What is Link Building?
Link building, or building a site's link profile, is the process of getting hyperlinks to your site from other websites. The primary and most important function of a link is navigation. The links are used by people to navigate between the pages and external sites, and by web search robots to crawl the Internet. When you think about it, the Internet is a document linked by links. There are two kinds of link building, internal and external. Today we are going to talk about the latter one.
A separate page or a whole site is completely useless if there is no access to them. At the very beginning, there was a need to manually create and update the directories with those sites so you could find and access them. However, the rapid growth in the number of sites made those directories irrelevant, and they were completely replaced by search engines like Google. And if the search algorithms could assess the correspondence of the page to the request, then the problem of trust in the source and its authority still remained. Host (website) factors, i.e. the credibility of the host that published the content, became one of the ways to assess the credibility of that content.
Host factors determine the overall quality of the entire site and all documents included in it. These include:
domain zone and geography;
host’s age and history;
availability of a security certificate (SSL);
and much more.
Authority is The Key
How did it happen that the links became important in evaluating host quality? The answer lies in the very nature of the web: it is chaotic and evolves without any control. Anyone can post anything and how they want it. How can a search engine figure out who to trust and who not?
From the start, the web was used for advertising. And back then, it quickly became clear that search engines were bad at understanding the text spam. It was quite easy to come up with various tricks to rank higher. Then, to assess the quality of the site and counter text spam, search engines began to use the link structure of the Internet.
The logic is simple. If someone links to your site, it means that the site is authoritative and should be trusted. And of course, SEO specialists immediately took advantage of this opportunity, starting to sell and buy links. It looked like a miracle. Having bought a hundred links, you could get to the top and stay there until some of the competitors bought more links.
The first search engine to use link weight as a site ranking factor was Google. Assessing the credibility of an article by analyzing its citation has long been used in science. Unsurprisingly, citation has become a useful signal for search engines as well. So, how does it work?
Why Do Search Engines Need Links?
Link text (link anchor) describes the content of the page being linked to. Therefore, the search engine may think that the page matches the meaning of the anchor text. This is useful when the promoted page has difficulty allocating keywords.
If one page links to another, it recognizes its authority, if the pages are linked in meaning, semantically. If we are talking about a navigation link (for example, to a service page), then it is clear that there is no semantic link here, and such a link is taken into account with less weight.
If a link has traffic with good behavioral characteristics, then the link is important and useful to users. Such a link is rated higher by search engines. You can put in hundreds of links from unvisited sites, or links that no one sees, or links that don't interest users, but then they wouldn’t do anything for your site. Now, from the other side, you can provide just one link from a high-quality thematic resource, which regularly brings interested visitors to your site, and this will provide you with a sharp jump in search results.
One of the algorithms for evaluating a link is the evaluation of its "weight". Up to a certain weight threshold, a link is considered a “bad” link. Therefore, there are a few things to consider in the link building process:
what constitutes the link weight;
how to choose donors for your site;
what links are needed for ranking higher in a given search engine.
The important thing to remember here is that it is better to have a small number of working and useful links coming from highly credible websites than to dump budgets into link junk.
Now you know the definition of link building and a bit of its history. We bet you’re wondering where to get those links, and how to make them work for your business. In this case, stay tuned for more. We will provide you with additional information in our second part dedicated to different types of external link building, its use, and effects.