In order to achieve the valuable, prized positions at the top of the Search Engine results pages there are many factors to consider. The first step must be to build a well designed website populated with high quality content that is attractive and useful to readers and easy for the Search Engines to process. Most Search Engine Optimization (SEO) experts would agree that the next biggest factor would be back-links. That is links to your website from other websites.
However all back-links are not created equal. They range from the extremely super valuable such as a link from the homepage of the Telegraph to the bad and even possibly harmful links. When we say harmful – well it would not be desirable to have a load of links to your site built by robots from spam sites, link farms, auto generated sites, questionable content or worse still sites holding malware. However Google say that they do not impose a penalty for poor links, instead they tend to ignore them so that they will not offer any benefit. If penalties were in place for poor quality back-links then it would be all too easy for unscrupulous web masters to create detrimental links in order to bring others down.
Of course you are not going to go out and generate links from malware sites and you would be extremely lucky if you manage to get a link straight from the Telegraph’s homepage. So in general, pretty much all of the links that you gain will come somewhere in between.
In order to get the most from your back-links, your campaign needs to take consideration of the following:
To prove the value of your site in the eyes of the Search Engines, links should be built gradually over time. That does not mean you should build them slowly, it means that they should be built consistently month after month. Imagine an amazing new website is built with fantastic content that is unique, relevant and constantly updated. This site would naturally draw many links to it and would continue to have more and more links posted to the site. This is the most desirable pattern of link building. If people stop linking to the site then the message this sends to the Search Engines is that the site is no longer relevant or interesting. This is the message people send when they add a bunch of links and are too busy to do the same the next month.
You don’t want links from spam sites and so-called “Attack Sites” – you want links from good neighbourhoods which are websites trusted by the Search Engines as authority sites. So if these sites trust you with a back-link then they are passing some of their own trust rank down to your site. Google also give each webpage something called a Page Rank. Links from sites that have a higher Page rank are often considered more valuable and will in turn pass some of the Page Rank down to your site. Having Page Rank will not mean that you automatically place higher than another site, but it is one factor that can help increase the authority of your site.
It is generally accepted that a link is more valuable when it is coming from a page which covers a similar topic. If the website that ranks highest on Google for the word shoes links to you then this suggests that your site is relevant to people who are interested in shoes. This is the main aim of the engines – to offer relevant content to the search key-word. If you happen to be trying to promote a site for a welder, well the link will still be valuable as it is coming from a highly ranked site but it will not be quite as useful as far as proving that your site is relevant to welding.
Closely related to relevancy is anchor text. This feature of a link tells the search engine what the link is about. The anchor text is just the piece of text that makes up the link. A poorly optimised but typical link would look like Click Here! A much better link anchor text would be: Welding Accessories which would suggest that your site is related to that key term.
Types of link
There are a wide range of different kinds of links including Internal, RSS, Contextual, Blog Comment links, Forum Profile links and Editorial. Links from Blog postings and Forum Profiles can easily be posted to other sites and can even be created by naughty Black-hat robots. The fact they can be easily made has the effect of reducing their value. However that is not to say they are worthless they certainly do have their place, particularly when coming from a trusted and relevant page plus they can add variety to your back-link profile. Editorial links are often considered the most valuable. The name explains exactly how these work, they are simply links that are part of the editorial content of a site. Hence such a link will suggest your site is relevant to the content being published and that it is trusted as an authority on the subject by the author.