Links are among the many factors that influence your search rank. Managing links can be frustrating, especially because not every link is a “good” link. Here’s a look at link building for SEO.
Why Do Links Matter to Search Engines?
Links create credibility. Links to your site from credible websites signal to Google and other search engines that your content is valuable in your area of expertise. That’s a good thing!
But links from a poorly rated site can cause SEO headaches. They have the opposite effect. When a poorly ranked site links to you, your content is seen as of limited value. You are impacted by the company you keep online.
How to Evaluate a Link
Several factors determine if a link to your web content is good in the eyes of search engines:
+ The site has high authority
+ The site is relevant to your content, industry and expertise
+ The link does not use the “nofollow” attribute
+ The link is not on a page with lots of other outgoing links (not a “link farm” page)
+ The link uses a keyword that you rank well for
Perhaps the most frustrating of the factors is the concept of a “high authority” website. There are many rankings out there.
You can get a good sense of a quality site just by taking a look. Is the site from a credible source like an association, a research organization, a well-regarded consumer resource, etc?
Several tools can help when the site quality or authority is not clear, examples:
- Moz: Domain Authority (MozBar is a free Chrome Extension that allows you to see Domain Authority for any site you visit)
- SEMrush: Domain Score
- Alexa: Competitive Power
- Ahrefs: Domain Rating
Some links include a “nofollow” attribute in the code that literally tells the search engine not to follow them and not to attribute value to them. With “nofollow”, the SEO value of that link is zero.
The “nofollow” parameter can also be used in a meta tag for the page and/or the robots.txt file for the website, but usually it’s added to a specific link.
Some websites use “nofollow” to reduce spam and the incentive for authors to sell links. Even though these links don’t boost your SEO, they are still valuable at authoritative sites. They can get clicked by users and send visitors your way.
How to Get the Best Links for SEO and Visibility
Actively managing the links to your site is worthwhile for SEO. This means asking for links as well as ensuring that links at other sites are high quality.
This is what you want to achieve in link building for SEO and online visibility :
- Link is to content within your site that best supplements the content of the referring page. Links to pages other than your homepage are the most valuable.
- Link uses a keyword that you rank for.
- Link is from a high authority site that does not already have a lot of links to your site.
Factor these elements in any time you ask for a link from another website. Be specific so you (and the linking site) get the most impact for the link effort.
“Can you please link your content at [page] to my content at [page]. Suggested link text is [include keyword].”
Use the same formula when contacting a webmaster to revise a link to your site.
Links Are Worthwhile
Links signal to search engines and people that your content is relevant and valued by others. That’s a good thing. Managing your links with the optimal results in mind is best, but even less than ideal links help more than hurt.
The best way to win links is to attract them organically. Create content worth linking to and build relationships with people in your area of expertise that have websites with valuable content.
Demonstrate best practices at your site by linking to great content that is not your own.