​Link Building for SEO: What is it and Why Should I do it?

Netmatters Ltd
Posted by Netmatters Ltd
26th June 2015

What is link building?

Link building is the action of implementing a hyperlink of your website on someone else’s website. This is beneficial in more than one way, because not only does this direct more traffic to your site in the form of users on the other websites yours is linked from, but it also assists your page in acquiring a high page ranking on search engines. Search engines will use these links to crawl the web, and they will crawl the links between your individual websites and will also crawl the links between entirely separate websites.

There are a few different techniques for link building, and they vary in difficulty. SEOs tend to think that link building is one of the most important, and time consuming aspects of their jobs and many SEOs spend the majority of the time trying to link build, but more importantly trying to link build well. If you can master the complicated art of efficient link building, then it will put you far ahead of your opposition.

What does "Crawling" mean?

A search engine spider (also called bots, robots, ants, automatic indexers and more) is an Internet bot that systematically browser the web, typically for the sole purpose of indexing. Web spiders also are sometimes used to update or refresh their content, and they can create a copy of any page that they visit which gets saved for later processing to index said pages and allows users to therefore search more efficiently.

Why is Link Building so Important?

Link building can make and break the success of a website, but to fully understand the importance of link building it is detrimental that you understand the different aspects of link building, the basics of link building, how a search engine interprets these links and finally what they can figure out from any given link. Here are the basic aspects of a link element:

The beginning of any link tag: if you inspect the element of a link on website this is the first thing you will read. It comes in the form of an "

<p><a href="http://www.example.com"> this would be the link text </a></p>

The link referral position: the href, or hyperlink referral and the text inside these quotation marks are what indicated to the browser the URL location of these links. It does not always have to be a webpage, as links can be used for a direct download, an image or even files. Also there are local links that begin with "#", and these are local links that bring you to another area of the page that you are already on.

Visible anchor text and closure: this is the visible text for any given link on the webpage, as you probably know when you see a link on a webpage; the link is most of the time attached to a string of words, or a single word. Also links are often highlighted in a different colour to make them stand out, often blue. This is to firstly show the user that this is a link, and also to attract them to visiting the link. Links are important to a webpage, and if a link does not stand out then users will not click on the link, making it essentially useless. This is also the final bit of information in a link tag, before the closure, which simply takes the form of an "" at the end of the element.

What do Links actually mean to Search Engines

Search engines really look at links from two different perspectives, the first is how a search engines discovers new web pages, and the second is to assist the search engine in the ranking of a website.

Once a search engine spider has crawled your website, it adds the pages to its index. This is the way that it decides if the page is of enough quality to rank highly for its own particular keywords. When doing this google also checks the number and quality of external links to that site, so if you had a link from an educational or well established website then google would hold this in high regard. The whole idea of this is based around the fact that a link is seen as a "vote of confidence" and it is depending solely on the fact that if a website links to another that they recommend that website to its users.

The difference between "follow" and "nofollow" links

Follow and no follow links are very different. A follow link is the sort of link you will usually find on a website, and goes on the base of what is mentioned above. If a website posts a follow link then it is generally seen that this website putting its seal of approval and recommending that website. These sorts of links essentially give your website points when it comes to how commendable your site is. The more reputable the site that has linked your website, the more boost it will give to the search engine ranking of your site.

Nofollow links on the other hand do not go by this rule. A nofollow link has no value in this area, and does not count as a boost to your websites rank in google. This sort of link tells google that "Hey, yeah we have got a link to this site on ours, but we don’t recommend the site and for this reason we don’t want you to count this link as boost on your search engine". Essentially this just means that, as far as an SEO would be concerned, this link is useless and bares no relevance. It carries a tag that tells search engines to "not count" this link.

If nofollow links did not exist then the entirety of google would be full of spam. Nofollow links dissipate the existence of spam, as businesses will not post any links to a site where the link will appear as nofollow as it will hold no value to them. If all links held value then it would be catastrophic, all websites would be full of spam comments and google would be full of spammy and irrelevant sites that would appear highly on the page rankings simply due to the fact that it has a lot of external links.

How can Link Building benefit my website and my business?

As we have mentioned several times already in this article, link building is a key factor in how search engines rank a website, so by now you will know that having a link to your website on another web page is incredibly beneficial to the page ranking of your site, but there are also other benefits to link building that we have not yet mentioned. Some of these are:

Building relations with other businesses – Link building involves you reaching out to similar businesses to yours, and also to the key influencers in your niche market. This allows you to not only get a simple follow link to your site on others, but it also opens the door to new and exciting business opportunities that your company may not have experienced before, and as well as this developing this relationship to these sorts of businesses makes your business much more trustworthy and higher regarded.

Building up your brand – Link building can also potentiate further qualities for your business. Partnerships with established providers who have a strong weight in your target market also make your brand more established, and give you much more authority in your specific niche market. When you reach out and try and get links to industry specific content you are showing your experience and expertise within the given industry, and also you are setting an example for the others in your industry to do the same thing.

Something else important to note:

Link building is not the same as link earning. When link building you are reaching out and asking for a link to your site to be featured by someone else on their website. When you earn a link you did not do this, when you earn a link it shows that you provide a compelling service that has an edge over your competitors because someone has picked your service or product over the others in your niche market.

Naturally earning a link is harder than building one, due to the nature of the business. To earn links you really need to stand out over your opposition, and have a unique selling point while retaining reliability and meeting all of the needs of your customers. Many companies find it hard to do this because many of their competitors sell a very similar service or product in a very similar way.

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