Link Building – the Long Road to Success
The aim of link building is to generate as many links as possible from other websites that are classified as high-quality and useful by users as well as search engines. It is therefore a matter of networking one’s own site in a meaningful way and thus making it more successful.
Links (HTLM references) from one website to another are also called backlinks. Backlinks are interpreted by search engines as a sign of a recommendation of the link provider and rewarded accordingly. This positive influence of link building on the ranking of your own site has led, among other things, to links being bought, rented and exchanged as well as the creation of so-called link farms. In the meantime, however, the algorithms of search engines have evolved and are able to include the quality of backlinks in the evaluation and to recognize unnatural link building. Those who continue to rely on artificial link building risk being punished by search engines and being downgraded in the ranking or completely removed from the index.
Nevertheless, backlinks are still incredibly valuable for websites. Especially references from established, trustworthy and popular websites lead to significant success and ranking improvements. The value of the link provider is an important factor in the evaluation by search engines. It is also referred to as linkjuice and is forwarded to the target page with the link to a certain extent. The more links a page has, the less linkjuice is passed on per link. Link providers can use nofollow links to prevent a link from being rated and the linkjuice from being lost.
How to Build Backlinks
There are different strategies for link building. Some are rewarded by search engines, others are punished – if they are discovered. The most common methods are presented below:
- Good Content
The most sustainable and secure way to new links is good and especially individual content that creates natural backlinks. This is what Google wants and most SEO experts recommend. “Real” recommendations should replace active link building. The more useful the content, the more likely it is that users will recommend the site to others and link to it.
- Place Links Yourself
The simplest way of link building is to place backlinks in forums, directories, comments, etc. that fit the topic. Care should be taken to ensure that the websites are reputable and of high value. You should also keep in mind that e.g. bloggers often mark the placed links with a nofollow tag to avoid spam in their blog comments.
- Link Purchase
Despite the penalties imposed by search engines, links continue to be purchased. Usually this means that SEO agencies select suitable websites from their lists where you can book and buy links. The lists, in turn, come from link brokers and contain several hundreds or thousands of domains, including large daily newspapers or magazines. Most companies have become very careful when it comes to purchasing backlinks. When selecting possible link providers, they pay more attention to the fact that these pages are reputable. Large daily newspapers are particularly popular. Whether this strategy is meaningful and above all sustainable, remains to be seen, because search engines also know these link networks/link providers.
- Link Exchange
When exchanging links, two website operators agree to link to each other. The link can simply be between two websites (reciprocal) or via several websites (non-reciprocal) – provided at least one of the exchange partners operates two or more websites. Reciprocal link exchange is recognized by search engines. According to experts, it is not punished, but the success is to turn out clearly smaller, than with non-reciprocal linking. An ideal link exchange would look like this: Domain A (exchange partner 1) linked to domain B (exchange partner 2). Domain C (exchange partner 2) linked to domain D (exchange partner 1).
How Does a Good Link Profile Look Like?
A good and natural link profile contains links from high-quality and thematically suitable websites as well as links from blog articles/comments, forums, social media, wikis, or press portals. Links from inferior websites or dubious sources should be avoided or removed to minimize the risk of punishment. Besides the link sources, the number of backlinks on a page and where they are placed (header, footer, content area, etc.) is also decisive.
Link Building in Practice
Link building is an offpage optimization method that takes a lot of time and should be carried out continuously. The successful work is still rewarded with a better search engine ranking, even though search engines try to weaken the method bit by bit.
Instead of buying links, one should rather rely on “real” recommendations and invest the money in useful, high-quality content and the promotion of this content. Additionally, backlinks can be placed by the user and non-reciprocal link exchange can be used.