As we have seen in the second chapter, the authority of a website depends directly on the number of pages that link to it , the authority of these pages, the level of thematic similarity between your website and the one that links to you, and other factors related to the content. that surrounds the link, such as its anchor text (text of the link), the words that surround it and even the position that the link occupies within the content.
That is why a large part of the SEO work, in addition to optimizing the web and its content, is the generation of links with the purpose of increasing the authority of the web and improving its positioning . This practice is known as link building .
In this chapter we will focus on what Google values in links , why people link to other websites , and the main ways to get a link , including the main link building tactics .
How Google interprets a link
When Googlebot crawls a website, it pays special attention to the links it finds and "follows" them by going to the page they link to and analyzing it as well. The links work like votes in an election, broadly speaking if you have more links, you have more chances of coming out first. If you expand this information, review chapter 2: Web positioning factors .
It is necessary to know that there are many factors that determine the value of a link, many hypotheses about points that could influence it and some discrepancies between professionals. The main important points are:
- Relevance : A link from a page that talks about a topic similar to yours gives you more value than another that talks about a totally different topic. For example, if the most reputable page in the world about chocolate cookies links to your website about desserts, it will be much more valuable than a link from a general newspaper, even if it has more authority.
- Authority : A web page to which 100 others link will provide more value through a link than another to which only 10 link, if we consider that the average quality of each link was the same in both cases. Thus a link from a page with authority is much more valuable than another from a page without it .
- Trust : Google chooses some websites that it considers to be of the highest trust (institutions, universities, government...) so that its robots start a search. These pages have a maximum trust value. Google follows the links on these pages and discovers new websites. The more intermediate websites there are between the initial ones and you, the less trust Google will give you .
For all this, it is more important to generate links from pages with great authority, relevance and trust than to build links without any type of filter.
How has link building changed?
Google only loves you after everyone else loves you.
A few years ago, link building was done automatically through signatures with links in forums, bots that randomly commented on posts by inserting links, link exchanges, and a series of easily scalable techniques that today do not give results. The latest updates to the search engine (especially the Google Penguin versions ) have focused on better identifying these unnatural patterns and making them not only not transmit value, but also penalize the SEO of a website .
The speed with which Google changes forces us to consider not only what Google values now, but what points work now but may be penalized in the coming months . In general, it will help us to put ourselves in the shoes of Google : Its business is to offer its users the best possible result for a question , the links are only a way to identify it, so we have to start by creating content that really is the best answer to that question before looking for shortcuts.
If you really get it, that content will receive links effortlessly, and if the page is optimized you will start to climb positions in Google.
Why do we link?
First of all, it is important to understand the psychology behind a link. Links don't usually come from desperate attempts to get them, rather, the big pages that have the biggest link profiles don't usually get them actively: people just link to them.
Passive link generation is when your page receives links without an external effort to obtain them. But why would they bind you?
- You are relevant : This happens to brands like Coca Cola, Sony, or those that are very relevant in some niches. Just being relevant in other channels is an advantage at the online level.
- You are an authority : If you are a reference within your industry, you will get links from people who link to you to complement content.
- You add value : People put links in articles, news or portals to offer additional value or complementary information. If with what you do you offer a value that complements the content of others or generates new/interesting information such as news, they will link to you.
- They appreciate you : It could be your friend or someone who loves your content. In any case, this relationship can lead to a link.
- Partners and partners : When two people collaborate and therefore the improvement of one is good for the other, it is normal for them to link to each other, since this can improve the SEO of both domains. EYE! Do not force this technique, the exchange of links is penalized by Google.
- Others : People may link to you because they hate you , because they want to criticize you, or because you are relevant for a negative reason . This is not a type of link that will benefit you in the long term, because it damages your brand and because in the medium term Google could detect that it contains a negative sentiment.
In short, generate relationships, fall in love with those who see your content, add value, become an authority and, finally, manage to be relevant. This is the path to a page with a great link profile that generates SEO traffic.
Link building tactics
There are specific link building tactics that can help us systematize our task and generate greater profit for a website, but always starting from a main idea: think about the user, generate good content with the keywords in mind and share it.
- Through content : This technique condenses what we call obtaining passive links in the previous point. It consists of improving your content in a way that adds value and is a source that everyone wants to link to. A variant, link baiting , involves generating specific content for the purpose of generating attention and links. Within the link baiting we would include the creation of infographics, controversial websites, reports and studies, etc.
