SEO and Link Building for Your SEO Campaign

by | Dec 12, 2019 | Uncategorized

Though most businesses understand the basics of search engine optimization (SEO) and how to use keywords, link building often gets ignored. Link building is a crucial tool to increase your business’s place in search engine results pages, or SERPs. Don’t let this tactic go under your radar. 

When you have content on the web, you give Google’s crawlers something to find, which is why keywords matter. Ensuring you have blogs with optimized content is a great first step in increasing your digital presence, link building may be just as crucial. 

Why Links Matter for SEO 

Think of links to other websites as digital votes for search engines. These votes count toward ranking web pages. The more votes a page gets, the better its chances of showing up in SERPs. Of course, voting is always a bit complicated. Just ask Florida. 

While you are working on building your SEO campaign, know that what you are voting on – the links you use can affect optimization and how Google finds you. You can also work toward other organizations using your blogs and website as a reputable source, which can help you both. 

How to Craft Anchor Texts

The words that a user would click on to go to an internal or external site is called anchor text. For instance, if you are writing content for your real estate company in Tampa, you might use an internal link back to your website and link it to language like, “the most successful real estate agent in Tampa.” 

Many content writers misuse or misunderstand anchor text and simply attach a link to any word or line and assume the job is done. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. You may be attaching a link to build SEO, but if the text you attach the link to doesn’t offer any description, then it’s a missed opportunity for Google to pay your site some attention. 

When you describe the link using the anchor text, you also have to make sure it reads naturally and is grammatically correct. Otherwise, it may look like poor content, which will get your site demoted rather than promoted. 

Why Anchor Text Matters to SEO

Using a descriptive anchor text tells Google what your topic is. When the link has a similar idea, Google’s crawlers give your content more authority – it makes sense to the algorithm. Leverage anchor text to boost SEO by using text that includes what your content is about and keeping the text concise. Google itself offers way to use anchor text to boost your presence, so keep their advice in mind. 

Here’s an example of what not to do: 

For more information, click here. The trouble is two-fold; by writing “information,” you miss out on an opportunity for Google to figure out what the topic is and attach some relevance to it. In fact, always avoid “click here,” “find here,” or “follow this link” types of anchor text.  Secondly, the “click here” should describe what’s in the link so that Google can connect your post with the text, and, hopefully, make it easier for users to find you. 

Do this instead: 

To learn more about Florida homes for sale, contact one of the most successful real estate agents in Tampa. Yes, it’s a bit wordier, but the words matter for your SEO. The content here lets Google know this is “about Florida homes for sale” and the link is to a real estate agent – one who is hoping to be successful by creating the blog beneath the text. The content, the anchor text, and the link are about the same thing – and then Google knows what to do with it. 

Use Page Authority and Hubs for Links

Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot more to link building than adding a link and using the right content to anchor it. When you build your content using authoritative links, you help yourself and the content of the original link. While no one is privy to Google’s algorithms, we do know that this way of ranking a page was part of the Hilltop Algorithm, which Google acquired in 2003. 

How Hub and Page Authority Affect SEO

When you link to reputable sources with quality content, Google sees your site as a similarly reputable one. Consider that, every time you link to another site, you are building its authority with search engines. 

The Reasonable Surfer Patent

Though ranking algorithms have evolved and disrupted SEO tactic for years now (and will continue to do so), one that really changed the game was PageRank. According to this 1997 – yep, it’s that old – algorithm, the links in content are all like a vote for the target they link to. In the early stage, all these “votes” carry equal weight. As the algorithm progresses, links to important page will themselves increase in importance and, thus, carry more votes. The number and weight of votes a page casts suggests the page’s importance, divided by its number of votes. 

The idea behind this strategy is that links a “reasonable surfer” would click should carry more importance than links the same surfer probably wouldn’t click. It’s actually a patent, and it matters a lot to how your website is seen by Google’s crawlers. 

Basically, this means the kind of links you use in your content can help your SEO. First, it can boost the ranking of whoever the content links to. If Google’s crawlers deem that site “important,” it also helps the original site’s ranking as well. Of course, Google doesn’t stop with the simplicity of that kind of ranking. The algorithm became more complex, considering page authority, anchor text, hubs, and even how people respond to the links to rank the link’s importance and number of votes. 

What Reasonable Surfing Means for SEO

That may seem like a lot of information but putting it to work isn’t too challenging. It’s all about linking to credible sources. When you have data, insight, or simply want to cite a source, look for a website that already has established credibility. 

For instance, if you are writing about bicycle injuries in New York and want to site injury statistics, there is likely a NY law firm whose page will offer those stats. You can cite it from that source and give that page a little ranking boost. Or, you could cite the government page that has the original statistics. While the government page doesn’t need the “ranking boost” it will get by showing up in your content, using it can help your website rank higher because Google would it more votes than it would that New York law firm. Likewise, if you link to spam pages or unpopular content, it can hurt the page’s ranking. 

