The importance of links to a Web site’s search engine position is no longer a secret. As search engines have evolved, link building has become critical to search visibility. Today’s search engines are looking for new ways to provide searchers with the most appropriate content possible and link analysis is currently the method of choice. Simply put – without paying attention to link building, your site will never meet its ranking potential. But, before you run off to find as many links to your site as possible, keep in mind that there are good ways to build links and there are bad ways.
Link building must be tied to your overall Web site strategy. It is the most tedious and time consuming component of the SEO process – but it is well worth the effort. Because link building is such a broad (and important) topic, I decided to split this post up in to a series of installments. For this part, I will discuss the importance of link relevancy and consistency.
The difference between link popularity and link relevance
Link popularity refers to the number of other sites/pages that link to your site/pages. This used to be the focus of link building, but with the evolution of modern “theme-based” search engines, and the amount of link spamming that has taken place over the past years, it has now become much less important. Link relevancy is determined by the context of a site that is linking to you and the content found on that site. If a search engine is able to identify a common theme between your site and the sites that are linking to you, it will consider your site to be much more relevant to related search terms.
Think of inbound links as endorsements for your site. When other site owners choose to link to you, they are basically telling the search engines (and their users of course) that they feel your site is valuable. This is exactly what search engines are looking for. One well-positioned, highly relevant link from a quality/authoritative source is worth hundreds of low quality links from unrelated sites.
Keep your link profile consistent
Today’s search engines want to be able to identify a theme for your Web site. From an SEO standpoint, establishing your theme starts with the keywords that you choose to target and how you structure your site around them. However, by incorporating your keywords into subsequent components of the SEO process, you will be able to strongly reinforce your site’s theme and consequently your rankings for related search terms. If you can maintain consistency between the on-page and off-page elements of your site, you will make the search engines (and your users) very happy.
You can’t control the sites that link to you, but be very selective with the sites that you choose to link to. It doesn’t hurt your site if an unrelated source links to you, however, if you decide to link back to them it will.
Link building is an on-going process that requires consistent effort. Becoming a prominent member of your web community is not achieved over night, but with the right links from the right sources, your search engine position will improve dramatically. Keep your eyes peeled for my second installment, coming soon.