Let’s talk about links.
Why are they important and how should they be utilized?
Let’s take a brief look at the history of key components that make whole internet marketing business work.
Before Google came to be, there were other players in the game like Yahoo and Alta Vista. Their ranking system was solely based on what appeared in the content of each page. More specifically, keywords were the key factor that decided your place in search results.
A system like that was open for dirty exploitation. For example, stuffing keywords for which people wanted to rank for and still gain a positive effect at ranking.
People were creating pages and pages of content, that just wasn’t enjoyable to read. Same keywords were included just everywhere.
So even if a post sounded unnatural and generally unreadable, it would still rank high in the search results. Solely because of how many times a certain keyword was used.
It was a golden age for black hat marketers, whose goals were only to get ads and offers in the face of as many people as they could reach, by any means necessary.
Then Google came along and changed the game. At least a little bit in the beginning anyway.
Google utilized the PageRank algorithm that added another key component, that influenced the ranking system as a whole. They brought links into the game.
PageRank algorithm, named after one of Google’s founders Larry Page, is an algorithm that gives a rough estimate of how important each website is. It takes a look at the quality of links to measure that importance.
Anyone can inspect how it works under the hood freely on the web, but to comprehend it in its entirety, you will need to have some technical knowledge.
Google has come a long way since PageRank was first introduced to the world. They’ve unleashed another algorithm called Penguin in 2012.
This one was able to detect if you were trying to cheat the system by buying links or acquiring them in any other unnatural way.
You could no longer create a false popularity that would pay off on the long run. In 2017, Penguin became a part of Google’s core algorithm.
Where do links matter most?
They are in our navigation menu, sidebar, footer, content or in various widgets we choose to pin at each post. Related posts or recommended posts would be a perfect example of such widgets.
Every link has its own unique weight when it come to SEO.
It’s true that links in the navigation menu and footer appear on nearly every page of the website, but this doesn’t mean that they will give you any sort of great value through their quantity.
So where do links shine the brightest?
It’s in the content itself.
Another thing that’s worth pointing out is, where should we use links for better engagement and SEO score results. We’re talking about, if we should put a link on an image or text.
When we put a link on an image, Googles crawler will choose its alt attributes text for the anchor text. And that is only visible if you hover over an image or if there’s some kind of problem with loading the image and website doesn’t end up loading it, this text will be shown in its place.
So rather linking from an image, I think It’s a better idea to put a link on a keyword inside the content. A reader will be able to get a better impression what’s waiting for him on the other side and you can reserve alt attribute spaces for specific keywords.
Ye be warned
When links got super important in SEO, people wanted to take advantage of them like they did before with keywords.
But if you try to link to the same address on multiple links throughout the page, you won’t get any super awesome results. This is because only the first link will be acknowledged (from the line of links that point to the same page, that is).
Types of links
We can classify three different types of links, based on from where they are linking to. We have internal, inbound and outbound links.
Internal links are those, that link solely within a single website.
For instance, we create a blog post, in which we create a link that points to another blog post within the same blog. That’s called an internal link.
Inbound links are those, which people create on some other websites that point back to yours. For example, we write a comment on a forum website in which we insert a link that leads back to our website. A more common name for this type of link is a backlink.
And lastly, outbound links are links that point from your website to another website.
How to accumulate links of all types?
There’s no doubt about it, links are the number one factor that influences SEO scores of all sites.
With numerous sophisticated algorithms, Google made it possible to accurately assess the quality of content, links and websites as a whole.
We’ve mentioned different types of links before, but why exactly do we need to classify them that way anyway?
One of the main reasons is, that there are different methods to accumulate these types of links.
Let’s take a look at internal links. Internal links are as important as every other type of links. Because they can create bridges between blog posts on your website. And because we, humans are naturally curious beings, we want to see what’s behind the next door we come across unexpectedly.
So these internal type of links will make people stay longer on your website. They will consequently produce more page visits per session and because of that, your website will rank higher in search engine result page (SERP).
So what exactly makes an internal link great?
Most important part of linking is our anchor text. This is the text we choose to make clickable.
When we choose to highlight a certain phrase or keyword in our blog post to create a link, we need to take into account what will that text say.
There are generic types of phrases like click here, which worked out in the past fairly well. It has a call to action and we can usually expect where it’s going to lead us from the context of content surrounding it.
But that’s an old habit and honestly, there are much better ways to get someone to click on your link than just ordering them around.
So what do I think is the best way to send someone through a link?
I think, it’s best to leave that decision to the reader. We can just link a keyword directly from our content, from which the reader can make out where that link may lead them.
How to influence quality of a link?
You will be rewarded by ranking system only if people are satisfied by the content they’re receiving. And that satisfaction can be measured by the dwell time and activity on each site. So you don’t want to create a super promising link to a candy land of a web page, if there’s nothing on the other end to show for it.
Basically, we should create links that point to content that relevant to the keyword we’re highlighting.
How would you go about getting those you ask?
As we mentioned before that building links of all kinds is important, but these types are the ones we have the least control over of all three.
Honestly, there aren’t any special techniques to accumulate such links. Publishing quality content and engaging in communities that work inside the niche you’re writing about. If you stick to these two “methods”, you will do just fine.
Many people try and get as many backlinks as possible writing on forums just for spreading links to their websites. Thinking quantity over quality will help their SEO score, but in fact it’s quite the opposite.
Having a huge amount of low quality links will actually hurt your SEO score.
So experts often invest into getting fewer, but higher quality backlinks. This also proved itself a sound strategy on the long run.
We’ve talked about links that are just all about us. But for any prospering business, we need to consider others as well.
I’m not talking about the customers, but those whom you might consider a competition or a peer in your niche space.
When we create a link on our website linking to another website, we call an outbound link.
It’s important to connect with other people and websites, because once you start helping each other, you will be able to reach people you wouldn’t be able otherwise.
And it’s not only the matter of helping other bloggers by connecting your audiences with their content.
Internet is a vast space of connected websites. So by connecting with other blogs will help your SEO score as well.