<< by on January 5th, 2011
This post is part of a series in which I share my New Year’s resolutions in five different areas of SEO. In particular, today I want to discuss how to evaluate your website’s inbound links and linking strategy.
Why are links important for SEO?
Inbound links are an extremely important component of SEO. At its most basic, search engines see inbound links to your website as “votes” of confidence in your content. Of course, Google continues to get better and better at telling spammy links from legitimate ones. So today and going forward, it is important to find a strategy for cultivating the right kind of inbound links.
What types of links are valuable for SEO?
Not all links are created equal. For SEO, only certain types of links are especially valuable. Links that are NOT weighed very heavily at all in the Google ranking algorithm are:
- Paid links
- Reciprocal links (They link to you, and you link back to them).
- Nofollow links*
*(This is usually the case. However, there have recently been some changes in the ways that search engines value the links coming from social media platforms (like Twitter) which have historically been nofollow links. Look for the treatment of social media links to evolve throughout 2011).
In addition to the three basic requirements above, your inbound links should also ideally:
- Come from many other sites
- Come from authoritative sites
- Come from sites whose content is related to yours
- Possess targeted anchor text
What to consider in the New Year?
Even if your website already has a link building strategy in place, it is always a great idea to take another look at all the options you have for cultivating valuable links. Here are some ideas you can consider:
1. Blog- By now, corporate blogging has pretty much become a given. If you don’t have a corporate blog, you should strongly consider what it would take to get one up and running. Not only can a blog establish you as a subject matter expert, but it is a great tool to cultivate inbound links from other related sites. If your blog content is good, other authors will reference it and link back to you.
2. Digital assets- In addition to blogs, companies often have other types of digital assets that can be used to cultivate inbound links. Do you have any of the following types of content?
- white papers
- video tutorials
- presentation slides
- press releases
Most of the types of content above can be re-purposed as other types. And once you’ve got a library of content, distribute it through the right channels so that it gets exposed to the right audience and can start being re-published and cultivating links back to your site. When using your own content to cultivate links, there is one question you should always ask yourself. Does your content inspire linking from other sites? Make sure it’s compelling; then make sure you share it with the right audience.
3. Contests- Link building expert Debra Mastaler has pointed out that there are some competitive and heavily-blogged industries which do not lend themselves as much to pushing content. So in those instances, consider hosting an industry contest. In her case study on using a contest for link building, Debra points out that linking back to the main website was not actually required to participate in the contest. Even without that requirement, the links came in from a number of related, authoritative sites.