All About Link Building

What is link building? 

  • Link building is the practice of getting external sites to hyperlink to your site. A hyperlink is a link that is used to help users navigate from one site to another. 
  • Search engines use links to crawl web pages. They crawl links on webpages and links that are shared between pages. 
  • Why is link building important? Link building helps improve your SEO. Building high-quality links helps improve your rank in search results. 

The Basics:

  1. How is a link created? 
  2. How do search engines see links?
  3. What to search engines interpret from these links? 


1. Start of link tag

  • Called the anchor "a" 
  • It opens up the link tag and tells search engines that a link to another destination is to follow 

2. Link referral location 

  • Hyperlink referral "href" 

  • The text within the quotation marks " " is the URL or destination the link is pointing to 
  • The destination could be a webpage, address of an image or file to download 
  • If the text begins with a # - these are local links that take you to a different section of your current page 

3. Visible/anchor text of link

  • This is the text that is visible to users on the page

  • If they click on it, it will open the referral location 
  • This text is usually formatted to stand out from the rest of the text and to show users it is clickable - blue and/or underlined

4. Closure of link tag 

  • This tells search engines it is the end of the link tag 

What links mean for search engines

Search engines use links to: 

(1) To discover new web pages

(2) To determine the rank of a page in search results 

Search engines crawl pages on the web to extract content and store it in their indexes. 

    See video created by Google for more information on how search works.

Links are a ranking factor in determining a page's rank in search results 

  • Search engines use links to determine the quality of a page - they consider the number of external sites that link to a page, and quality of those external sites. If the external sites that link to you are high quality, your site rank in search results will likely increase.

It is unknown what the full algorithm Google uses to determine how its search results are ranked. However, many believe links still play a vital role in the algorithm.

Domain-level link features (quantity of links to domain, trust/quality of links to the domain, etc.) and page-level link features (quantity of link links, anchor text distribution, quality of link sources, etc.) are believed to be the two largest weighting factors in determining search rank. 

  • High quality links will help with your search rank and site traffic - use link building techniques that focus on quality (see links below). 
  • If two sites are ranked equally, the volume and quality of links will make the difference between rankings.

For more information on Link Building: 

Types of Links (Good and Bad)

How to Start a Link Building Campaign

Link Building Tactics

Link Building Metrics

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly of Link Building

Advanced Link Building Tips and Tricks

What you need to know about nofollow

A nofollow link doesn't look any different to the user but is structured differently in the code.

Below is an example of a nofollow link: 

<a href=""rel="nofollow">Example</a>

Note the addition of rel="nofollow"

The nofollow attribute can be added to links. Adding this attribute to links tells search engines that the link shouldn't be trusted and shouldn't increase the targeted sites' page rank.

When is the nofollow attribute used?

Sites often use the no follow attribute when they don't have control over the links that are added to their page. 

The nofollow link attribute is commonly used on: 

  • Blog comments
  • Forum posts
  • Guest book comments
  • Editable Wiki pages
  • Yahoo! Answers
  • Guest post signatures

Users of these sites have the freedom to post whatever they want and add links to any page. Sites that can't monitor the activity that occurs on their site often apply the nofollow attribute to all links posted by their Users. This ensures that link spammers don't take advantage of the site's PageRank.

The nofollow attribute is also used by advertisers for links on their site that have been paid for. 

For example, if you purchase an ad banner on a website that clicks through to your site, the nofollow attribute should be added to the link telling Google to not pass the PageRank across to the destination URL. 

Should I still link build if the nofollow attribute is added?

The purpose of link building is to build followed links. However, it is still worthwhile to link build even when the nofollow attribute is applied

  • The nofollow attribute doesn't help your organic search rankings, as the PageRank isn't passed through
  • The nofollow attribute is not visible to Users - Users may still click through and visit your page, even when the nofollow attribute is added 

You can use the Moz Bar tool to determine which links are follow or nofollow  

How can link building benefit my business?

As discussed, link building helps increase your rank in search engines. 

Other benefits of link building include: 

Building Relationships:

  • A part of link building often requires outreaching to others in your industry to share content you've created.
  • The objective of outreaching to others in your industry is to get a link to your site. However, outreach can also help establish relationships with other key people in your industry, which can help build trust behind your business.

Sending Referral Traffic:

  • Links can have a positive impact on referral traffic
  • A link from a popular website can help increase your site traffic 
  • If the referring site has followers of similar interest an increase in site traffic, may also increase sales. 

Brand Building: 

  • Link building can help you build your brand and become a dominant player in your industry
  • A link building technique like content creation can help build your brand
  • For example, you can create content with data about your industry 
    • Reach out to others in your industry to get links to the content. This will help build your brand and show your expertise within your niche. 

The importance of link "earning"

  • Before you start link building, create pages that are worth linking to
  • Build pages that are of value to your audiences and those in your industry
  • Create share-worthy content 


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