“The best piece of advice I can give you is to vary your linking strategy. It’s the only way to be sure you’ll achieve good rankings, and keep them. Remember that what works today might not work “tomorrow” – so it’s worth experimenting while all the time hunting for those “quality” links.”
Surely everybody knows by now, Google, and indeed the Internet, is powered, by HTML Links. Good rankings, and success, in all the search engines results pages, eventually lies in getting links from other sites to your site. Effectively, the more the better.
Bearing in mind “Content Is King” on the web, no matter how great your content is, no matter how search engine optimised your page is, if you don’t have inbound links, you’re usually next to nowhere in the Google serps – especially in competitive markets – probably because a competitor has got in there first and generated some content and links before you.
But what is the perfect link? What is the best linking strategy? The answer is – everybody has a different view of a perfect link, and everybody has different ways of measuring exactly what a perfect link is.
Here’s my take on what I look for when i am link hunting (all, I think worth thinking about and in no particular order).
1. Page Rank
Did I say Page Rank? Yes. Google Page Rank is still important regardless of what some seo people claim. Google (well, Matt Cutts, says the easiest way to get your internal pages out of the supplemental index (Google’s back up listings) is to get PR to those pages. A high page rank can also mean your site is spidered more frequently than it might be (good if you are constantly adding content to your website – which of course, you should be doing!)
So in a sense, the love affair with Google Page Rank, which used to be the be-and-end-all of good Google serps, has started again, to some degree. How do you increase Page Rank? You simply(!) get links from pages with high Page Rank. If you have a search engine friendly navigation structure that effectively spreads GPR and manage to get a link from a very high Page Rank (7-10) you are laughing all the way to the bank.
Equally a lot of links from low page rank pages will help to increase your own site Google Page Rank, eventually.
Some say ignore Page Rank. We don’t. Perhaps why we achieved a Page Rank 7 site after 10 months when the self proclaimed “best in the industry” is a Page Rank 7 after more than 10 years LOL ;)
2. Anchor Text
Anchor text is simply the text in the link. If I want to rank for something and I have an optimised page wating to get links to it, I’d like a link with my actual desired keyword or keyword phrase in the actual link ie seo scotland (feel free to link to me with that!) instead of “click here” or something.
My thinking is, I’m not trying to rank for “click here” am I?
3. Link within text, surrounded by text
Google can easily spot a long list of links (like navigation arrays etc) so I would always try and get a link from within the actual text on a page so it looks more “natural”. Ideally the surrounding text would also be relevant to my page. Sometimes the only sure way of generating these links is to write good content on your site to “force” people to link to you (unless you own the other site of course). These type of links are in my opinion the creme de la creme of links (which is why some seo’s actually buy these type of links (I don’t)!
4. Trust / Authority
Trusted sites pass “trust factor”. Basically the thinking is, trusted sites rank well in Google, because they are, well, trusted! (stop me if this gets too complicated!). Trusted authority sites rarely link to spammy sites – they only link to quality, probably related, sites. If you can manage to get a link from a trusted site in your niche, this could be worth it’s weight in Gold.
How do you tell if a website (or page within a website) is trusted? Well that’s the question that’s on the lips of every seo! How do i determine it? Well, if you think simply, if it’s all about HTML links, then trust would be calculated by Google by the number and quality of links to that site / web page. Simply, Get Links From Pages With Links!
5. Relevance / Relationship / Theme
How relevant is the page that is linking to you? I mean, if you have a seo site, are you trying to get links from search engine optimization related websites? Where possible, I’ll try and get a link on a page that is actually about the same subject matter as the web page i want a link to.
6. Hub / Neighbourhood
Every niche has an authority hub, an inner network of sites every other site in the niche links to. This is the “neighbourhood” a(remarkably!) few seo’s, including myself, harp on about.
Getting a link from these sites has got to be a good idea in any campaign, as these sites, that Google already trusts and rates, pass along a portion of this “trust” thingy Google calculates. Linking out to these sites is also thought to be useful, as these links determine the online neighbourhood your site resides within.
7. Any old link!
Don’t get me wrong, I’ll take a link from anyone! Feel Free! But links vary in everything from quality and trust etc – I just spend my time trying to get quality links where possible, and at least from relevant pages. It’s these kind of links that will help you in Google.
And don’t think I dreamt all this up myself. I read a lot of seo blogs on the subject and try and take a subjective view on what’s best for my purposes and what mood I’m in that day and what sounds “intelligent” to me, and I’m always experimenting with every option!
It’s always a good idea to vary your link building strategies, so your not susceptible to massive ranking algorythm changes when one strategy is devalued.
Reciprocal Linking – Should you bother? I think reciprocal linking is somewhat natural, especially between hub sites in the same neighbourhood, and in this case, where relevant, they won’t hurt you.
The biggest risk you lay your site open to in reciprocal linking is eventually linking enough out to a “bad neighbourhood” (basically a neighbourhood of websites Google doesn’t like) could see your site devalued in Google Search Engine Results Pages (serps).
The best piece of advice I can give you is to vary your linking strategy. Mix it up! It’s the only way to be sure you’ll achieve good rankings, and keep them. Remember that what works today might not work “tomorrow” – so it’s worth experimenting while all the time hunting for those “quality” links.
While you’re mixing it up, you’ll also make it harder for others to reverse engineer your hard work, creating “noise” in the search engines.
Oh, did I say, get plenty! ;)