Link Building for Improved Search Engine Ranking:
Most webmasters who are familiar with Search Engine Optimization and involved in promotion of websites realize the importance of link building to achieve high rankings in Search Engines such as Google. Even a preliminary reading on the Internet guides them to initiate link exchange with websites, particularly with higher PageRank link pages. The more enlightened webmasters pursue links from related industries and also focus on customizing their Anchor Text (link text) in the incoming links.
However, very often their understanding is limited to this information and lower PR links are generally considered worthless, not fit to pursue. This article attempts to simplify & demystify a lot link building issues and show you how in fact, lower PR incoming links are also important & can give you a greater mileage in your quest for high rankings of your website.
Benefits of a mixed-PR Link Building campaign:
Before we discuss the benefits of a mixed-PR link building campaign, it is important to briefly understand the key role incoming links play, in your site’s ranking process. Search engine ranking is a function and combination of primarily two aspects:
- Importance of your web page
- Relevance of a web page (related to search query string)
Higher “Importance” Improves Ranking:
Search engines rank, what they consider as “important” websites, higher in their result pages. The importance of your website is assessed using various algorithms of a search engine; prominent aspects being:
- PageRank: A measure of the PageRank (PR) of your web page on a scale of 0 to 10. Google Toolbar (toolbar.google.com) tells you the topic-independent, absolute importance of a web page, 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. Each PR value between 1 and 10 is 6-times more important than its previous number. For example, PR5 is 6-times more important that PR4.
- Links from “Authoritative” Documents: Links coming from documents considered having higher authority in a particular industry. i.e. links from reputed industry sites or pages having several incoming “related-industry” links. Links from authoritative documents add both, “importance” and “relevance” to your web pages. There are no publicly available qualitative tools to identify or qualify a document as being “authoritative”. Search Engines like to keep this information a secret.
Higher “Relevance” Improves Ranking:
Relevance is always measured in context to a search “query string” or keywords used in a query string. The higher the relevance of a query string to a website, the higher the website would rank. Relevance of your website pertaining to query string are a function of the following:
- On-site Keyword Relevance: Keywords and query string appearing on your web pages improve your site’s relevance to the same keyword phrases. This can be achieved or improved by carrying out Search Engine Optimization (SEO) on your web site using well-research, industry-relevant and important keyword phrases.
- Keywords in Anchor Text: Keywords or query string appearing in the “Anchor Text” (clickable portion) of an incoming link, irrespective of the PageRank of the linking page improve your site’s relevance to those keyword phrases. Primarily based on Hilltop algorithm of Google, the Anchor Text single-handedly outweighs most associated relevance values on a linking page (although there are several more complex parameters and nuances Google studies on the linking page).
- Topic Sensitive Page Rank (TSPR): TSPR attempts to combine the value of “relevance” and “importance” of a web page, by computing the “PageRank” of your web page using only “context-sensitive” incoming links. There are no publicly available tools to measure TSPR value.
Mixed-PR Link Building campaign:
The objective of a good Link Building campaign is to boost both Importance and Relevance of your web pages, while maximizing the mileage of your link building budget.
A mixed-PR campaign attempts to achieve both these parameters effectively as follows:
- The incoming links in a mixed-PR campaign are secured from all kinds of web pages ranging from PR0, PR1, PR2, PR3, PR4, PR5 and PR6.
- The higher PR links (PR4, PR5 & PR6), help you gain importance for your web pages. Although these links are difficult to find and are more expensive, they improve an important ranking parameter for your website.
- The lower PR links (PR0, PR1, PR2, PR3), help you gain the relevance of your website by leveraging the Anchor Text value from incoming links. Although the higher PR links also add to your website’s relevance, the lower PR links are more economical and therefore achieve the objective of improving “relevance” of your website much more cost effectively. The lower PR links are easier to find and therefore help set a good pace of your Link Building campaign.
- As far as possible, links should be secured from your industry-related web pages, so that you get the benefits of improving your site’s TSPR as well as having a better chance of getting links from “Authoritative” pages.
Catch Lower-PR links in the “Cradle”:
It is worth noting that the lower PR link pages increase in PR over time, more rapidly as compared to higher PR link pages. For example, a PR1 page is likely to jump to PR3 much faster than a PR4 page would jump to a PR6 page. In effect you get the chance to “catch them in the cradle”, which means that you can get (and pay a lower cost) for PR0 or PR1 links, which may turn into PR3 or PR4 link in just 3 – 6 months time. A study of past 20 projects has shown us that about 39% of PR0 and PR1 links jump in PR in 6-months time.
Avoid “Bad Neighborhoods”. Focus on One-Way or Non-Reciprocal Links:
Linking to “Bad Neighborhoods” should be avoided at all costs. Websites which are penalized by search engines, websites having spammy link pages, link-farm network pages or websites deploying dubious black-hat techniques are considered “Bad Neighborhoods”. Linking to such sites can earn penalties for your website too. Excessive linking to “Bad Neighborhoods” websites can trigger a penalty filter for your website and sink all your link building investments and promotional efforts.
Even an expert eye can sometimes not detect or identify a bad neighborhood. Already-penalized websites and websites deploying black-hat SEO techniques are not easy to identify. Unless each site is very carefully evaluated, linking to another website through exchanging links exposes you to the possibility of your website unknowingly linking to bad neighborhoods. Even if you link to, what you consider a “safe-looking” web page, it can later turn into a spammy page full of links or become part of a penalized website. Links to such bad neighborhoods can be disastrous.
Insist on One-way Incoming links:
One good way to avoid linking to bad neighborhood websites is to go in for a one-way non-reciprocal link building campaign, where you only get incoming links but you do not need to link back to such sites. Search Engines go by a premise that if “Bad Neighborhood” sites link to your site, it is neither your fault nor in your control unless you link back to them. Your site would not get penalized even if several bad sites link to you as long as your site does not link back to them. Non-reciprocal link building campaigns are very safe for this reason and your site does not lose reputation even if the incoming links turn “bad”.
There are several link building companies who offer one-way non-reciprocal link building services. These providers use their own online properties to offer links to potential partners and request them to give a one-way link to your site, getting your website “only-incoming” one-way links.
You can also deploy creative ways to secure one-way links to your website:
- Offer “Link to this Site” information on your website describing how other websites can link to your website.
- Have very good content on your website for your visitors. These could be in the form of informative articles, tips & tricks, how-to series, advisory information etc. Website owners are happy to link to sites having good, unique content.
- Offer rewards and goodies to sites that link to you. Rewards can be in the form of free e-Books, free software downloads, free trial offers, discounts coupons, online tools, content syndication or other items of interest.
- Offer link backs in exchange for good incoming links, from other non mission-critical online properties or personal pages you may own.
Outsourcing Link Building Quality Guidelines:
If you are planning to outsource your link building campaigns, you must insist your service provider to conform to the following quality guidelines for your Link Building Campaign.
- Securing “unidirectional” or only-Incoming (non-reciprocal) links
- Links with relevant “Keywords” in the Anchor Text
- Links from sites having a different range of PageRank
- Links from industry-relevant pages
- Link to your site should not be through a “redirect” script
- No links from “framed” pages
- No “flash” embedded links
- No robots.txt excluded link pages
- No Robots Tag excluded link pages
- No paid or time-bound links
- Links spread over different domains
- No email spam used to solicit links. Must conform to CAN-SPAM act.
- No links from Link Farms
- No links from FFA (Free-For-All) link networks
- No links from Blogs and Blogspots
- No links from pornographic and other sites containing offensive content
- Full data sheet of links created at the end of each month
- Only relevant established links are counted in the final report
- Links campaign pace as per client convenience