- One of the most important aspects of SEO is links. This is traditionally been the backbone of how search engines work. As search engines scour the internet and crawl all the pages in the world, they find links pointing to other pages. You know that clickable text that you see everywhere that takes you to some other page? You can think of each one of those links as a vote, and not every vote is the same. Remember that some sites are considered more authoritative and trustworthy than others. In this weighted democracy there are really just three things that matter.
The number of links you have pointing to you, the ratio of links to linking domains, and the quality of those links. Generally speaking you'll improve your search engine visibility by increasing your link popularity. The more quality links you have pointing back to your website from other websites, the more authoritative your site will be to search engines. If no other website was linking to yours, it would be very difficult for search engines to trust your site enough to return it in the search results. A search engine would much rather show results from sites that have earned links and authority.
But you can have all the links in the world and it won't matter unless those links are of high quality. One thing search engines look for to determine link quality is how relevant the link is to the content on the pages. For example, if you run a recipe website and you end up with a food blog linking to you, the search engine has no trouble with that relationship. It makes perfect sense that a food blog would link to a recipe website. But if you went out and told your friend who owns a pet supply website to put a link on their site over to yours, that's going to be a little harder to justify.
A pet supply site probably has no business linking to your recipes. And since that thematic connection isn't there, a search engine may not place as much value on that link. Search engines will also look at the link text itself. The text that you can click on is what's known as anchor text. And if you think about it that anchor text serves as a pretty good clue as to what that destination page is all about. For example, if a link uses anchor text like California backpacking tips, that's a pretty strong signal to search engines that the page on the other side of that link is about California backpacking tips.
A search engine doesn't even need to go to that page and it already knows what to expect. Think about that compared to a link that uses anchor text of link or click here. Unless that page is really about links or clicking here, it's not going to tell a search engine much about what's on that page. Anchor text is among the most important and most overlooked parts of the value of an inbound link. Another indicator of quality is freshness and trends. Search engines expect you to naturally gain a steady amount of links over time.
And if you don't it might be interpreted as a bad thing. For example, if a bunch of links to your site showed up on the internet five years ago and you've had nothing since then, your content may be considered stale, and your site would be less authoritative and less trustworthy. On the other hand, if you've never had anyone link to you in your life and then on a certain date there was a pattern of a hundred new links showing up from random blogs on the same day every single month, the search engines are going to investigate a little deeper, and they might find out that you've hired someone to buy you a bunch of links every month.
And while we're talking about spam, this is probably a good time to say that it is highly recommended that you not try to trick the system. Search engines are aware of just about every technique out there. And there are some very real penalties for getting caught trying to manipulate the system. If a search engine finds an extremely large amount of similar links with the same anchor text popping up all over the place, or links that appear to have been paid for, or suspicious groups of websites that are known to practice spamming techniques, or any number of other factors, it's very easy for them to figure out exactly what you've been doing and penalize you for it.
Penalties can be anything from dropping your rankings for minor infractions to dropping you from the entire index if you're doing really overt things. Remember, search engine optimization is not something you do for short-term gain. It's something that you build upon day after day to build long-term value. Create great content. Promote it through all the channels you can. And leverage the relationships you have and create new ones to earn links that make sense and you'll be rewarded. Finally, we've entered into an era where social media is now simply a part of our online lives.
When people post and share links to your content, or indicate its quality by clicking a button, search engines are taking note. If you think about it, where they used to have to rely on other websites in the weighted democracy, social media allows them a signal that specifically tells them what people like. Understanding your audience and the keywords that they're typing in to search engines, and creating great content around it, is the first step to SEO. But earning the links back to your website around the web is what really shows search engines just how trustworthy and authoritative you really are.
- Define search engine optimization.
- Explore the fundamentals of reading search engine results pages.
- Examine the essentials of understanding keyword attributes.
- Break down the steps for optimizing the non-text components of a webpage.
- Recognize how search engines index context.
- Explore an overview of long-term content planning strategies and how they can help keep content on your site fresh.
- Define your website’s audience, topics, angle, and style when mapping out your long-term content.
- Identify the steps to take when building internal links within your website.
- Recognize how to analyze links in order to measure SEO effectiveness.
- Break down the necessary components for understanding local SEO.