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Last Updated on September 22, 2020 by Arif Chowdhury
I have written this guide for both new and expert website owners, so all types of people can benefit from it. In this technology era, there is always so much to learn, especially in search engine optimization. Link building is one of the oldest techniques since the beginning of search engines, however, it has changed a lot since then but the importance of high-quality link building has never changed instead it is still growing every day.
That’s why you need to understand the mechanism of link building if you want to grow your website online and beat your competitors. Don’t worry link building is not going to fade away because it is the lifeblood of search engines. First of all, I am going to discuss what is link building and then why it is important, it is a huge chunk of data to digest, therefore, no need to hurry, let me elaborate it to you step by step.
Definition: What is Link Building?
In simple terms, link building is like a vote from other websites. Let’s just say the other 10 relevant websites giving a vote to your website. It is a form of recommendation that your website is good, informative & trustworthy.
Google uses this vote to determine your rank and also there are hundreds of factors included with it. This vote from another site is called link building. For example, when you visit a website and within an article or blog post, you find a link to an external website is an example of hyperlink or link in short form. Using this hyperlink users can surf from website to website.
Search engines like Google have spider bot whose main task is to crawl from website to website using this hyperlink to index new web pages in their search directory. Google usually gives importance to those links, which comes from a high authority site like Wikipedia for example. As it is a high authority site therefore if any link comes from this site Google will consider them important & trustworthy.
Though it is a simple definition. However building links is the hardest part of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) that many experts believe. There are many forms of link building strategy & they vary from each other based on types and difficulty. Many big brands hire SEO experts & spend thousands of dollars every month only for this purpose. Therefore, if you can master in link building then surely you can outlast your competitors easily.
Before I talk about the importance of link building, let me give you some insight into Hyperlink. You need to have a clear understanding of a hyperlink if you want to become a master of link building.
It starts with “<a” , it is the beginning of an anchor tag & hyperlink. It tells Google spider bot that it is a link and something internal or external page will be about to follow.
Then the 2nd part is “href=”…”>” it is a hyperlink referral & it indicates a webpage. Not necessarily always have to be a webpage, it can be anything else from image, file, audio or video, etc. Sometimes when a link pointing a location on the same page then it starts with a # tag.
The 3rd part “Example” is an anchor text. This is the visible part of a link that you always see whenever a link appears on a webpage. It indicates a text that describes what that link is all about & it usually has blue color so users can easily differentiate the link from a text.
The 4th and final part is the “</a>” tag, it tells search engine spider bot that hyperlink ended here.
How Search Engines Utilize Links?
Let me enlighten you on how search engines utilize a link & why it is important to them. There are several uses of a link to search engines, 1st it is used to find new content all over the internet and index. The 2nd purpose is to rank every individual webpage in their SERP (Search Engine Result Page) based on importance & trustworthiness. So search engine users can quickly find relevant websites & useful information whenever they do a search.
Now let’s dig for more information
Every search engine has its unique spider bot that main purpose is to search for new pages and index it in their database. When spider bot crawls new pages they scan the entire content of that page from text to images and even videos to find out keywords. Now do not forget that search engines are basically robots; they do not actually understand text, image, or video at all no matter how smart they get nowadays. Still, they do not possess human-level intelligence, thus, they always search for keywords and define a page based on that.
For example, in this blog post, I am talking about link building. Now any human can easily understand this topic by reading the headline & some text within it. However, search engines try to understand what type of content it is by scanning keywords volume & density. In this blog post, there are so many keywords related to link building & SEO. And by counting these “keywords density” search engines will determine this article is all about SEO and link building.
Recommended Video: from Google about How Search Works?
There are Many Unknown Factors Google use to Rank a Website
Now counting the density of keywords is just a single factor among the hundreds of how Google ranks a website. Though I can give you a guarantee that, how many external links pointing to a web page is a major factor that Google uses to determine the popularity of a website.
And this is called a link from another site. Google counts these links as votes towards the popularity of this webpage & rank according to it. Therefore, when links come from a poor quality website Google gives it a little value to none. While a link from high-quality website counts as a powerful vote.
Google has its own algorithm therefore, no one actually knows how the formula works. I can only give you a brief idea. Though links from other high authority websites are a crucial factor that Google uses. And started to dominate all other search engines since 2000. One of the Google co-founder Larry Page invented this “Page Rank” later it is known as “Domain Authority”.
Google uses this authority metric to rank a web page hierarchy based on how many external links pointing to that web page. Based on this metric Google now determines which page has higher quality than others does. And ranks them in the search result page based on that.
