An important segment of your search engine optimization is building links to and from your website. Each of your web pages should contain links that point within your own website, along with links that are directed to other strategic and pertinent websites. In addition, other websites should ideally link to your site in order to help build a higher search engine ranking.
However, building such a network requires you to take great care in choosing only outgoing links that help your website and your visitors, as well as securing incoming links from quality websites.
Building Beneficial Outgoing Links
Becoming a valuable, “authority” site in the eyes of the search engines is an important SEO goal. While inbound links are important, outgoing links to relevant, quality websites also enhance your SEO.
Provide Valuable and Relevant Resources
Quality over quantity is the philosophy for building outbound links. While you do want a moderate amount of outgoing links, it is highly important to ensure that these links point to relevant, quality, and authoritative websites. For example, linking to news articles on CNN or Time that are relevant to your readers is beneficial, but pointing to spam, adult, or simply irrelevant sites can hurt you.
Carefully Consider Link Exchanges
You may be approached by other websites asking for outbound links. In many cases, the favor is returned with a reciprocal link. If you want to participate in a link exchange, be sure that the outgoing link is only to a quality website that would be relevant to your readers. If your website is focused on home design, exchanging links with a car dealership will not benefit your SEO efforts. Keep your readers in mind when you are considering link exchanges, and if the content is relevant for your human readers, chances are the search engines will like the outbound link as well.
The outgoing link doesn’t have to be on your front web page either. You can include an entire web page to outgoing links to other resources, or even write a blog posting about the website to which you are linking. In any case, always ensure that you are providing your visitors with interesting and quality third party resources.
Building Effective Incoming Links
As part of the SEO algorithm, your website’s ranking is partially determined by how many websites link to yours. The more quality websites that link to your website, the higher you are considered an “authority” on the web, and subsequently, the better search engine rankings you will receive.
Apply for Directory Listings
Directory services can often provide you with a valuable link, especially if they employ editorial efforts to review websites for quality before acceptance. Sites such as Yahoo! Directory or DMOZ are excellent examples of quality directories that can provide you with credible links. While some directories will charge you a review or listing fee, other directories, such as AllTop or Blogs.com, are free.
Beyond the standard website directories, you can also garner incoming links from article directories, which review and publish quality content that you submit. You provide an informative, useful article to these directories, and in exchange, you receive a link back to your website in the resource or biography box. Popular article directories include EzineArticles and GoArticles.
However, you want to certainly ensure that you are not submitting your website to link farms or “free for all” directories. In fact, being listed on these websites may do you harm, especially considering that Google has banned a large majority of these sites.
Offer Quality Content as a Resource
You can improve your chances of getting links from other websites by offering quality resources and content yourself. When you write interesting and unique content, you increase your chances that a website will link to yours.
Consider creating a blog on your website, regularly publishing fresh content that will be considered interesting or useful. For example, if you operate a party supplies website, you can publish DIY projects on your blog weekly, and this increases the probability that other blogs will link to your website to share your projects with their readers.
Link Anchor Text
Anchor text is the actual displayed text that is found within the html tag. The anchor text on your incoming links, whether from article directories or other websites, can be more important than the link itself when it comes to search engine ranking.
Search engines like Google use an algorithm that analyzes all links that exist to a website. The process determines the ranking based on the anchor text. Thus anchor text should be relative to the topic of the webpage and should contain a few descriptive keywords, rather than just a one-word link.
For example, a link to your home brewing website may show as a highlighted “ABCwebsite.” However, it would be more effective for ranking if the anchor text showed “best homebrewing tips.” Note that the anchor text from incoming websites should look natural and varied, not artificial.
Utilize Social Media
Don’t forget the value of obtaining links from powerful social networking websites, such as Digg or StumbledUpon. In fact, you can write “linkbait” articles for your website that are specifically geared to garner attention from social networks. These articles can take on a variety of forms, but they are typically very interesting, funny, highly useful, or controversial. Interesting and easy-to-read lists, such as “10 Ways to Check Your SEO” or “5 Greatest SEO Blunders of All Time,” often find themselves on the front page of social networking websites. Not only does this build links back to your website, but you also enjoy new readers and a better ranking with the search engines.
The ultimate effectiveness of the links you build depends upon the quality of website you provide. In every aspect of your website, including design, content, tools, speed, and images, people will want to link to your site only if it is worth visiting.