Like anything with SEO, there’s a lot more to it. Your website developer can help you with some of these, but much of the power is simply how your write and link back to other types of intel. Use links your users are more inclined to open, and you will help your own page also be more likely to get opened. 

Consider Topic Sensitivity in PageRank

Now that you know a little about PageRank, you can understand why topic sensitivity matters. Basically, when a page has a few links, it will rank higher if those links are about the same topic as the original content. If you’ve written content about the weather and link to a medical site discussing the various ways emotional health can be impacted, it will rank lower than a medical site explaining S.A.D., Seasonal Affective Disorder. Your content, the weather, and the Mayo Clinic’s article about S.A.D., are both topically the same. That combination will rank higher than your weather content with links to Johns Hopkins about mental health; if Google can’t sense the topics are the same, it won’t rank them as highly. 

A further example is in this very content. The link I just used with the anchor text “explaining Seasonal Affective Disorder” won’t help SEO for this content despite the link being from an “important site” – i.e., one that gets a lot of votes, the Mayo Clinic. Now, if I’d link to how the dangers of time spent in front of the screens, Google would likely know what’s up. Thank goodness it can’t cut me off. Yet. 

How to Leverage Topic Sensitivity for SERPs

Use links that are similar in topic to your content as much as possible. Again, using this content as an example, all the links here (we the exception of the one above) are about ways to use links to boost your SEO. The links are from pages that Google would see as authoritative, so it will get more ranking attention as a result. Also, use links that use authoritative pages themselves. 

How to Use Phrase-based Indexing 

Phrase-based indexing is an extension of topic sensitivity, but instead of just considering the topic, Google is looking at how the phrases in your content align with the phrases in the content you’ve linked to.  If you’re considering topic sensitivity when crafting content, then this piece will likely happen organically. For example, the “weather content” from the previous example will likely have phrases about weather and mental health. If you link to the Johns Hopkins content that is strictly about mental health, there will be fewer phrasing matches than if you link to Mayo’s content. The latter would have weather-vocabulary and mental health topics, which would likely have more matching phrasing to your original content.  

Phrase-based Indexing for SEO

To take advantage of phrase-based indexing and local interconnectivity, carefully read your source material, and use sources that other reputable sites would have used. Be sure to use the same types of language that the material you are citing uses. Using our weather example again, consider how Mayo’s article only uses the term Seasonal Affective Disorder once and SAD the rest of the time. If your content doesn’t take advantage of the acronym, you are wasting an opportunity to use phrase-based indexing to boost your presence. 

 

Use Local Interconnectivity for Best SEO Practices

If you take these processes to their next logical step, you’ll be leveraging local interconnectivity. That’s when you link to pages that already rank highly – and that’s why you’d want to use the Mayo Clinic’s site to link to rather than your local doctor’s blog. 

Link-Building Tips for SEO: The Basics

You don’t have to memorize these concepts to use them when crafting content or building an SEO campaign strategy. Use these tips when leveraging link building for a boost to your rankings. 

  • Use descriptive anchor text for links. Whether the link is internal, external, or an outlink to another site, treat the anchor text as a tool for helping Google find you. Avoid the oft-seen and always dreaded, “click here.”
  • Build relationships with authoritative sites that have relevance to your own. Look for sites that would rank well with your own target keywords and carry authority. Majestic offers some insight into how to find authoritative sites for SEO and link building.  
  • Find links from relevant pages. When considering whether to use a link, examine the title, body, and related phrases – would Google see this link as connected to your content? 
  • Look for clickable links. Use links that people are more apt to click to boost your own site. Be sure it’s relevant to your target topic. 

As you leverage these tips when creating content, avoid the following pitfalls of link building. 

  • Don’t “over-optimize” your links. By using repetitive exact match anchor text and keyword stuffing, you may find your site gets demoted rather than ranked higher. 
  • Don’t use “here” for clickable anchor text. You should consider all text a way for Google’s crawlers to find you, but it’s particularly true of anchor text. 
  • Avoid unnatural links. Don’t try to game the system by using unnatural links

Need Help With Your Link Building Strategy?

If this is overwhelming, you don’t have to understand it all to make it work for you. To learn more about how Content Matters can boost your SEO with proper link building, contact our team. We can craft content to boost your SEO, beyond simple keyword research. 

 

Alisa Hummell

Alisa Hummell

Alisa Hummell began her career teaching at Northern Michigan University but found she missed putting pen to paper. She began Better Content Matters with Christie Moll and Kimberlee Henry. Together, they were dedicated to covering a gap in marketing to include boutique writing services that helped clients with their SEO while crafting language that spoke to people – and not just bots. In the wake of AI, that need has grown ever more important.