Having an understanding of link building is as important as any other ranking factor, and in order to break down the types of links we need to answer the question “why do we have links in the first place?”.
“In general, webmasters can improve the ranking of their sites by increasing the number of high-quality sites linking to their pages”
Why do we use links?
Links are considered to have the most effective long-term benefits for any website, but it is widely known to be one of the toughest tasks an SEO manager will face. They can greatly contribute to your ranking in search results if you take the right approach. They are the glue that binds your web pages and other websites together. So when you apply this to SEO, you should think of it as the foundation of your site.
And did you know that links are considered one of the top 3 ranking factors in SEO today?
So before you start trying to build links, it’s good to understand the types of links you should and shouldn’t work with. Although each link can take its form in several forms, they generally fall into 3 main categories…
1. Natural backlinks
These are the links beyond your control, and usually planted by other webmasters. Google thinks the latter are the most relevant and natural. However, we should be aware that there might be strong links, and some that are considered low quality. Seeing these links in the hands of other people can sometimes be quite frustrating, as there is always a risk of spam and unwanted attraction.
Natural backlinks are the ones you didn’t know were coming, so monitoring them is the way to go. This involves creating a backlink profile analysis of your site and requesting removal of bad links by Google. During your analysis, you should plan to identify other key areas, including:
- Broken links
- The broken pages of these links
- Live back links
- Unfollowed links
- Links to follow
- The number of backlinks to your site
- Anchor text of these links
- Links reference page
2. Links that we create ourselves
These are links that we can add to off-page resources. As you can probably imagine, this is the area where Google receives the most spam and is most likely to incur a penalty. At the time, “SEO experts” spammed them to the point where users were directed to content they weren’t interested in at all. They can be created in different ways, including:
- Comment headings
- PBN (private blog networks)
- Site wide
- Footer links
This method had great short term effects (and still does), but in the long term your backlinks will become unnatural and likely trigger a penalty. However, people still use this method to build their third level links to add extra authority to their second level links. So unless your content is completely relevant and you’re linking to very high authority sites, I recommend staying away from them in your first level direct link set.
3. Links through Outreach
These are the links we get from others by identifying linkable sites, building long-term, trusted relationships with webmasters, and asking them directly for a link. By providing them with high quality content for their site, you can receive the link in return for this effort.
I find it’s gotten to the point where webmasters are less worried about receiving high quality content for links, and more about asking for money and receiving below average content for their site, in exchange for the link. So while a website may have a blog, it’s still good to spend some time checking the quality of the work.
Unique content with bite will go a long way in raising awareness. Once you have your content, the plan is to keep your websites as relevant as possible, build relationships with webmasters, and then link broker.
A brief understanding
It is very important to know this when working on your website and it should be integrated with other SEO activities. Hopefully, now that we understand what types of links exist, we can use this as the first step to creating a solid SEO link building campaign. It’s far from easy, especially if you don’t have a process in place yet, but with constant research and an experimental approach, the closer you will get to your goal.