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Link Building Fundamentals, Strategies and Resources

Before we go to Link Building and everything about it, let us briefly discuss the search engines. A search engine is a website designed to collect and organize content from the Internet. Google, Yahoo, and Bing are examples of search engines.

For example, you, as the Internet user, type a word (which we will call a keyword) in the search tab of Google and the search engine will rank the web pages accordingly. As much as we want to keep things simple by just that, truth is the search engines just don’t magically rank the web pages randomly. That’s what we are going to find out.

A search engine has 4 major functions:

  • Crawling – the search engine crawls thousands and possibly millions of webpages so that it can appear whenever a user performs a search
  • Building an index – after a webpage gets crawled, it will be index in the same category as webpages similar to it. They will all be stored in massive hard drives so that they can be recalled when there is a query. However, the amount of data to be indexed has become huge, so the hard drives are separated into different data centers, so that when there is a query the search engine can recall a webpage immediately.
  •  Calculating relevancy and ranking – One reason why search engines rank websites accordingly in a particular search is because they want to give the best results to the search engine user. That’s why relevancy and ranking are affected by one factor – popularity. The more people trying to access a website, the more likely it will have a higher pager rank.
  • Serving results – the search engines want to serve results fast and useful to the search engine user.

All search engines go by this basic process when conducting search processes, but because there are differences in search engines, there are bound to be different results depending on which engine you use.

When a person searches for something online it requires the search engines to do just things:

  • Return only those results that are relevant or useful to the searcher’s query.
  • Rank those results in order of perceived value or importance.

It is both relevance and importance that the process of search engine optimization is meant to influence.

Relevance means more than having a page with the words you searched for prominently displayed. Search engines interpret importance as popularity – the more popular a site, page or document the more valuable information contained therein must be.  And how do search engines primarily measures relevance, value, and popularity? – Links.

What is a link in the simplest term?

Let us say we go to a website and there is a specific word there that when you click will direct you to another site. That word “links” the particular website to the other site. Links are what connects websites to other sites. It is also the way for search engines to gauge what website is relevant for a specific search query. Let us examine first the importance of links

Why are links important?

First, there are two kinds of links:

  • Internal Links – links found in the website that link to specific pages or content of that website.
  • External Links –
    • Outbound Links – Links from the website that links to webpages that are not part of the website
    • Inbound Links – Links found in the internet (in other websites and webpages) that link back to the website

The value of links can be determined based on two things

  • Link Quantity – the number of links
  • Link Quality – How relevant, important, and popular the links are

Imagine if one word or phrase from a specific website links back to your website. Not an issue right? Now imagine, hundreds of websites having a single phrase or two on them linking back to your site, what will search engines think of your website?

  • The more the website has links connecting to it, the higher the chance that many people will click that link and land on your website.
  • If many people click on those links and lands on your sites, the search engines will think that your site is popular.
  • The more the site becomes popular, the more search engines will think that your site is relevant and credible. It means that other websites trust your website because they link back to you.

What is Link Building?

Link Building is an SEO process wherein search engine optimizers artificially create links in a way that it will appear natural to the search engines. These people will create and submit content (which has a link that connects to the website) through various methods such as article submissions and blog creations which will be discussed later. For now, let us just think of link building as a method of producing content in the Internet which has a link back to the website.

The Benefits of Link Building

  • It improves Organic Search Engine Rankings – When a person types a keyword, there is the organic search and the paid search. Link Building can make the website rank up in the organic search. And people generally think of paid search as bias. So it will look very natural if the website is high above the search engine’s organic search.
  • It is a good technique for Flash Websites – Flash websites cannot be read properly by search engine spidersWhat appears to be a beautiful flash page to a user is just a blank a webpage to the spider. What’s worse is that sometimes the spider will just think that the flash site is just a link site. Link Building can allow inbound links to the flash website, making it a good way of SEO-ing the site.
  • It can result in high ROI in the long run. Investing in SEO may seem quite costly for someone, but the results can even outweigh what one previously invested for it.
  • Generate Brand Awareness and Recognition – Link building means putting links from various websites that will link back to the site. All these websites’ visitors will see the links and possibly click on them – hence establishing brand awareness.

