A Concise Guide to Link Building

In the past we posted an article all about the best way to approach link building, but it struck us that it’s only going to be of any use if you actually know what link building is. So we decided to create another one of our “Concise” guides, to fill you in on the essentials of one of the cornerstones of SEO, without any of the fluff.

What is link building?

A link is any online text or image that can be clicked on to
take you to another webpage.

Links from one webpage to another on a different website are known as ‘backlinks’
or ‘inbound links’. They are displayed as ‘hyperlinks’, which are links hidden
behind anchor text.  They’ll typically
look something
like this

Link building is the process of getting external pages to
publish content that will link through to your webpage when clicked on.

The idea behind link building is to get as many external
pages as possible linking to your website in order to boost the reputation and
search engine ranking of your site. But they can’t just be any external pages,
they must be quality – we’ll get to that later.

Why do I need to build links?

Because links are a major part of search engine optimisation
(SEO) and one of the most important search engine ranking factors. While there
are over 200 ranking factors in Google’s algorithm, it is widely accepted that
link building is one of the most influential.

In Google’s own words:

“In general,
webmasters can improve the rank of their sites by creating high-quality sites
that users will want to use and share.”
– i.e. link to.

You need to build links to improve your SEO and enhance your
search ranking. Refer to our 3 minute
guide to SEO
for everything SEO-related.

Some of the benefits of link building include:

  • Improved visibility in search engines
  • Respect as a thought-leader
    and industry authority
  • Easier indexing of webpages in search engines
  • More traffic from sources that have linked to you


How do I build links?

Google says that you’re more likely to rank higher for
targeted keywords if external websites are ranking to you.

You can do this by:

  • Creating relevant, informative and engrossing content that other
    websites want to share, reference and link to in their own content
  • Getting links from business partners and friends in respected
    industry-related positions
  • Getting your products and/or services reviewed by influential
    industry websites and bloggers
  • Submitting content to established press release websites


Check out our article on How to build links and live to tell the tale for the lowdown on
safe link building. Incidentally, the link to that article is an example of
internal link building, if you’re interested.

Why does quality matter?

Because Google penalises anything that doesn’t meet its high
standards. Link building is very much a case of quality over quantity – 10
links from quality sources will have a greater effect on rankings than 10,000
links from low quality sources.

Quality link building involves implementing superior content
that people feel compelled to link to on their own websites and social media
accounts. These are the sort of links that search engines place the most value
on. The problem with these natural and ethical methods, though, is that they
take a lot of time and effort. They are also reliant on websites that you don’t

Link building methods that search engines don’t take kindly
to (i.e. methods you should avoid) include:

  • Paid linking – paying another party to link or build multiple links
    to your site
  • Guest blogging – submitting blog posts to low quality websites
    solely for SEO purposes
  • Content spinning – creating multiple paraphrased versions of the
    same article and submitting them to low quality websites
  • Link swapping – exchanging links with websites of poor quality or
    no relevance to your website


Dofollow and nofollow links

You’ll hear these terms a lot during link building

‘Dofollow’ and ‘nofollow’ are attributes designed to
influence search engine bots.

Dofollow links force search engine spiders to follow a link
and index the page for the benefit of the search engine and humans.

Nofollow links see a HTML attribute placed in a link to stop
link juice spreading to other pages. Basically, Google won’t crawl the link.

A nofollow link looks like this:

<a href= http://www.website1.com

<a href= http://www.website2.com  rel=”external nofollow”>Website2</a>

In summary

Link building is a fundamental part of SEO and essential in
reaching the ultimate goal of a first page search ranking. Links must be earned
rather than built and done naturally through quality content that offers value
to the user.

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