Intro to Link Building and Backlinks

Every website owner thinks their website is the best in it’s niche and wants their site to be located on the first page of Google Search. So what’s he problem? Well, Google doesn’t care how great your design is, how much research, time and money was spent making a website, or even how “nice’ of a person you are. Google cares about what OTHER people (and websites) think of your site.

What are Links?

Links (or hyperlinks) are a way of moving from one webpage to another by clicking words or pictures. Links can take you to another webpage within the same website (an inbound link), or to another page outside of that website (an outbound link).

  • URL Links - Some links are simply the webpage address, or URL.  (i.e., http://www.brandbuildsell.com)
  • Text Links – These links are also known as static links and are very common. They are links that appear as words or phrases typically using keywords you want your site to rank for. (i.e., How to Make a Website)
  • Image Links – Pictures or images than when clicked route you to another webpage. i.e,
  • Dynamic Links – These links appear as image, text, or url links but they include special code called JavaScript.

Not only do links allow internet users to move around from webpage to webpage, they also allow ‘spiders’ to gather information about the website. These spiders are also commonly known as crawlers, robots, or bots. They are programs used by search engines to ‘index’ your website. Indexing is using the information they have gathered to rank your website. To do this, spiders actually follow the links.

When the spider can’t follow a link, that link doesn’t increase your rank with the search engines, but the link may still bring internet users to that webpage. It is valuable to know that they cannot follow dynamic links or no follow links. No follow links are coded as no follow in the meta tags. Meta tags are in the web code and are visible by selecting ‘view source’ from the menu of your web browser.

Links coming into any page of your website from another website are called backlinks and each backlink is considered 1 vote for your site.

Backlinks are Similar to American Idol

Some American Idol contestants are good, some will leave you wondering who they paid (or slept with) to get on the show.Intro to Link Building

Each week the contestants battle it out on stage, singing their little hearts out. After the performance the audience and viewers at home call in to vote on who their favorites are, the person with the most votes moves on to the next round. The people with the lowest votes get kicked off even if they are more talented than the others.

To get your website ranked with the top search engines, you need backlinks (aka votes) coming to your website. Each link improves your rank with the search engines, but isn’t the only defining measure.

Using Links to Boost PageRank

Search engines value one way links much more than reciprocal links. But other factors weigh into the value of a link, including its relevancy to your website, the word used in and around the link, and the value of the website that holds the link. Sometimes links that bring a lot of traffic into your website can have no value with the search engines. Of course, these links still have value to your website.

The more high quality links coming into your website, the better it will rank. There are ways to build links coming into your website, but it takes time and work to build quality links. High quality links are links that build your pagerank and build your page reputation. Sometimes links that build reputation also build pagerank, but not always.

You want to get links coming into your website using your keywords. It is important to do a little research when selecting the keywords for your website. Some keywords aren’t words that are commonly searched. Other keywords may have too many searches and you could have a difficult time rising to the top of the ranks in keywords with so much competition.

In addition to getting links targeting your keywords, you must optimize your webpage for those same keywords. Links generated from keywords and content on your webpage including those keywords will improve your overall page rank. Including the keywords in your webpage content is more important than getting keyword links.

Links from anchored keyword links are better for ranking than simple URL links. Anchored text links that include your webpage keywords is your ultimate goal. The Google search engine also uses something called Latent Semantic Indexing, which means they look for synonyms on your page. It does this to ensure all the words on your page relate to your keyword in some way. Having all page content relevant to your keywords pay off with Google. Google does this to prevent keyword spamming.

Best Practices for Obtaining Backlinks

1. Making sure your webpage is full of relevant content. Not only will this benefit you with search engines, it will build your website reputation with internet users and other sites will want to link to your site automatically.

2. Building anchored text links with your keywords from other websites. It is best if the links come from other websites related to your website. A website about cooking will want to have links coming from other websites related to cooking to get full value of the links.

White, Grey and Black Hat Link Building

White Hat - This is the kind of link building Google is 100% ok with. It’s very limiting in what you can do, but it keeps you in the safe zone for what Google wants.

To stay white hat, means you need to make a website and create totally awesome and unique content, that will get you linked automatically (from other websites) and naturally.

