Link Building: Beginner's Introduction to Basic Concepts

by Kris Scheben-Edey January 20th, 2011 

link-building-101

Things to keep in mind before we begin:

  • to succeed with SEO you need a complete strategy beyond links
  • you should not rely completely on links: links are only one of the hundreds of criteria taken into account when ranking your pages

Now for the fun part. Let's get down to business and start by thinking about links through a simple analogy we can all relate to – voting.

Links are like votes, and a link to your website is essentially a vote for it.

Votes can be bought or earned, but those who buy them are frowned upon when the polls are tallied – if you are found out.

You can receive all of your votes from one group of voters, but that isn't as powerful as receiving votes from many different groups.

Types of Links

Internal links are built from pages on your website to other pages on the same website.

Internal links are great for user navigation and help search robots crawl your site with ease.

As "self votes" these links have less value but do really help with associating a page with a keyword.

Internal links should be your first focus as you already have them. Control what you can, make the best of it.

External links represent the "votes" from one website to another. These are the most valuable to draw attention to your site and to increase your position in search results.

No-follow is an attribute any internal or external link can have.  Search engines treat such a link as if it doesn't exist: it's a non-counting vote.

Citations are no-follow links from noteworthy sources like Wikipedia can still be of significant value, exemplifying trust by association.

Link Value and Trust

To determine the value of a link, here are a few questions to ask:

1. Where is the link from? Is it a popular and trustworthy site?
2. Does the site show signs of spam, or sell links to other unrelated websites?
3. Is the site you're receiving a link from ranking well in search? Could it possibly have a "penalty?"

One quick way to get the basic idea of link value is to simply search for the website. Try a few different keywords during your search and make note of how well they rank. If the site in question ranks well, they could very well be a great source for a trusted, valuable link.

Link Diversity

It's important to have a diverse portfolio of links coming from varied sources that relate to your web content. Google and other search engines aren't impressed if all your links come from only one other site.

Just as important is your time line. If all your links are acquired in the same day it's like being a one-hit wonder compared to a rockstar legend. Growing your portfolio of links over time is an indicator that you can create value to visitors again and again – and search engines take notice.

Local Link Demographics for Local SEO

For companies with a local offering it's of growing importance to link within your demographic.

A link from the business across town, or your favorite customers' blog can go a long way projecting your local presence to the search engines and helps rank your site for searches relevant to your area.

Free Link Research Tools

How Many Links Do I Have?
Here are two free resources that give you an approximation of how many links you have to a certain URL.  Both services also show various other statistics and data that could be useful.

1. URLMetrix
2. Xinu

Where Are Links Coming From?
One free tool offered by Yahoo! is the Site Explorer which lists all the URL's linking to a specific page.  You can find it at http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com (link).

When Did I Get That Link?
A free service provided by Majestic SEO returns a basic graph of links over time in either a normalized or cumulative view. 

Kris Scheben-Edey

I'm a young marketing professional passionate about all forms of marketing. Currently, I have the opportunity to work with Switch Video which specializes in animated explainer videos and corporate video production. Fun fact? I have as many PJ's as pants... and I love it!

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7 Responses to “Link Building: Beginner's Introduction to Basic Concepts”

  1. Brad Harmon says:

    I like the suggestion of getting local links for local seo. If your business doesn't provide it's goods or services beyond the local community then these links can be very powerful in helping your target customers find your business.

  2. Kris Scheben-Edey says:

    You got it! Businesses with a strong presence in local markets can link within their demographic to help target their customers. In addition, you are creating signals to the search engine that your content is important to a local audience.

    Great comment Brad and thanks for stopping by!

  3. Matt says:

    So true about the value of getting hyper-local links from similar businesses etc. One way of doing this is to blog about local businesses in your niche that pop up in the local news.

    You're sure to rank highly for these terms since they wouldn't be saturated. Not only will you get some local traffic this way, but you'll also get the attention of those businesses. Every now and then one is sure to link back from their site or blog to your content, particularly if you had something nice to say about them!
    .-= Matt recently posted: New article directory with categories for Australian states =-.

    • Kris Scheben-Edey says:

      Excellent tips Matt!

      That certainly is a great way of attracting those local links and really generating some great awareness for your blog, or local website. I had not though of targeting businesses highlighted in local media, but that is an excellent point – why not focus on something that is already generating attention, and hasn't been saturated in local search?

      Way to think outside of the box. Thank you for your contribution to the article Matt!

  4. s yasmin says:

    Well, I have some questions to be clear. i am newbie and may be my question look so silly, so sorry for that in advance. It will helpful if described in a easy way for a beginner.

    I am from Bangladesh and i wanna to target Denmark visitors to visit my site. I want to do organic SEO. I am doing link building in google.dk search result pages. trying to visit most of .dk sites related to my service. But not sure will this bring me Denmark visitor and rank me top at google.dk????

    Does link building in different local google effect Google usa results? Coz other contry ranking increasing very slowly but USA ranking is boost up!!

    Pls exlain me well, i totally confused as i've been asked to increase ranking in google.dk and bring denmark visitors. What other techniques to use??? Thanks.

    • Ruud Hein says:

      Hi Yasmin. Maybe our expert article The International Link Building Guide can help?

    • Kris Scheben-Edey says:

      Hi Yasmin,

      Thanks for the comment. As Ruud pointed out, the International Guide can certainly provide some insight.

      A few other points for you to consider beyond link building:
      - Where is your server hosted? In Bangledesh, or Denmark?
      - Are you using a regional tld (.dk domain?) for your regional website?
      - Are you using language-specific terms to the region. (Danish?)

      Finally, you can help create these local signals with Google (and likely other SE's) through the "Webmaster Tools" demographic location feature.

      Do a quick search for webmaster tools, sign up and verify your site. From here you can specify the region you would like to your site to target – which in your case is Denmark.

      Link building is a great way to create these regional signals, but in order to have an effective and complete organic ranking you'll need to think beyond just the links.

      Hope this helps and best of luck!