The most important part of any SEO campaign is getting more links to point to your site. Links really are the measure of power on the internet, as a site with bad content but a lot of links will outrank a beautiful, relevant, site with great content but no links… every time.
Page Ranking for Relevant Search Terms
One of the best ways to determine how well a search engine values a given page is to search for some of the keywords and phrases that page targets (particularly those in the title tag and headline). Pages that rank well for relevant queries tend to be more valuable than those that don’t.
Yahoo! Site Explorer Reported Inlinks
Yahoo! Site Explorer is a valuable tool for seeing the links that point to a given site or page. Using this tool, you can make estimates about the relative link popularity and importance a page has based on who links to it. Typically those pages/sites with more powerful and important links will pass on greater value through their links.
Google Page Rank
Despite much maligning over the years for accuracy and freshness problems (Google only updates their toolbar Page Rank data every 3-5 months and sometimes manipulates the values intentionally to discourage spam and over-analysis), there is still value to looking at the number reported. This is discussed more in this blog post on Page Rank Correlation. Pages with high Page Rank do tend to pass on more link value than those with little or none. Be careful with those that have Page Rank “unranked” ( a gray bar) as these may be highly valuable pages that simply haven’t received visible Page Rank since the last update.
Number of Links on a Page
According to the original Page Rank formula, the value that a link passes is diluted by the presence of other links on a page. Thus, getting linked-to by a page with few links is better than being linked-to by the same page with many links on it (all other things being equal). The degree to which this is relevant is unknowable (and in our testing, it appears to be important, but not overwhelmingly so), but it’s certainly something to be aware of as you conduct link acquisition.
Potential Referral Traffic
Link building should never be solely about search engines. Links that send high amounts of direct click-through traffic not only tend to provide better search engine value for rankings, but also send targeted, valuable visitors to your site (the basic goal of all Internet marketing). This is something you can estimate based on the numbers of visits/page views according to site stats, but if you can’t get access to these, services like Google Trends for Websites,Compete, Quantcast, & Alexa can give you a rough idea of at least domain-wide traffic, from which you can estimate page-specific popularity.
Google blog search
Google Blog Search is the only property controlled by the search giant that offers accurate back-link information. While this only shows links from blogs and feeds, there’s still great value in seeing which sites/pages have earned authority and attention in the blogosphere, as this can be a useful predictor of the link value they’ll pass.
“Link Building Strategies”
Many sites offer directories or listings of relevant resources
- You can find hundreds of these on the search engines themselves to find lists of pages that offer outbound links in this fashion (for example, try searching for allintitle: resources directory at Google and notice the millions of results).
Get your customers to link to you
- If you have partners you work with regularly or loyal customers that love your brand, you can use this to your advantage by sending out partnership badges – graphic icons that link back to your site (like Microsoft often does with their partner certification program). Just as you’d get customers wearing your t-shirts or sporting your bumper stickers, links are the best way to accomplish the same feat on the web.
Build a company blog and make it a valuable, informative and entertaining resource
- This content and link building strategy is so popular and valuable that it’s one of the few recommended personally by the engineers at Google (source: USA Today & Stone Temple). Blogs have the unique ability to contribute fresh material on a consistent basis, participate in conversations across the web, and earn listings and links from other blogs, including blogrolls and blog directories.
Create content that inspires viral sharing and natural linking
- In the SEO world, we often call this “linkbait.” Good examples might include this Peak Season Ingredient Map from Epicurious, this Interactive Graphic Explaining Hand Signals Used on Stock Market Trading Floors from the New York Times, or this Video of an iPod in a Blenderfrom Blendtec. Each leverages aspects of usefulness, information dissemination, or humor to create a viral effect – users who see it once want to share it with friends, and bloggers/tech-savvy webmasters who see it will often do so through links. This high quality, editorially earned votes are invaluable to building trust, authority, and rankings potential.
Build content that can be shared through a citation-based licensing agreement
- If you have photos, videos, graphics, charts, raw data, or text content that can be licensed out with a system like Creative Commons’ Attribution (or Attribution-ShareAlike), you can leverage the power of the web’s penchant for information sharing while receiving links back to your originals and your site each time someone uses your material.
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