By using white hat link building techniques, your site will only get links that it deserves because of the killer content you have put together. Google also says it’s ok to submit your site to online directories. Google has strict rules against linking techniques that can manipulate search rankings. To make sure you stay white hat, ou need to submit your website to directories using your site’s name as the the titles anchor.

Grey Hat – This consists of almost all of the link building techniques SEO experts. Link trading, directory submissions using keywords, article distribution and site interlining all would be considered, grey hat.

Everyone thinks these techniques are 100% acceptable, but they aren’t. Many people people get away with them, but the honest truth is that they are definitely in the grey hat area. Google and other search engines wold prefer to not see any linking techniques that manipulate search engine rankings and these clearly do.

Many SEO’s use grey hat techniques, so you will have to decide what is and isn’t worth the risk for you.

Black Hat – These linking techniques fall way outside the guidelines set forth by Google. This is the website farming, comment spamming and hacking that many black hats participate in, I personally wouldn’t get into anything like this, because unless you’re very advanced, you’ll amost always get banned before you succeed.

But at the same time, there are plenty of  black haters making money. Once you research keywords, there is no doubt you will stumble across a few. But since this is a very bad idea for most people, I’m never going to talk about these methods and would never use any of them myself. Just be aware of your competition and if they’re using them.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

1. Don’t waste time getting links from sites without pagerank. Links from a few well rankings websites are more valuable than hundreds of links from websites with no pagerank.

2. Be very cautious about buying your incoming links. Sudden increases in the number of incoming links sends up a red flag with Google. The search engine may penalize you for this sudden backlinks.

3. Go for anchored text links rather than URL links. They hold more value.

4. Try to avoid getting “no-follow” links, because they do not help your pagerank.

Where Can I Get Quality Backlinks?

You can see why building quality backlinks is an important step in increasing your pagerank. Here are places to build those backlinks. Always choose the best ranking websites and post the links using well thought out and relevant text.

1. Web Directories: Web directories are where internet users go to find services, products or people. They are similar to a phone book. You will want to submit your website to many well-ranked directories that are relevant to your website.

2. Articles: Write articles and submit them to article libraries. This will build backlinks and allow you to network with other users of the article libraries. It will also increase your exposure as an expert in your niche.

3. Social Bookmarking Communities: Make relevant posts to social bookmarking communities to get links, network and build your reputation.

4. Have Your Website Featured in a Blog: Bloggers are often looking for topics to write about. Submit your website to professional bloggers. A good review of your website from a blogger will build your reputation with the blog readers. If you can’t find a blogger to write about your website, you may want to start your own blog.

5. News Releases: If you have newsworthy information related to your keywords, submit your news to PR websites, or contact a journalist. Journalists are often looking for something to write about, simply request backlinks in return for your news.

6. Social Networking:
Establish a profile that displays you as an expert in your field. Network with others to promote your site and backlink to your website.

7. Video: If you have the ability to make a video there are online websites, such as YouTube, that allow you to upload your videos. Interviews, tips, advice, and demonstrations make great videos and establish you as an expert. Don’t forget to create a backlink from your video to your website.

8. Your Local Community: Websites about your local community will welcome your links and establish your reputation among people in your local area.

9. Forums: Forums are a good way to build reputation. It is important to participate and add your input and comments. You can get some backlinks from your forum posts, but they do not hold a lot of pagerank value. They will help bring visitors to your website.

10. Local Directories: You have likely seen directories in Yahoo and Google for your local area. Submit your address to them with a link to your website. You will be listed in the directory and it provides quality link to your website.

11. Wikipedia: The best known encyclopedia on the internet may want to link to your website. Write something for Wikipedia in factual and verifiable form. Wikipedia doesn’t allow promotion of people, products or companies.

12. Comment on Blogs:
Leave well thought out comments on blogs that are related to your keywords. Often these comments allow backlinks to be posted, but make sure your comment is valuable to the blog.

13. Answer Websites: Answers.com and Yahoo answers will allow you to establish yourself as an expert and network with internet users that want to from you. Sign up to answer questions.

