Although links form a part of the entire gamut of SEO related activity, experts attribute links as an important determinant of search engine’s algorithm to relate to links. Links provide a foundation for search engines to evaluate the popularity of pages. Links provide the benchmarks for assessment of websites based on trustworthiness, spammy nature and ranking (depending on authority). As provided by Hiltop Algorithm, links act on an authority model to refer the most expert pages related to a given subject. (1)
Link building should follow the best practices as per Google guidelines and needs to be done the correct way to harness maximum benefit for SEO. Creative strategies need to be developed in a manner that the target audience is compelled to get engaged with the website link. The process should be systematic, scientific and creative.
Link building strategy involves understanding the client website thoroughly. It involves understanding specific elements; its unique selling point, industry vertical, market presence, inherent value, area of operation, nature of target audience and various products/service segments. All of these can be treated as linkable assets.
By comparing and contrasting various elements a strategy can be devised which relates the target audience to these elements through links as a medium, assessed the effectiveness of the strategy and make modifications depending on results.(2)
Link building – Marketer’s View
Link building is getting the grasp of the website and target audience from a marketing perspective. It involves understanding why the website should be valued by the target audience, why any user would want to visit it, and why it is worth linking to. An applicable marketing strategy here is compelling in nature and has a credible and influential outreach. The exercise aims to obtain the contact between the client’s website and the target audience by specifying the importance and value of the client’s website for them and what unique benefit might the users obtain by visiting the particular website. If implemented correctly link building can act as immensely helpful marketing strategy for creating brand awareness, brand promotion, lead generation and lead conversion.(3)
Links serve as a marketer’s tool to indicate the relevancy and authority to Google and to the website’s unique audience group. It aims to foster trust between linked websites and enable Google to detect tactics which provide manipulative search results and extremely poor user experience. (4)
Link Building Strategies for 2015
With increased usage of internet as a medium to look out for information, products and services, link building would continue to remain popular with marketers aiming who use it as an opportunity to create brand awareness.
Search: Online presence for business is needed to command authority, visibility and reach. Websites are the digital information brochure of the company that advertises what the business stands for. Websites can be more valuable than a brick and mortar store. Search acts as the most principal channel online for various marketing initiatives such as lead generation and conversion, image management, revenues, search visibility needs to be part of the strategy. This is validated from the fact that search accounts for major traffic source for a website. The focus in 2015 should be to enhance the search presence, improve authority and visibility of websites. This happens by acknowledging and defining link opportunity for conducting link building exercise.(5)
Relationship building with authors: Effectiveness of link building strategy depends on defining the quality criteria of websites which link back to the company’s site. It is all the more important to develop relationship with websites which link back to the company site. Google not only cares about the content, but also the websites and authors which are providing the links.
The concept of ‘authorship tag’ aims to reflect the authority of authors and sites which are related to the content providing the links. An author rank – which marks the reputation of authors to determine content quality – is an important element of search results. Thus, 2015 will involve developing strong ties with opinion influencers and developing long term relationship with authors.(6)
Rich Content: Marketers should focus on developing high quality content having links to their website as poor content is rejected by Google. Quality is generally be defined by the unique proposition of the business and target audience. The content should have demonstrated good linkage in the area in which the website wants to rank well as it points to what has worked well. With the introduction of content based algorithm Humminbird of Google, the content should possess narrow and focused keywords related to the company’s niche area.(7)
The established importance of link building for gaining visibility, authority, promotion and lead conversion calls for embracing best practices for link building strategy. This involves understanding the importance of search, developing relationship with influencers, developing good quality and acceptable content in a targeted niche segment for effective search marketing strategies. Creating fantastic content is of no use unless the links lead to the first page of Google in ranking.