to the company homepage, product landing page or team member page. The easiest strategy here is to reach out to the websites with these references and ask them to input a hyperlink to your website. 9 times out of 10 they are happy to oblige and you can earn some inbound links quickly.
2. Broken Links
If you read a lot within your industry you may, from time to time, come across articles with broken links in them. An effective strategy to gain inbound links while also creating a content calendar is to take note of these broken links, write content around it which would fit nicely within the link, publish it on your website, and then contact the webpage with the broken link, asking them to replace it with yours.
3. Directories and Resource Pages
Including links to your company’s homepage or product page in directories and resource pages that list products in different categories is a great way to get an inbound link. Normally you just need to fill out a short form to get included in a directory but you will need to reach out to web pages normally to get included on their resource pages.
What are the Benefits of External Linking
The quality of your external link building strategy is correlated to your SERP ranking. The higher quality the links you receive the more likely you are to rank higher in google and vice versa. Of course there are other ranking factors to take into account in terms of the previous sentence so higher rankings are not guaranteed through just linking building alone. The benefits of external linking among other things are:
The more websites that link to your web pages, the more popular your website is likely to be. This is of course not true when you buy links, which is considered a black hat SEO tactic. The higher the domain authority of the websites that link to you the more link juice you receive from it. This is a good reason to strive for high quality, relevant, and up-to-date content on your website.
Creating Content Relationships
When someone links to your website in a blog article it is normally when they are talking about this same topic in their article. Creating this link between the two pieces of content helps Google to create knowledge hubs that help with ranking, semantic keywords and other elements of SEO. Again the higher the domain authority the higher Google will rank this link, creating a closer relationship between these articles.
Link Building Conclusions
So there you have it; link building is a huge topic that we have just scratched the surface of but you can see the value of this activity within your SEO strategy. Take some time to decide what your link building strategy will be and track it over 6-12 months to see the true success for you.