Link building is a crucial part of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and it helps a website rank better in search queries. But just like Search Engine Optimization itself, link building has its rules to follow in order to avoid penalties from search engines like Google.
What Is Link Building in SEO?
Link building is the process of getting hyperlinks from other sites to your webpage, also known as backlinks. Links allow users to navigate between web pages on the internet. Google looks at the links between all websites on the internet to see the relevance and usefulness of content. The more backlinks you have, the higher the chances for a better ranking.
“If you went on vacation and asked three people (all completely unrelated to one another) what the best coffee shop in town was, and they all said, “Cuppa Joe on Main Street,” you would feel confident that Cuppa Joe is indeed the best coffee place in town. Links do that for search engines.”
– Writes MOZ
The same way, Google is asking websites which web page is the most relevant in the query. These websites answer Google by linking to other web pages. For instance, for the query ‘what is Link Building in SEO,’ we gave one vote to MOZ. The quote we used above describes the concept of backlinks in a very concise way, using a captivating comparison. And so, we linked to their website, meaning the article from MOZ has one more backlink! In the same way, you want more sites to link to your content so that you can increase the authority of your website.
Getting high-quality links is not a simple task to do, and it requires an investment of your time and energy to earn links from other websites. But the result of having backlinks is worth the effort.
Why Are Backlinks Important in SEO?
When users search using queries, search engines use different factors to rank web pages in the results. The principal goal of Google is to provide the most relevant results to users. The most crucial factor for ranking is the relevance of the content – that’s why you should create high-quality content, so Google has a reason to rank your web page. But relevance isn’t the only factor Google uses to provide search results. As we have already mentioned, among other elements, it looks at the number of links from other websites pointing to your page. If Google sees many pages are linking to yours, it means: 1) you have high-quality content 2) your content is relevant. Having more links will help your website rank better on search engines, and that’s why it’s crucial to include link-building in your SEO strategy.
In fact, including link-building in ranking factors is one of the elements that made Google stand out from other search engines.
“Links as a ranking factor are what allowed Google to start to dominate the search engine market back in the late 1990s.”
How It All Began
Google’s founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, while at Stanford University invented PageRank – the first algorithm of Google Search used for ranking pages. It measures the quality of a page by evaluating the quality and quantity of its backlinks. This metric became part of the overall ranking algorithm and is now a strong signal for Google.
The idea behind PageRank is that, when other websites link to yours, it’s because your page is a great resource and has helpful content. If it weren’t true, other pages wouldn’t link to yours.
But soon after the invention, many optimizers learned how to manipulate PageRank. Google, in response, started rolling out algorithm updates to filter websites that didn’t deserve to rank.
And that’s when rules came in.
The Primary Rule of Link-Building – Say ‘No’ to Link Schemes
If you are just learning about link schemes in this article, then it will be easier for you to get it out of your memory. But it’s an important rule to know, to avoid unintentionally manipulating PageRank. If you know about link schemes and have considered using them in your SEO strategy, you should cross it out of your mind, as it will probably do more harm for your website ranking than good.
Any links that aim to manipulate PageRank to improve a website’s ranking on Google violates Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.
Don’t Pay for Links Either with Money, Goods, or Services
There are different scenarios of link schemes. Some website owners might try to pay other sites in exchange for a link. Some offer goods or free services for backlinks. Some might also send free products in exchange for the recipient writing about it and then linking it to their website. All these methods violate Google’s Webmaster Guidelines and will result in a penalty.
Don’t Exchange Links
“I’ll link to you if you link to me” is when Google joins the conversation by saying, “I’ll drop your ranking.”
Don’t Use Automated Programs or Services to Create Links
Don’t use any service to create unnatural links, because this can lead to Google Penalties. Having a penalty from Google means your website’s ranking drops. This will be because of an algorithm update or because of a manual action – meaning human reviewers identified a violation. Penalties occur when website owners violate Google Webmaster Guidelines.
To put it in a nutshell, never try to manipulate the PageRank.
The best way to get more backlinks is to create high-quality content that will naturally acquire links from other sites. High-quality content should be the core of your SEO strategy.
Don’t Use Hidden Links
Some website owners have been trying to trick the search engine by hiding texts in the background. One example would be white text on the white background, with as many keywords as possible. Other times, they hide links in the background, pointing to the page they want to improve the ranking for. Sometimes they hide links behind images; they use the same color as the background, use font size 0, etc.
Don’t Harm Your Website Ranking with Too Many Press Release Links, Done Too Often
Press Releases are a way of distributing and announcing events to the press. According to Google, it is “an official statement issued to newspapers giving information on a particular matter.” The way it works is that you write the announcement about the event and distribute it to potentially interested news publishers. But website owners started abusing press releases to get more links from as many press release platforms as possible. Because these are so easy to manipulate, Google considers press release links a link scheme, according to Search Engine Journal.
If you need to post a press release, do it not for just getting a backlink, but post a press release that will attract the attention of a reporter.
“if you’re focusing on the right things, which are improving your business, website, services, or products and issue a press release focused on getting the media’s attention instead of grabbing a backlink, then press releases are more than worth it in 2019+.”
Write a Blog!
Writing a blog should be in your SEO strategy because it brings more readers to your site. And the more high-quality content you have, the better the chances you have to earn backlinks.
“Creating good content pays off: Links are usually editorial votes given by choice, and the more useful content you have, the higher the chances someone else will find that content valuable to their readers and link to it.”
Create Visual Data
The reason other websites link to yours is not always the text you have on your site. Sometimes, it’s visuals that attract other website owners. 80% of people remember what they see, compared to 20% of what they read. Humans process visuals faster, and that’s why infographics, pictures, and videos attract our attention. This is why you should consider creating infographics for statistics you share and the information you write about. That way, more websites who write about the same topic will link to your images. These links count as backlinks and improve your ranking.
Build Internal Links
Some website owners put a lot of effort into acquiring backlinks from other websites, but forget about the power of internal linking. Internal links help users navigate from page to page, and it helps establish the site architecture. Additionally, internal linking can send page authority to a page and boost its ranking.
Use Social Media
Social media signals and links don’t have the same importance for Google as backlinks from other sites.
“Social media links are “backlinks” but don’t have the direct, rank-influencing impact that other types of links do.”
– According to Rand Fishkin co-founder of MOZ
But this doesn’t mean social media won’t help your link-building strategy. If you have a social media account, you can share your content there. This means more people and more website owners will see it. The more people who see your content, the higher the chances of getting backlinks.
And finally, a great way to get more links is by contacting other websites and offering them to include your link in their content. Because sometimes, you do create a great piece of content, but these websites cannot find it. To address this, invest your time and energy into a successful SEO strategy. But also, as a part of your optimization strategy, why don’t you try reaching another website? The best way to contact other sites is by email.
If link building wasn’t part of your SEO strategy, we hope after reading this article, you have decided to use the power of backlinks. And, by following the rules of link-building, you can do it in a way that you don’t get penalties from Google.