Link building is a search engine optimization term that can be described as a way to generate quality links coming to your website. Link building is also known as achieving inbound links – so if anyone ever asks you how many inbound links you have, they’re asking how many links from outside sources are pointing to your website.
Inbound links are important when it comes to SEO because the more links you get from websites, blogs, articles, etc. the more ‘votes’ your website is getting. The search engines look at these links and think of them as, “hey, this website must be good because all these other websites are linking to it”.
However one misconception about inbound links is that the point isn’t to have as many inbound links as possible. That can actually hurt your rankings and traffic. The point is to have as many ‘quality’ and ‘relevant’ inbound links as possible. For example, if you have a website that sells jewelry, and you get a link from a website that sells bananas, that’s not very relevant and the search engines won’t necessarily give you credit for that link. So think quality over quantity.
Link building can be done in several different ways, and because it can be difficult to get links to your website you may need to engage in all of these different tactics to achieve a good amount of links.
The best form of a link comes from a blog or an article who casually mentions your website. The best way to get these kind of links is to have your own blog, or to write great content on your own website. By having your own blog, you can link to other relevant bloggers in your industry. If others in your industry find that you have linked to them, they may give you a link back. If you’re writing a lot of great content on your website, people will find that article and pass it on to their friends, and your article is likely to be linked to from various relevant sources.
Another way to generate quality inbound links is to simply ask for them. If you do a search in Google, Yahoo or Bing you’ll find plenty of websites that are relevant to your own website. Some may be competitors which more than likely won’t give you a link because it would take away from their own business, but others could be directory websites or just websites with friendly people who are willing to give you a link anyway. Although this is a very manual way of getting links I have seen it work in the past and present.
One thing you need to make sure of before you go asking people for links is to make sure the website is relevant, but also look at their PageRank. PageRank is a number system that Google uses to rank websites based of quality and relevancy of their keywords. The higher the website’s PageRank, the higher the quality of the website. And if you get a link from a high quality website, that means if they link to your website they must think you’re pretty high quality too.
One great way to easily find high quality, high PageRank and relevant websites to request links from is from an SEOmoz pro membership tool called, the Juicy link finder. The juicy link finder allows you to type in a keyword or two in their search box, and they will find high quality, relevant websites that you could ask for a link from. The juicy link finder will list the top 50 – 200 websites related to your keyword. The tool also gives you the age of the domain and the PageRank of the domain so you can be picky at which websites you choose and only go for the sites that have that high PageRank first.
I have found it to be a very useful tool but it does require an SEOmoz pro membership (about $70/month) to use.
Either way you go, when requesting a link from another website or blogger it’s important to position yourself in a professional manner and explain why that website or blogger should link to you and how it can benefit them. You can and should read a SEOBoy.com article on how you shouldn’t request links from other websites and bloggers. And even more so you should read another SEOBoy.com article on how you should write a letter requesting links.
One other major thing to note, is that if you’re one of those companies that gets email from people in either the US but more likely in another country that says, ‘we can get you 1,000 high PageRank links for a low cost of $19.99’ or whatever the deal is, just remember what your parents taught you, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. These are called link farms. They build out collections of websites that all link to each other, then they just include your website in all of those websites. These companies don’t typically tell you which websites they have you linked to. Any company that isn’t transparent enough to show you what they’re doing and how they’re doing it probably isn’t the best thing.
As always, don’t forget about finding quality directories to get links from. Some are free and some are paid. Like Yahoo.com business directory and the Business.com directory are both around $250 – $299/year, but they contain a wide variety of topics and industries and have a very high PageRank and authority with the search engines, so getting a link from one of them is always a good thing. Of course there are always ways to find relevant directories that are free.
To recap, just remember when it comes to link building its quality over quantity. Getting links from a lot of irrelevant, low quality websites can actually hurt you and your SEO rankings. Don’t fall for anything or anyone that sounds too good to be true. If you have an agency or person managing your SEO, ask them for a list of websites that are linking to your website. If they know what they’re doing, they should be able to provide that to you in five minutes time!