So how are we going to build links?

Good question, in fact there are a lot of ways. By now you have a pretty good idea of what links are and why they are important, so it’s time to actually build them.

Directory Submissions

Online directories exist for the sole purpose of providing links to web users to various sites categorized under relevant topics. Submit your website to various directories and if your website gets accepted, voila! A new link has been built!

Steps in Directory Submission

*note: the above process may be in a different order in other directories.

When you submit to a directory under a particular category, you allow the search engine to categorize your site under a relevant topic. This is particularly important if your website is full of images or is made of Flash. Flash cannot be crawled by search engine spiders so your best bet is to build links for your Flash website.

Press Releases

Publishing press releases on the web is one great way of going about the successful publicity of your site. This is something that more people may prefer reading because it contains useful information that people would want to know about an online business or a new product or service that just came around lately.

And because the purpose of press releases is to announce newsworthy events or updates, it should contain a number of necessary information that its readers would look for.

Article Submission

Write articles relevant to your website’s niche, sign up with article submission sites, and then submit your article.

The thing with article submission is that if you are just one person, you cannot do a lot of articles a day (assuming it’s not your job) and what’s more, if you just focus on article submission, you can only build fewer links that when you do blog commenting and forum postings.

On the bright side, it is your way of sharing your expertise. Imagine if a lot of people viewed and read your article at a specific website – they will naturally go to your site and find out more about your content. They key is always quality, which is after all, more important in the eyes of the search engines.

Blog and Blog Commenting

  • Choose a Blog Platform (Blogger, WordPress, Typepad, etc.)
  • Set up a blog related to your website or niche
  • Write blog postings
  • Repeat the process daily or weekly

The key with blogs is that you should always update it. They are an excellent source of traffic since it is not stagnant like most static websites out there. A simple way of getting traffic is to comment on other blogs as well. In that way, people can see your link, and there is a chance that they will click the link back to your site because you posted a relevant comment in theirs.

Forum

Forum is an online discussion site. It is a place where people can post messages and respond to each other. Forums are  also known as bulletin board or message board. Forums are an yet another excellent resource of information that you can often not find anywhere else in the web. It is the right place where you will get relevant information related to your needs. Many of the websites receive a very high amount of traffic and are a huge opportunity for whatever niche your site may fall into. By making an effective signature link for each your posts, you can see an drastic increase in our backlinks and also traffic. This traffic is often highly targeted.

Social Bookmarking

The term social bookmarking refers to sharing and optimized documenting of link lists to useful information. Social bookmarking sites are ideal for promoting websites, as they offer great exposure and relevant traffic, which helps to increase the website’s search engine rankings.

The main objective of social bookmarking a website is to reach out to a global audience. By sharing your site within the domain of internet, you can actually increase the possibility of more visitors. The basic idea of social bookmarking with regards to SEO is similar to the concept of adding a website to a web browser. It is a platform where you can publish, categorize as well as share your bookmarks with other internet users.

Social Networking

Social networking is a grouping of individuals into specific groups, of their interest. It allows people to express their individuality and meet people with similar interest.

Many social networking sites allow you to enter a link back to your website in your profile on their site, like we can say that LinkedIn, Digg and many other offer good SEO opportunities. And one thing that you should remember is that you should participate in these communities on a regular basis because the more you are participating the more popular your profile will become, which will help in your SEO efforts.

1.    You post your links.
2.    People follow those links and read what you’ve written/posted.
3.    Of those people who liked your post/article/idea, some will talk about it and add a link to your site where the information is.
4.    The new links will generally have a “follow all” tag, telling the crawlers to follow them.
5.    Those inbound links will bring in organic traffic and add authority to your site, which, in turn, will raise your search engine result positioning and Page Rank.

Guest Blogging  can be a great way to help build up your brand, earn recognition, and even get some great links back to your site.

