Anchor Text and other Link Building Tips
For effective Search Engine Optimisation, there are two main approaches which must be taken to ensure your website achieves the ranking positions which it deserves. The first, and most obvious, of these is the actual on-site optimisation work which must take place, focussing on keyphrase relevant title, Meta and h1 tags in addition to well written and relevant content on the website. The second of these, and what it widely considered to be one of the main determinants of ranking positions, is link building; the process of sourcing high-quality in-bound links to a website from a variety of sources.
The methods of on-site SEO are well documented, with the first resource anyone should visit for more information being Google’s own Webmaster Central, and whilst taking a site from a non-optimised state to a fully optimised one is an essential process, this is putting in place a strong framework for link building campaigns and techniques. SEO is not just a single approach technique to improve one’s search engine rankings, rather a careful mix of a number of strategies which, when implemented together, will see a website climbing up the search engine pages. Whilst no one doubts that on-site optimisation will see a website climb up the rankings, it is link building techniques which will reward a website with the top positions.
The concept of link building works on the basis that each in-bound link to a website acts as a vote for that page on Google, essentially meaning, in theory, that the site with the most ‘votes’ will rank highest on the search engines. However, in reality it does not necessarily work on a basis of ‘most votes wins’ as link quality is of higher importance than link quantity. For example, if website X has 10 high quality in-bound links, and website Y has 20 low quality in-bound links, site X will be the one which ranks highest in the search engines. This concept of ‘votes’ is the case as each in-bound link is considered to be what is classed as an ‘editorial endorsement’ for a website, or in simpler terms, one website showing its trust for another by placing a link to their website, however a number of factors are taken into account when establishing the quality of links.
When working on a link building campaign essential to take a variety of factors which affect link quality into consideration throughout the process, which, it should be pointed out, should be a continual strategy to ensure regular, high quality, links are sourced. Below we will discuss the major factors affecting link building;
- Link Anchor Text
The anchor text of a link refers to the clickable text of a link through to a website and it is essential to give some thought to the anchor text used, as this is what helps the search engines to understand what the page which the link points to is all about. However, it is advisable not to place links with anchor text completely irrelevant to the website as it has been well documented that the search engines are wise to this and the effectiveness will not be the same as it would on a page relevant to the link anchor text.
The PageRank of a website providing the in-bound link is an important ranking factor in link building campaigns as, again, it is well documented that a page passes on a proportion of its Google PageRank to those websites which it links to. How much of a given websites PageRank is passed is unknown but it is certainly the case that a proportion is passed on. Therefore, when seeking direct links it is worth taking into account the PageRank which a page possesses and it is definitely the case of ‘quality over quantity’ in a lot of circumstances, where, for example, one high quality link is of more value than two low quality links.
The relevance of a page where a link originates is another factor which should be taken into consideration for link building as a link from a website with a relevance to the topic ones website covers is a stronger link than one which originates from a website with unrelated content.
Having looked at a number of the major factors to take into consideration when implementing a link building campaign, I’m sure many of you will be asking where the best place to source links is. That is unfortunately not a question which can be answered in a straight forward manner, and where to obtain links is certainly not a case of ‘right or wrong’ as there is endless opportunities for links to be sought. What we will do, however, is give a run down on a number of the most common sources of links so you yourself can begin to seek high quality links, or if you are employing an SEO company, develop a basic understanding behind the work that goes on in your link building strategy;
However obvious they may be, a number of directories are still a valuable source for in-bound links. Whilst a lot of these are free submissions, the most effective are those which must be accepted and face an editorial review.
- Direct Links
A strong source of links is direct links from one website to another and if one website has a strong relationship with another similar website, for whatever reason that may be, a direct link request may be accepted by the webmaster to place a link from site X to site Y. If there is no current relationship between the two websites, obtaining a link may prove to be more difficult and is likely to require an in-depth link request proposal to the webmaster, which may or may not be accepted, depending on the nature of the website, amongst other factors.
- Article Writing and Submissions
Writing relevant articles relating to a subject matter which is covered on your website and submitting these to a range of article hosting directories, ensuring links with relevant anchor text are placed within the content, can be a brilliant source of links and is a highly recommended technique to use.
- Blog Comments
Whilst this is one of the primary methods of Spam seen on blog websites, providing comments left on blogs are relevant and do not follow the structure of ‘interesting post [link]’ it is likely that webmasters will leave comments in place, keeping the link with it. What becomes a problem is when blogs are spammed with irrelevant comments so stay away from that, post relevant and interesting comments and it can be used as a brilliant link building technique. Put a bit of thought into it and you will get something out of it, put no thought into it and you won’t.
What must be remembered when link building is that links must appear to be natural, which means placing hundreds of links in one go is generally not a good idea. It is also worth noting that the likes of link farms, where a group of websites all link to each other solely for the purpose of link building, are classed as spam by Google and the other search engines, so are best avoided. A bit of careful research should quickly raise any concerns there may be with a link source and ensure a website receives only links which will be of benefit.
Link building and SEO in general are huge topics which could be written about in-depth for long periods of time however hopefully this article has shed some light on the subject and provided an analysis on link building techniques and practices.
Written by James Brockbank, SEO Consultant at SearchQuest.
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