Though initially, it was an awesome strategy to rank high-quality web pages. However, people tried to cheat Google spider bot by controlling keyword density and manipulating links from other sites.
Recommended Readings: 200 Factors How Google Rank A Website?
New Evolution in Link Attribution
To give quality service Google had no other choice but to implement a new algorithm to remove previous techniques that Google itself recommended. One called “Website Directories” people used to submit their website and get a backlink from there. It was a popular link building strategy back then. However, people tried to trick Google by selling those links to other poor quality webpages those who wanted to rank higher. This is how manipulating links began.
And after a while because of these abuses and overuse of techniques. Google removed those of link building strategy from their algorithm to make it clean again.
But that was just the beginning every year Google invented a new algorithm to prevent rank manipulation from dishonest webmasters. A recent change in algorithm name “Penguin update” prevents webmasters from overuse of search engine optimization. Such as keyword density now has to be natural. Keyword stuffing will no longer rank you higher instead it will rank you down.
Recommended Readings: How to Increase Rank in Google for Targeted Keywords?
Anatomy of Ranking Factors (Researched by Experts)
How Google ranking algorithm works is still a mystery as it is a company secret, they never published in public. Though according to MOZ there are some factors we can discuss here & link building is a major part of it.
They have asked over 150 SEO experts to build up survey data and this is what they found. If you look at this survey data there are 9 total factors they have talked about. However, these are just major ranking factors there are hundreds of other factors exist that Google uses. And we do not have any idea about it.
Most importantly we don’t even need to know, just honest from your side, and Google will take care of you. Now here if we look at these factors then the 1st & most influential factor is “Domain-Level Link Feature”. And the 2nd one is “Page-Level Link Feature”. As you can see over 150 SEO experts believe that the most influential ranking factors are how many quality backlinks are pointing to your site & there is no alternate of it.
The 3, 4 & 5 number factor is all about “relevant keywords” and “audience engagements”. In my opinion, when you write an article relevant keywords will be added naturally. So there is no need to be cautious about that. For example, while I am writing this link-building guide, do I have to be cautious about specific keywords? No, it will happen automatically & my suggestion is, do not try to add keywords manually unless your specific keywords density is too low.
And talking about “audience engagements” this completely depends on the quality of your writing, you cannot control audience engagements. So, this factor is also automatic and all you have to do is write high-quality engaging content and if your audience loves it then it will automatically become engaging content.
So, the verdict is, you have to write high-quality engaging content and get yourself high-quality backlinks from high authority sites to get rank high enough in Google SERP (Search Engine Result Page).
Though do not forget about social media signals like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram sharing & liking. In that recent “Penguin” update experts believe that social signals also play a big role in link building. But in my opinion social signals will come naturally. When you get thousands of visitors per month, you do not even need to think about social sharing and likings, because your audience will naturally do that for you.
Okay now let’s talk about high-quality link building, what is the “high quality” meaning. And why Google is getting more sophisticated about “high quality” links.
Definition: What is nofollow Links?
You may have already heard about “nofollow” short of things. When you visit a website and click on a link you have no idea about whether it is a nofollow or dofollow link. Simply because this nofollow or dofollow is not meant for you.
In simple terms, this attribute is not for users instead it is for search engines and coded in HTML format just like these.
“<a href=”http://www.example.com” rel=”nofollow”>Example</a>”
While dofollow link looks like this
So, the only difference is rel=”nofollow” which tells search engines that “I am not voting for this guy”. Simple as that.
Now, why does a website do that? There could be so many reasons behind it, but in most cases, a website uses this attribute to a link when it has no control over it or takes some time to decide on that link.
For example, in a popular blog comment section there could be few to hundreds of comments posted with links by the audience. And even if the blog owner can remove those links manually, however, it will take a huge amount of time to do that. If that blog has hundreds of blog posts then just imagine how many comments will publish.
And exactly in that scenario, there is no control over the links and it is obvious that the blog owner has no idea about all the links their audience have posted in comments. Maybe they are trustworthy, maybe not. Maybe those are malware links, who knows?
And for safekeeping, blog owners use the “nofollow” attribute to these links and effectively tell search engines not to trust them, at least blog owners have no idea about them. There is another reason for using this “nofollow” attribute, back then until 2005 spammer used this opportunity to rank their page in search engines.
They could easily do this by commenting on other high authoritative websites and get a link back to their site. Because of that reason, many spam websites get high rank in Google & to prevent this Google implemented “nofollow” attribute.
