1. What is Link building?
Links are what connects all of the various entities in the web together and they are what enable us to find information and take actions online. You’ll often hear digital marketing people like us talk about link building in relation to getting more exposure for your website in the search rankings. But what do we really mean? When we talk about link building, we’re looking for links from other websites to yours, the idea being that if another entity thinks your site is worth linking to, it gives you some credibility with Google and the other major search engines.
Link building is one of the elements of an online marketing strategy. It’s a way to promote your brand and just like any other form of marketing, the more people have heard of you, the more likely they are to trust you.
2. Are directory links a good thing?
Having incoming links to your site is a good thing. However “link building” has been misused so much in the past, that these days you need to be really careful. Several years ago, Google started using the number of incoming links to your website as a factor in it’s ranking algorithm, i.e. the more links you had, the more valued your site was. Unfortunately this gave rise to 1000’s of “link directories” which were set up purely for the purpose of building links. Many of these directories were of not practical use to anyone, so no longer have any positive effect and can in fact work against you, if Google thinks that you have been deliberately creating or buying links just for the sake of it. There are some good directories out there and the acid test really is whether the directory is one which people would actually use and whether it is relevant to your and your business – in other words, links are there primarily for people to follow to get information, and if you have a link on a website which no-one is likely to use, it’s probably not doing you much good. There are several good quality directories out there, but take care to evaluate them before signing up for either a free or a paid listing.
3. What are the best type of links to get?
The best types of links are those you generate because other websites see value in your business, or in a specific article you might have written, so they will link to you for the benefit of their site visitors – without you even asking for the link. This is often referred to as link earning or natural links.
Creating informative, shareable, content for your website is a great way to generate “natural” links but you may still need to promote that, using social media for example, otherwise no-one will know that it’s there. Content marketing and link building go hand in hand in this sense, for the overall promotion of your brand.
4. What’s the difference between “follow” and “no-follow” links?
Links from one website to another will generally be followed by search engines like Google, unless instructed otherwise. This “following” process is what gives your website additional credibility. However it is possible to tell search engines not to follow all or specific links, through the inclusion of no-follow tags. Directory links are often “no-follow” and most social media links are “no-follow” too. So do no-follow links provide value? Yes, we think so, by giving you exposure, particularly if people follow the links and view your website. It’s also possible that search engines recognise the fact that you’re being mentioned on other sites, regardless of the link. Social shares count as a “vote” for your brand and website, so are worth getting.
5. How to measure a “good” link
There are several technical metrics like, domain authority and page authority, that SEO professionals like us look at, but not all are relevant to all links or all businesses. In many cases you can take a view on this yourself, for example consider whether the website looks professional, and is it a useful resource for people visiting it? Does the page that your link would be on have some relevance to you and would site visitors find the link useful? Will people want to click it and will they find what they expect to find if they do?
6. Can “bad” links be harmful?
Unfortunately, following the introduction of Google’s Penguin algorithm, yes they can, and you may have bad links in your profile which you aren’t aware of. When conducting an incoming link review for our clients, we use a number of different tools to uncover as many links as possible, but you can make a start by looking in your Google Search Console (previously called Webmaster Tools) where you will see a sample. If you see anything in there which you don’t recognise, it might be worth having a full link review. If you do have a number of poor quality links your first step should be to try and get them removed. Sometimes this is easier said than done –
contact us for more advice on how to clean up a poor link profile.