Linking – Take Your SEO Knowledge Up A Notch

External Linking

After interviewing for my replacement, I realised that whilst many client side marketers claim they have experience in SEO, usually their experience doesn’t extend beyond the basics. In particular most seem to think that SEO is no more than onsite copy optimisation.

Yes as client side marketers we can’t be experts at everything but I strongly believe you cannot manage something if you don’t understand it. Thus it is time for client side marketers to move their SEO knowledge up a notch and understand one of the other core SEO strategies – LINKING.

In this 2 part series, I will detail 20 of the most important things you need to know about linking:

1. It’s a 2 sided affair; There are 2 sides to linking strategies – internal and external (back links) and both are important. Part 1 of this series will cover some of the most important considerations for external link building.

External Linking

2. PR is not the only way; There are many different techniques to build links outside of PR some of the most widely utilised include;
* Article Sites
* Free Directories (said to be decreasing in importance but still valuable)
* Social Media Campaigns
* Blogs
* Paid Directories (use sparingly but Yahoo Directory is a must)
* Partner sites
* Institutions / Industry Bodies / Government Sites

3. Not all links were created equal; A key part of Google’s algorithm is based on its PageRank calculation which determines the popularity of a site based on a number of factors. PageRank isn’t just about the total number of inbound links your site has, some links will hold more value than others. Thus when identifying suitable sites for back linking purposes, look for those that possess a Google page rank of 3 or above.

SEO and Content Strategy4. Deep links are important; External back linking strategies should aim to build deep links into a site, not just link to a sites home page.

5. It’s not what you link, it is how you do it; Link context and position on an external site is as important as the link itself. When obtaining a link try to ensure your link is coded with descriptive text. In addition it is important to consider the number of other links on the page. Back links will receive their share of influence based on this information so a listing on a high ranking website will still have little effect if there are dozens of other links listed.

6. Beware of the no follow tag Many sites particularly the popular ones ie Wikipedia don’t pass page rank as the sites links are tagged with what is called the no follow tag. To identify if a site is using the no follow tag use the Firefox Search Status plug in

7. Don’t pay the price; Extensive paid links can result in your site being penalised by Google. Refer to the Matt Cutts comments in late 07 on the issue

8. Socially aware; Social media sites don’t pass rage rank. But this doesn’t mean they are not a useful source of link creation as the collaborative web allows content to be distributed and syndicated onto third party sites. Thus social media can provide a less labour intensive tactic to build back links for SEO purposes.

9. There is more to linking than page rank; Many SEOs lose sight of the other benefits of linking. Whilst some sites may not pass the valuable link juice there is still a significant benefit to external site links. For instance if you can obtain a link on a third party site which ranks well within search engines, this can provide an opportunity to dominate search results and increase traffic to your site.

10. Maintain Control; If you are outsourcing your linking strategy to an SEO agency ensure you know the potential back links sources. Many organisations do not know which sites are being used for external linking strategies and it is not uncommon to hear of brands whose links have ended up on spammy sites or worse on those with adult content.

11. The future is real; Whilst the past few years have been dominated by artificial linking efforts, the future will see Google place higher importance on real popularity gained through social media.

Have you got any tips for external link building, if so add them here.

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