Therefore, by using the “nofollow” attribute a blog owner stays on the safe side, however, a link that gets the “nofollow” attribute won’t get as much benefit as it would get from a normal “dofollow” link.
Recommended Readings: What is a Nofollow link?
There is another purpose of adding the “nofollow” attribute in the external links that are paid links or advertisement links. Google suggests a website owner uses the “nofollow” attribute to their paid links so search engines won’t pass a value to them. The reason is that an advertisement can be done by paying; however, the organic ranking value shouldn’t pass to them as it is not based on quality rather based on money.
Not just for blog comments, forum posts & paid/advertising links but also press releases, advertorials & article directories links are suggested to have a “nofollow” attribute to reduce the easy ranking opportunity.
Why Should You Waste Your Time in “nofollow” Links?
Well, the answer is, do not even bother. Because some experts believe that if you do have 100% dofollow backlinks then you are in great trouble. Because Google will take your domain suspicious as spam. That you might have bought those links from different high authority websites, otherwise you would have some nofollow links as well.
Therefore, to make it more natural-looking your domain profile has to have both dofollow and nofollow links. Besides, if you look at the high authority website like “Quora” all of their question and answer links are “nofollow”. However, even after that all big brands, experts & leaders are marching to Quora to contribute in question answers.
Why is that? Simple, in a high traffic website like Quora (470 Million visitors per month) it doesn’t matter whether it is dofollow or nofollow. Google will count that link for something & also think about the massive organic traffic you may get from your answer. Therefore, your task is to get as many dofollow and nofollow links as possible, just forget about what attribute they have, target on a high-quality website with massive organic traffic, that’s it.
How Link Building Can Grow Your Business?
Now let’s talk about business. How to grow your online business through website link building and become profitable in the long-run?
The simple & straightforward reason is getting high quality free organic traffic to your website. Think about “Quora” they are getting 470 Million visitors in every single month without paying a single penny for it, how did they manage to do this?
By advertising? No, by building links from other websites and becoming popular to the hearts of their audience as well. If you cannot win the hearts of your audience then building a strong backlink profile is useless. So, your primary task is to build a strong backlink profile & Google will rank you higher in their SERP (Search Engine Result Page) and you will get millions of organic visitors every month & finally, your business will beat the competitors.
Build an Everlasting Relationship with Other Webmasters
This is the only benefit that you get from search engines by building a strong backlink profile however, there are more benefits on the way. Don’t forget about building relationships can also be done through links from other sites. Just like brick and mortar businesses you build alliances with other businesses by exchanging cards, gifts, resources for production, etc.
Same goes here in online business, you are giving value by writing quality content to other websites and in exchange, they are offering you a dofollow link pointing back to your website. Not only that will benefit search engines ranking but also their audience will see your content along with your business name with it, you gain exposure and new customers.
Take Advantage of Referral Traffics from Relevant Websites
Gaining Referral traffic is another benefit you may get by receiving links from relevant websites. Though it doesn’t matter what type of attribute that link has, you will get targeted visitors to your site and hopefully more revenue along with it.
Ask yourself how many times you have learned about new websites by clicking on links. Did you ever know what kind of link is that? Even getting hundreds of “nofollow” links from different relevant websites can get you thousands of extra visitors every single month. Experts believe having many links from relevant sites can also increase your website ranking regardless of dofollow or nofollow links.
Establishing a Brand is the Ultimate Link Building
Finally, you are walking towards the brand building by doing link building to other websites. There are many opportunities out there you can write a guest post to different websites, answer questions to Quora & other similar sites. Start a discussion in similar forums that are related to your business.
Here are some websites for you to get started your link building campaign
Question & Answer:
Recommended Reading: How to Start a Link Building Campaign?
Forget about “dofollow” or “nofollow” just remember every single link count unless you are spamming your link or you are getting a massive amount of backlinks from spam websites.
At the end of this guide about link building, I want to tell you one last thing, is that – Before you do anything else about link building try to build your website as much value as possible. Just think this way If you have a bag of dust & want to sell it. No matter how much you spend in the advertisement, do you think people will buy that?
Therefore, it doesn’t matter how smart you are in marketing or link building if your website or product has low value then all of your link building efforts will go in vain. In other cases, if you can build value & trust then people will love to share your content, and eventually, it will go viral.
Then you do not even have to build links for yourself because your audience will do that for you by sharing it all over the internet. Yes, leverage the power of “go viral” and your audience will take care of your link building campaign, you just sit back and watch how your business grows.