Sample Google Guest Post Query:

  1. guest post
  2. “guest post”
  3. “about the author”
  4. “write for us”
  5. “blog for us”
  6. “guest blog for us”
  7. “guest blogger”
  8. guest blogger
  9. guest contributor
  10. “guest contributor”

So now you know how to distribute links in the Internet. These links generally, when clicked, will make the user land into your website. But how do we classify these links? How can these links become more valuable? What are the link-building schemes a search engine optimizer can perform?

One Way Link Building

One way links happen in such a way that one site (site a) has a link to another site (site b) in such a way that site b has no link back to site a. This method of link building is valuable in the eyes of the search engines because they will not think that you exchange links with the other site (obviously.)

2 Way Link Building

In 2 Way Link Building, both websites are link to each other. This means that site a has a link to site b while site b also has a link to side a. This is called reciprocal linking and this, naturally, establishes relationship between the to sites that are link to each other.

3 Way Link Building

This is quite different. In 3 way link building, 3 websites are link to each other in such a way that not one of them has a link that goes back to the site that links to it. This can be explained clearly by looking at the diagram below:

In the example above website A has a link to website B. Website B is not link to A but rather has a link to C. Website C does not link back to B but rather to website A. That is 3 way link building.

In order for this to be successful, one trick is that all 3 websites have different IP address. The search engines can find if all 3 websites are hosted/posted from only one IP, which will make the link building appear artificial. We don’t want that to happen.

Link Baiting

Unique in this manual is an additional guide on how to properly do link baiting. This is something that will make your website visitors to naturally link back to your site, or make them click on a link in your site; hence it’s called a bait – something interesting enough to catch people’s attention. There are ways to do this.

The Types of Link Bait

  • Informational hooks – a hook that provides information that is very useful to the point that the reader might think he can help others by sharing it to his website or his Facebook page.
  • News – especially if your are the first one to break the news, people will share a link of your website to their network of friends in the Internet, all because of your breaking news.
  • Humor hooks – whether it is a joke or a funny picture or a gag, people generally share this kinds of things in their network of friends.
  • Evil Hooks – write something bad about something and people will link your website or article to their network of friends so that all of them can counter your argument or downright hate you. The evil hook may be a low score of a critically acclaimed video game or something personally offensive to a majority of people, whatever it is, your link bait is successful because people go to your site because of the evil hook.
  • Widget Hook – a badge, a plugin or an image that can be put into another website, which will then link back to your site.
  • Resource hook – when you link to a site that serves as your resource in your article, you are creating a resource hook. This is particularly effective when a big site in your industry links to your website as resource for the information the big site has on its site.

What makes up a link bait?

There are elements to a successful link bait which this manual details as the following:

  • Header – this should be strong enough to catch people’s attention and make them read the content.
  • Information – you should make a strong copy (strong appealing words) that can entice the readers to read all the way down to your hook.
  • Visuals – accompany your link bait with a relevant and catchy picture. Visuals along with the header can create a strong initial impression.
  • The Unexpected Hook – this is the copy that triggers people to link to your site or click your link. This should be creative and very catchy as everything lay on this.
  • Contact list or share Button – the share button right after the hook can make the readers to link your site immediately.

Link Bait can be an essential tool in link building since it is not enough to build links alone. Remember that when people click on your links, it will make your site (the site where the link will land) appear more valuable and relevant to the search engines.

Link Building Strategy

Link building is a tough job. It’s not only hard work, but there are so many pitfalls on the way to achieve the “perfect” link.

The following are link building strategies

Perform thorough keyword research

Increasing your chances of ranking well on Google starts with finding the best keywords to target. This process – keyword research – is a crucial part of SEO, as targeting the wrong keywords can result in a wasted effort, because you will not rank well for the areas that you really wanted to.

The Adwords Keyword Tool is a useful tool for assisting in keyword research, as it offers suggestions for possible keywords. You can enter as many keywords as you like, and the tool will generate statistics detailing how many search queries have matched this keyword over the last month. These keywords must be set to an exact match type, as otherwise it is not a good reflection on the keyword phrases that are actually being searched.

