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18 May 2010

Link Building and Internal Linking: A Tutorial for Beginners

Link building is the process of attracting inbound links to your website. It’s a difficult, time-consuming process – a recent survey revealed that search marketers find it to be the single most annoying, challenging task on their plates.  

Annoying or not, link building is necessary to achieve high organic search rankings. In this tutorial, we’ll take a look at:
  • Why link building is important.
  • How it works.
  • How you can build links efficiently and cheaply.
Why Do You Need to Build Links?
Link building is important because inbound links are a major factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. According to Google, “Webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites that link to their pages.”
Let’s say you own a wind turbine equipment business. Your site, obviously, competes with another wind turbine equipment manufacturers. One of the factors that determines the relative position of your rankings is link popularity.
Link Building
This is an oversimplified depiction of how search engine rankings work, of course. It omits several key factors:
  • The trust and authority of the linking sites
  • The anchor text of the incoming links
  • Whether or not the links are reciprocal
And a number of other factors. Your own site also needs to be optimized, content-wise and structurally. But in general, more incoming links increase your chances of strong search engine rankings for your target keywords.
Link Building 101: How to Get Sites to Link to You
Your link building strategy can and should include several different methods:
  • Content Creation & Promotion – You’re more likely to get links if you create link-worthy content: compelling, high-quality, unique pages that people will want to read and reference. But don’t stop there. You need to tell your intended audience about your content. No one can link to it if they don’t know it exists.
  • Submissions – You can write and submit press releases announcing company news, as well as submit your site to online directories.
  • Reviews – Tell influential bloggers about your site and your products. Reviews or other mentions on popular, high-authority sites not only drive traffic, they improve your rankings. (Ideally, the sites will be relevant to your space.)
  • Links from Friends & Partners – Ask people you know and work with to link to your site. Don’t be shy!
These tips for developing inbound links to your website do have a couple of disadvantages:
  1. These methods are time-consuming – Building high-quality content and attracting quality links takes time. And it requires additional resources, such as good copywriters and social media and PR experience.
  2. These methods depend on variables you can’t control – You can’t fully control the quality of the pages that link to you, the language they use to write about your offerings, or which pages on your site they link to.
So what can you do in the meantime, while you’re building quality links?
A Faster, Easier Alternative to Link Building
There is a way to build links to your pages without waiting for the world to meet your needs.
Let’s review the linking factors that affect your rankings:
  • Anchor Text – One of the most important things search engines take into account in ranking a page is the actual text that third parties use when they link to your content. When someone links to the Good Guys Wind Turbine Parts site with the anchor text “wind turbine parts,” it help you rank for that keyword phrase. Conversely, if they had used text like “Good Guys LLC,” you’d lose the ranking advantage for the “wind turbine parts” keyword.
  • Quality of the Linking Page – Another factor is the quality of the page that is sending the link; links from high-quality, trusted pages carry more weight in boosting search engine rankings than questionable pages and sites.
  • Location of the Linked Page– Often sites will link to your home page by default. This makes it difficult for deeper pages to achieve high rankings.
You don’t have control, ultimately, over the above elements when it comes to third-party links. However, you can control all those elements when doing internal linking – linking to your own pages from other pages on your site.
With internal linking you can:
  • Determine what keywords to use in your anchor text.
  • Decide which pages to link to.
  • Control the quality of the linking page.
Building external links to your site is important, but a strong internal linking strategy will also provide a big boost to your rankings.
Internal Link Building Tips
So how do you go about building internal links? Here are a few tips to consider when interlinking your pages:
  • Do Your Keyword Research Use a good keyword suggestion tool to find keywords that are relevant to your business and have promising search volume.
  • Assign Keywords to Content – Group your keywords into an organized, meaningful taxonomy to help create an SEO-friendly site architecture.
  • Use Targeted Anchor Text for Internal Links – Apply your keyword research as you connect your pages. When you create new content, use your site search to find relevant content that should link back to it.
Ultimately, the best way to attract incoming links is to clean up your own backyard. When your site is well-optimized and your keywords are effectively targeted, you’ll find it much easier to develop a string of relevant, trusted, rank-boosting links.
 
About the Author: Tom Demers is the director of marketing at WordStream Inc., a provider of advanced PPC tools and SEO software for researching, organizing and grouping large numbers of keywords. WordStream also offers a FREE keyword tool for conducting keyword research and analysis.

 

3 Comments

  • verticalmeasures May 19, 2010

    Thanks for the comment! In most cases reciprocal link requests are spit out by computers/robots just looking for that one person to reply and then a real person will respond in most instances. Your question about article writing: content marketing helps, but shouldn't be the only method you use to build links. If you are hiring a writer, they get paid and you get the content. If you are the writer, you get a link for your efforts of putting together a good piece of content.

  • Laura May 19, 2010

    I get about 6 requests for reciprocal links every day. Are people actually reading my content, or are there robots that just spit out these request?
    And does article writing really help? The website obviously get free content.But what does the writer get?
    Your thoughts are appreciated.

  • Sandra Dec 29, 2011

    Thanks for this great article. I liked the way you explained how new businesses can start creating internal links and how they can get other websites to link to their sites, it really gives some insight to those who want to learn a bit more about seo marketing. Looking forward to your new posts.