SEO Services Homepage - Basics : Website Structure - Page Content - SERPs and the competition - Stats and Analysis - Search Engine Submission - Back Link Strategy - Webmaster Guidelines - Glossary
Hyperlinks are the key element of the web's interconnectedness. Without a link from somewhere else a website sits out there adrift, with only the owner, designer and their clients and friends knowing about its existence. Without a route via which the search engines' bots can find a site it isn't going to be discovered by them either, it won't get indexed and you certainly won't be rewarded with any quality placements in the SERPs. Without good links, paid advertising or other traffic generation methods are the only ways to ensure a steady flow of visitors to a site. The essential thing to remember, however, is that the quality of links to your pages is of paramount importance. Just a few very high quality backlinks will have far greater value to you as a webmaster than a bag full of poor ones.
What constitutes a good link?
In an ideal world the link to your site will be one of just a few on a page. It will be a standard (non-redirected) hypertext link with relevant anchor text from a respected, content rich, frequently indexed and genuinely high PR page where that page's content is closely related to the topic of your own site. It will have been placed there by merit of its relevance and without commercial payment or reciprocal agreement.
What constitutes a low value, worthless or even bad link?
Links from sites with no original content, no web presence, bad neighbourhoods, 'link farms' or identikit web directories (excepting DMOZ.org) will deliver little or no benefit to your site. Links that are tagged "nofollow" may deliver some traffic if they are prominently placed but will not help you in the search engine results pages. Triangular linking arrangements may seem to be a way to get around the direct reciprocal link problem, but search engine technology can usually see through the tactic. Furthermore, these backlink placements are commonly offered by SEO companies at one of their own sites, rather than another web property belonging to the client. If the client decides to terminate their relationship the links back to you often disappear. Links that are sitting amongst hundreds of others on a page will pass little benefit, either in terms of SEO value or actual visitors, especially if the links it is cohabiting with are related to varied and unconnected topics.
How do you go about getting links?
The ideal way to get quality one way links is to create a site that becomes an authority in its field, a valuable resource that others will actively want to link to because they know that its content will be of interest to their own visitors. Naturally the "ideal way" is very often far removed from the real world and it is the webmaster's job to raise the profile and awareness of their site amongst other admins and owners. This does mean networking and getting to know your peers. It does not involve sending out automated requests, unsolicited promotional material or other methods bordering on 'spam' as this is only likely to infuriate experienced web admins managing established sites, who may well receive thousands of this type of message every week.
Organic backlink growth
An imporant factor in a backlink strategy is to ensure that they are increasing in number continuously, from a range of IP addresses and properties owned and maintained by a diverse collection of webmasters around the world. This natural growth is difficult to fake and any engine's bots finding a host of poor quality links to your site one day when none existed the previous, and then very few, if any, emerging over the coming months is a giveaway sign that you have been trying to bait them with an aggressive and ill thought out backlink strategy. Just as the site itself should grow over time, so should the number of routes back to it.
What about Paid Text Links?
There is nothing fundamentally wrong with Paid Text Links if they are treated purely as an advertising method. In this scenario, if they are tagged "nofollow" should not concern the webmaster as they are not paying for them in the hope of some SEO reward. Buying text links on the expectation of SERP positioning benefits is, however, a risky strategy but one that nonetheless many people choose to follow. One must remember though that, just like search marketing ads, there is the need to maintain this level of exposure and budget for it accordingly, month after month, for your site's continuing visibility.
The Importance of the "Anchor Text"
Far too often you will see a link listed like "Great site about XYZ facts and fiction - Link here" but unfortunately the anchor text (that part of the description which is hyperlinked) is not related to the topic. In this case, if the anchor text is only "Link here" which has little to do with XYZ facts and fiction, a large portion of that link's potential is squandered. The anchor text is very important as it tells both a visitor and a search engine's bots what topic to expect once they follow that link. The more relevant the anchor text to the destination site the better and the better you will perform in searches for those keywords and phrases that you are targeting.
Links and PR - Page Rank
PR - You will hear 'Page Pank' thrown around in some quarters as if it is the holy grail of SEO and the only metric worth following. Although agreeing that it is important, and high PR pages can deliver a great boost to your SERP positions under optimum conditions, a few caveats have to be considered. Firstly there is the serious issue of 'fake Page Rank' where a site may show high PR but it has been 'acquired' from a legitimately high ranking page by unscrupulous use of redirects. Secondly a link amongst hundreds of others on a page is only going to gain and pass a small amount of that page's potential PR 'link love' and finally a domain offering links may, in fact, be one that has recently dropped or changed hands. Without the content weight of the original site the links to it will rapidly drop away and the page where a backlink to your site appears may see its PR fall as the search engines' algorithms downgrade the value of it and the domain as a whole.
The "nofollow" tag or 'link condom'
The "nofollow" tag was introduced a few years ago as Google's attempt to get webmasters to declare the nature of the links they were including in their pages. It is intended for links where the placement is a paid one or where the trustworthiness and 'good neighbourhood' status of the destination site has not been fully established. It is designed as a declaration to the search bots that the link is not to be followed and PR not to be passed. The original assumption was that suspected paid links that were not tagged "nofollow" would be liable to a penalty on the site hosting the link, as well as a negative impact on the destination site. In reality, however, its implementation and impact has been patchy, with many webmasters tagging links that would never before have been seen as a problem, out of concern that its absence may have a negative effect, and others getting away with widescale linkage abuse without any determinable penalty.
Redirected links (through a database, meta "refresh" page or other means) have traditionally caused problems for site admins. At best their value will be lower than a standard link and at worst they may even 'page jack' the destination page's content. Site admins should be wary of them before they have verified that no negative effect will be felt, but in any case direct backlinks are far more desirable.
SEOServices.org.uk - Search Engine Optimisation Services - Page created October 2007 - Updated ?