When choosing keywords, it is important to consider the following points:

  • The traffic for the keyword – by using the Adwords Keyword Tool, we can determine how much traffic these keywords have generated in recent months, and base our predictions for the success of a keyword on these statistics.
  • The chance a keyword has of converting – Keyword research means that we can find the keywords that best describe the product/service we are targeting. It is important to choose keywords that best describe what a company is offering to improve the chances of converting, and avoid mis-leading potential customers.
  • Keyword competition – Some keywords may have good search volume but are simply too competitive a keyword to target. This is measured by the number of competitors present when searching for a keyword in Google, the strength of those competitors’ links and the nature of the industry they are operating in. This needs to be considered when researching potential keywords.
  • By considering these points when carrying out your keyword research, you can ensure that you are targeting the best terms for your business, and have a better chance of ranking well on Google.

Write quality, well-optimized content.

A well written content is important for three primary reasons:

  • Engages the reader
  • Increases search engine rankings and traffic
  • Promotes the likelihood of quality links from other sites

We need to focus on quality content more so than just SEO terms. The fact of the matter is, quality content is not just something your readers want and expect to have, but it is also something that the search engines are learning from.

The key is to write quality content that relates to your readers. Instead of packing keywords with just basic information, provide quality content. Be sure that you avoid over stuffing your website with keywords. Focus less on density and more on quality content. In the end, that is what matters the most when it comes to improving your website’s functionality and search engine rankings.

 Look at your Competitor’s Links

The competitors rank above you because of their links. That’s why it is important to take a closer look at these links. It is always good to know which websites link to your competitors and which anchor texts they are using, because you can use these websites as another possible link source. You should keep in mind that competitors are not only other companies, but also could be governments, industry hubs, news and so on.

Evaluate the backlinks of your competitors and try to analyze their patterns. Judge the quality and strength of them and then just go after them

Compare the Backlinks of your Competitors

  • Explore links across an industry and snatch the common, most essential backlinks from your competition.
  • Find common backlinks of your competitors.

If you want to rank in the top ten it is inevitable to find similarities between you and the companies already ranking for your keyphrase. Every single common backlink is definitely a link that you should try to get to your own website. In the picture above you can see that A and F are common backlinks for the competitors 1,2 and 3. Therefore you must try to get a backlink from A or F. In the best case you get a backlink from both of them. In principle this is the concept of good neighborhood. If a web page links to a top ranking website, you will also be seen in the top ranks if you have a backlink from this web page.

Link Building Terminologies

  • Outbound Link – A hyperlink which directs from your website to another website. This shameless SEO copywriting link, for example, is an outbound link which directs from this page to my main business site.
  • Inbound Link – A hyperlink which directs to your website from another website. For example, I got an inbound link as part of my new Local First membership.
  • Anchor Text – The text that is used to hyperlink to another web page. Sometimes anchor text is the same as the website URL but ideally it’s composed of actual words
  • Link Building – The SEO practice of gathering more inbound links to your website in order to help boost your website’s rankings in search engines. Good link building also boosts referrals from other sites and, ideally, helps to build brand awareness in relevant industry circles.
  • Link Baiting– The term used when one creates content specifically for goal of getting others to link to that content.
  • One way links– These are links where one site points to another without a link on the other site pointing back.
  • Social Bookmark– A bookmark of a website that is made available to others socially. Often used for link building.
  • Social Media– Social media is media designed to be disseminated through social interaction, created using highly accessible and scalable publishing techniques. Some types of social media are forums, message boards, blogs, wikis and podcasts.
  • Adwords– Google’s primary advertising network that generates much of its revenue and profit. Adwords are the paid ads that appear on search engine result pages.
  • Banner Ad– An advertising banner (most often graphic) displayed on site to advertise another website or service.
  • Blog– A blog (short for web log) is an online journal or diary of an individual or groups opinions and latest news that is updated regularly, in chronological order. Many blogs allow visitors to make comments, or “postings” in response to the blogger, or ask questions.
  • Bookmarks– Most browsers come with the ability to bookmark your favorite pages. Many web based services have also been created to allow you to bookmark and share your favorite resources. Sites such as Del.icio.us & Digg are Social Bookmark sites.
  • Directory- A directory is list of web sites categorized into appropriate categories.