Changes to Google’s algorithm over the past year mean that link-building isn’t just about quantity anymore – it’s about quality, too. Many SEO strategists have had to change their methods to adapt.
What is Link-Building?
In forming rankings (and deciding who gets the top spots), Google places a lot of emphasis on the number of links leading back to a website. These links, called backlinks, have a lot of influence in moving a website further up in Google’s rankings. Link-building is one of the pillars of an SEO campaign: by placing new backlinks around the internet that lead back to the client’s website, an internet marketing agency can bring a site from “unranked” status on a given keyword to the number-one spot.
Links can be built in one of two formats:
- As a URL, such as http://www.newwavemktg.com/blog
- As an anchor text link, such as internet marketing blog
While a URL definitely has value in search engine rankings, an anchor text link is even more valuable. By using keywords relevant to the client’s campaign (like “internet marketing blog”) and linking that keyword with the same URL each time, SEO wizards can encourage Google to associate that website with that keyword. So when someone searches “internet marketing blog” in Google, our blog is more likely to come up.
The other strategy associated with link-building involves the websites on which backlinks are placed. Old link-building techniques frequently revolved around link-trading, where two website admins would agree to place links to each other’s sites. This required many hours of emailing and responding. Often, links would be placed on completely irrelevant sites – for example, the admin of a car rental service directory would place a link to a dermatology clinic. Many sites used to build links this way just appear “spammy,” both to humans and to Google.
How Link-Building Has Changed
To combat this link spam, Google changed its algorithm over the past year to discredit websites that crowd a page with too many links or accept link-stuffed articles. It’s also now giving considerably less credit to links placed on sites that are irrelevant to the client’s website – so a link on a dermatology blog will offer more “link juice” than that car rental directory. It’s also placing more emphasis on content, meaning that articles and blog posts need to come with those links. This means that today’s SEO experts need a more targeted set of skills, namely writing.
Articles should contain no more than one link for every 110 words, and they can be placed on relevant blogs, news websites, and article resources with a high page rank (note, however, that Google has also been cracking down on “content farm” websites loaded with spam articles for the sole purpose of placing links). Google’s algorithm continues to evolve and become more sophisticated, and SEO campaign managers keep changing their strategy to adapt and keep their clients’ sites at the top.