The SEO Series – Everything you need to know about Links

14 06 2010

Most people implementing SEO have a love/hate relationship with links. We love a good link but we hate what it takes to get them. At best, link building is time consuming and tedious. At worst, it’s the thing that drives good SEOs to ‘Black Hat SEO’. Building links is the one thing most SEOs don’t want to do, and very few can do it well. Show me a link builder that can get 100 PR4+ one-way links and I’ll show you 100 barely readable blog posts on 100 barely readable blogs.

I’m not bitter, but I haven’t found a quality link builder that isn’t out of most people’s price range. I think this is the case with many SEOs, which is why most of the affordable link builders deliver what they can for the price, which is why the link quality tends to be sub-par. As for the link builder’s who’s rates are unaffordable – well, you can’t afford not to use them. See? Love/Hate relationship!

Links are the motorways of the web; without links, no-one would be able to navigate, move from place to place, or from one site to the next. The only way to find anything on the internet without using links is by directly typing the URL into the URL address bar.

In SEO terms, the simplest meaning for a link is that it’s a vote for the web page it leads to. It’s a lot more complicated than that, but for now that definition will suffice. If you like something, you link to it.  If someone likes you, hopefully they’ll link to you.

Links spread like word of mouth; if you have something worth telling, or linking to, then more people will spread the word via their sites, blogs, or Facebook. The easiest way to get links is to have something worth linking to; which involves some hard work!

Apart from providing a way to navigate through the web, links provide a way for the visitor (and search engines) to know what any page is about before they even click on it. Or, at least, they should.

Far too often, I see links that say ‘Click here’. Sure, it tells the visitor what to do, but it doesn’t explain why they should be clicking the link. The reader will likely be forced to read around the link, just to understand it. That’s not a problem for people who read a webpage word for word, but unfortunately, these are an endangered species!

Most people skim pages, simply looking for something that will interest them. Obviously, a link will stand out from ordinary text; so you don’t want to say ‘Click Here’, you want to say ‘Click Here for …….’. If you do this, the link will catch their attention, and they won’t have to read around it to know roughly what the link will take them to.

The Search Engines use this as a signal toward analysing the topic of a page. If people link to a single page using words such as ‘pre-owned vehicles’, ‘buy Mazda’ and ‘low mileage cars’, then the search engine gets a pretty good idea as to what’s included on the page. The more content links pointing to a page, the more the Search Engine can glean what the page is about.

The search engine can match up the links with the content for additional relevancy and ranking factors. Not to mention the visitor looking to buy a Mazda knows that licking the link likely gets them to the information they need.

I hope you enjoyed this post; keep your eyes peeled for the next one!

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