14. Superior Content: If you have superior content other websites will want to link to yours. Having useful information on your website will sell the website for you and you will get backlinks without a lot of effort.

15. Contact Other Website Owners: This is the oldest and one of the best ways to get quality backlinks. Other webmasters likely get tons of requests for backlinks. Make your noticeable by offering them something in return. Content for their website, or a premium link from your site, are good motivators.

16. Squidoo Lenses: Squidoo is a website that lets it’s members create “lenses.” Lenses are articles on Squidoo. Place backlinks in your Squidoo lenses. Squidoo has a good pagerank with search engines.

17. HubPages: Like Squidoo, HubPages allows you to create an article. On HubPages it is called a hub. The links on most hubs created here are initially seen as no follow by search engine spiders. To change these links to follow, you need to boost your overall hub score to 75, or higher. This score appears on the upper right side of the page. Write quality hubs and log in frequently to update your hubs in order to increase your overall hub score.

What is Link Juice?

Link juice is Google’s currency. In other words, it’s the secret sauce that allows you to beat your competitors for rankings in Google. Of course there are other factors that Google uses to calculate rankings (see Search Engine Optimization), but link juice is the most important aspect of dominating Google and in order to understand Google, you have to understand link juice.

Google looks at how sites link to each other to figure out which ones are the best and have the relevant content.

How Many Links Does It Take to Get Ranked #1 in Google?

I get asked this question almost daily and there is never an easy way to answer it, but I will do my best.  Here’s the only way to answer this  – it depends 100% on the keyword (see Research Your Keywords). If a keyword isn’t competitive at all, it might take 1. For a keyword that’s super competitive, it might take  100,000,000.

Here is a quick and easy way to figure out the backlinking competition for a keyword.

  1. Search for the keyword in Google and save the top 4 sites that come up.
  2. Go to Yahoo and do a link domain search on each (search for linkdomain:eachurlhere.com). Yahoo will then list all of the pages that are linking to each URL.
  3. Make note of the total number of inlinks shown. This is probably the number you will have to beat, along with the next step.
  4. Check the PageRank of each page that;s linking to your competitors’ pages.

Count the number of links that have certain PageRank numbers. After you complete this process you should know how many pages have PR10, how many have PR9, how many have PR8, how many have PR7, how many have PR6, how many have PR5, how many have PR4, how many have PR3, how many have PR2, how many have PR1, and how many have PR0.

If you want to get ranked #1 in Google, you will basically need to beat your competition and that means you will have to first match what they have in their link profile and then beat them.

Let’s say that after checking your competitors’ links you find that the strongest site has 3 PR3 links, 15 PR2 links, 57 PR1 links, and 120 PR0 links. In order to beat them, you will need 4 PR3 links, 15 PR2 links, 57 PR1 links, and 120 PR0 links. Note: the best way to ensure a #1 ranking is to get more of the strongest PR links they have, and then match everything else. An alternative method for beating this site would be to get three PR3 links, 15 PR2 links, 57 PR1 links, and 250 PRO links. When you’re trying to move past a site by getting more PR0 links, you generally have to beat the number by a larger amount.

Overall the process isn’t that hard. You have to map out what your competitor has going and then beat it.

Those of you who are looking for a fast way to add up these numbers can use SEO Elite. It will gather this information for you. Those of you that need to save some money can just count them up manually – SEO Elite isn’t cheap ($167 SEO Elite is now $47 per month).

3 Reasons Why Looking Up Your Backlinks Are a Waste of Time

  1. Google on shows a sample of your backlinks – they show some of your links. In my opinion, Google shows even less than some.
  2. Yahoo is incredibly slow to update the links they show and sometimes can take up to 6 months to see a significant change. In addition yahoo doesn’t always list weaker links.
  3. MSN, wait I’m pretty sure MSN doesn’t exist anymore. Ok it does but it’s mostly useless.

Looking up your links is a great way to drive yourself temporarily insane. You will never find them all, so do yourself a favor and free from thinking you’re not getting anywhere by NOT looking for them.

I know most of you won’t be able to resist the urge, in that case fine, buy SEO Elite to make the experience a little less painfull.

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