Search Engine Optimisation and Links
Important aspects of SEO from the word go, links remain important indicators of relevant, important content. Until Google rolled out the ‘Penguin’, the focus of link building was predominantly on quantity, rather than quality of links. Since the arrival of this ‘beastie’, however, many previously accepted practices of generating links became unacceptable.
Such practices included, for example:
- Buying or trading links
- Link Wheels (networks of sites created purely for the purpose of building links)
- Use of blog networks
- Links from irrelevant/ low quality sites
Anything remotely reminiscent of spam, like article marketing, poor quality or excessive blog comments, for example, is equally no longer seen as acceptable.
Link building is no longer a matter of generating as many links as possible, but has shifted to the necessity to earn links of quality and value to readers. Links can, for instance, be earned by:
- Creating high quality, engaging content people naturally link to
- Promoting content to place it in front of target audiences naturally motivated to share/ link to it
- Building good relationships leaving industry/ niche influences save in the knowledge that content is of high quality and of sufficient value to link to and share
While earning links still makes a strategic approach necessary, it is about value and quality, rather than numbers.
Assessing Link Quality
The need for quality links was emphasised by Google’s Penguin update. Sketchy links can damage a Websites ranking and credibility quicker than anything else. It is therefore elementary to assess any given potential link’s quality before cultivating connections. Here are a few questions to ask in order to assess the quality of a possible link:
- Is the site linked to topically relevant to your content?
- Are the site’s design and organisation professional and clean?
- Is the content published on the site of high quality?
- Is the site’s content developed/ selected by clear editorial efforts?
- Do comments, mentions and social media engagement suggest the site has an active community?
- How does the site’s incoming link profile look?
- Is there excessive advertising on the site?
Finally, ask yourself whether you really would be comfortable with your business/ brand being associated with the site.
Shifting Focus for Quality Links
By shifting focus from link building to link earning, you can create a foundation helpful in attracting valuable links from top niche/ industry authorities.