Free SEO Course Part Five: External Linking

Following on from Part Four “Site Structure and Internal Linking“. This is Part Five of a series of posts forming a beginners guide to search engine marketing techniques in 2007.

  • Search engines are based on the principle of evaluating link data in order to help determine ranking. So, the most important aspect of ranking well is external linking. That is, the strength of the links pointing to your page/site.
  • “Strength”, in terms of linking, is difficult to define. Generally speaking, a link from a well ranking page in your topic area has more strength than a link from a poorly ranking page outside your topic area.
  • When it comes to ranking, quality linking often trumps quantity.
  • In order to get links, webmasters often use a combination of strategies. These strategies involve requesting links, buying links, and attracting links.
  • One aspect of link acquisition that often isn’t covered in linking guides is a holistic one. Some sites, by virtue of their approach to publishing, are more “linkable” than others. For example, it is unlikely a competitor is going to link their brochure site to your brochure site, as you are in direct competition. However they may link to your site if you provide an authoritative, independent resource – like providing news.
  • Link swapping, in 2007, has limited use, mainly because sites that tend to swap links based on link swapping requests tend to be of low quality, so aren’t sharing much in the way of reputation value. It is more desirable to devise a strategy where people want to link to you, without the need to request or reciprocate. You can do this by providing unique value, or as Seth Godin puts it “be remarkable” (i.e. be worth remarking on).
  • Get listed in directories and portals relating to your topic area. Not all directories and portals are of equal value, so compare advertising opportunities. Evaluation is difficult to summarize, however here’s a good general guide to evaluating pages, if the value is not otherwise immediately obvious.
  • Links need to be crawlable. That is, a search spider needs to be able to follow them. They also need to pass reputation value. It can often be difficult to evaluate if a link is passing reputation value, due to various tricks and traps, however most HTML links will. Remember, all links have value besides ranking value. Generally speaking, any link is a good link, because it indicates the passing of attention from one page to the next. Search engines will always try to evaluate, and attach value to, attention.

Next: Tricks, traps, and other stuff.

Leave a Reply