I get lots of questions about linking, and in our SEO class, we actually have a whole section devoted just to linking. Most people are under the impression that the more links you have, the better. This is true to a certain extent, but we need to explain a little and qualify that statement.
External Links or Internal Links?
Before we get too deep into it though, there are basically two types of links. External links are links from someone else’s Web site that links to your Web site. They are external to you and probably mostly out of your control. An internal link is one in which you link from one page on your Web site to another page. You should have full control over internal links. In this post, we’re going to specifically deal with external links only.
More Links Are Better Right?
It used to be that the search engines valued links between Web sites because the more you had, the assumption was that the more “important” your Web site was. So people starting linking willy-nilly to each other. Google quickly realized that most of these links were junk, and really didn’t help them to understand what the Web site was about.
Google started assigning a quality score to the links, and now only counts “quality” links to be a factor in your Web site position on the search engine results page (SERP). So it may be that you have hundreds of links to your site, but only a handful actually do you any good.
How do you find out? The easiest way to check it out is to go to Google and type in:
Google will display what it considers “quality” links. If you type that very same command into Yahoo!, you’ll likely get a very different answer. Yahoo! displays all the links that they know about, not just “quality” links. We like to tell our clients that they should have at least 30 quality links coming back to their site.
What’s a Quality Link?
OK, so how do you know what a quality link looks like so you can build more? Very simply, any link coming back to your Web site should have the actual keyword phrase in the link text, and that link text should be surrounded by lots of good quality text. So for instance, an online article about proper pet nutrition with a link in the middle like “low calorie diets for dogs” pointing to a page on your Web site that talks about low calorie diets for dogs, would be considered a great quality link. Note that the <title>, “description” and <h1> tags on the target page should all talk about “low calorie diets for dogs” too – so it all matches up.
These links as much as you can, should point to internal pages on your site, so-called “deep-linking”, rather than just your Home page.
Pages that have links pointing to you with just your domain URL or a “read more” or “click here” type link do you no good! They may provide a path for others to follow you to your site, but from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective, it does no good.
Where Can You Build Quality Links?
Some examples of places you can build good quality links back to your site that you have control over include:
- Business blogs (like this one!)
- Online news releases
- Article Web sites like Evan Carmichael, TechCrunch or a long list of others
Basically anywhere you can control the content and the actual link text is a fantastic opportunity. If someone is going to link to you, ask them to format it with a rich keyword phrase and some surrounding text that deep-links to your site, rather than just a link to your home page URL.