- Through contacts : A person or organization has a series of relationships that they have built over time . The more connected you are, the more relationships you will have established. And these relationships can be transferred to the online world in the form of links . For example, it is very possible that among your closest family or friends, several have blogs or other types of websites. It is normal for the employees of a company to have their own page. It is normal for distributors, customers and people who provide service to an organization to have an online presence. For this reason, it is important that an SEO is well connected and always has a good number of contacts in the online sector. Don't see it as asking for a favor, but asa way to add value with your website to another page .
For example , in the case of a restaurant, you could try to get your staff and customers who trust websites to link to them from them. Suppliers and associates could be contacted to request that they put us in the sections of their websites dedicated to it. We could even go to blogger conventions to invite top bloggers to eat for free or with an offer to get mentions and links.
- Directories and social repositories : All the pages where you can put a link to your page through registration or registration. This is one of the most dangerous points in SEO, since there are hundreds of free resources on the web, but they are potentially harmful to our page. There are good and bad directories and repositories; The maximum to know if they are positive for us is: Will it bring me traffic from people who click on the link? In general, a link that generates this type of traffic will be positive. If what you want is SEO value, focus on the following points:
- Niche directories: Niche directories are those that try to provide information on a very specific sector. For example, tech blog directories or tech company directories. Here you can even include lists or compilations that fulfill the same function on pages or blogs, for example: «The best marketing agencies in Spain». Here we could try to contact the author to justify why he should include ours or try to reach him by other means.
- Local directories : These are especially relevant for local businesses like restaurants, bars, driving schools, etc. Not only do they provide great value, but Google reviews many of them to verify information about your business, and the activity and comments that are generated in them have a great influence. You can find more information in the post how to improve your local SEO .
Some examples of local directories:
- Google PlusLocal
- Yellow Pages
- Social Networks : Most Social Networks allow you to generate a link to your web page, and most are indexable for Google. This does not mean that you have to create a profile in each network that exists, but that you make sure that you take advantage of your social presence in this sense in the channels that make sense to use for your website. Besides, Google+ has a huge effect on the positioning of a website as shown by the latest studies .However, do not forget that the main SEO benefit of social networks is indirect: The dissemination of your content makes it easier for you to receive links, so Social Networks are in a way a passive link building tool, and a complement to active .
- Content aggregators and social bookmarks : These are pages that are dedicated to trying to curate the contents of the web, either through user votes, popularity on social networks or other factors. The really popular sites are interesting, not because of the SEO benefit that they can bring you, but because they can generate traffic peaks of thousands of public visits that you can retain. You have more information in this post about alternative channels to viralize your content.
- Guest Blogging : Guest blogging or guest blogger is a technique by which a blogger writes on an external blog in exchange for popularity, and sometimes, to include links to other pages. If you have a blog or your page includes one, this technique can be one of the most effective as long as you take it seriously. It is necessary that you contribute real value to the blogs in which you write, only in this way will you get your post spread and get a greater reach for the story you want to tell.
Tip: Save your best posts for the blogs where you're going to get the most visibility, not yours. If you are going to include links, try not to make them seem shoehorned in , but links to some valuable resource of your own or to websites that complement the reading. Guest blogging cannot be a form of link spam , and putting a link in the bio is not as effective and is likely to be detected by algorithms.
- Sponsorships: Sponsorships of NGOs, popular initiatives, or holding events to take care of Corporate Social Responsibility can be a great way to generate links and contribute to improving your environment. People love to link to charities or philanthropic events , so partnering with them is good on an SEO level as well. Make sure that if you are carrying out actions of this type, you can give it an SEO return, either by creating your own page if it is something from your own organization or website, or by ensuring that the collaboration also materializes in a link .
- Broken Link Building : Broken link building consists of identifying broken links on third-party web pages and recommending to the web master a series of options that include pages from our own web. To do this we look for links on pages, niches and topics similar to ours, we identify possible links and we get in touch with webmasters. It should be noted that it is one of the most scalable and effective tactics today , so we recommend that you read this spectacular MOZ broken link building guide and become an expert.
In short, although link building is one of the legs of SEO, it is not something that can be done separately from the company: you need content, to be relevant, to make contacts. If all this is done correctly, and also seen from an SEO perspective, you can achieve wonders. However, an SEO team will never be able to successfully improve a page's ranking without on-page changes and fierce support from communication and marketing.
Even the best SEOs are not magicians. They can't get a website to the top of the search engines when there are hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of pages offering basically the same thing and providing basically the same information. If they could, you would see a lot of millionaire SEOs.