Australian business owners and marketing managers who want to ensure that their companies experience continual growth and expansion should note that the effective use of links can help them accomplish this objective. By learning more about how links affect your website's Google ranking as well as how to engage in effective link building, your business can gain the type of substantive online presence that boosts your conversion rates while also increasing your loyal customer base. If you want to improve your search rankings, speak to one of our Sydney SEO specialists here at Quantum.

How Google Interprets Links

The reason that links are important in the world of internet marketing is because major search engines such as Google use them to place your website in the search engine results pages. (Other major engines like Yahoo and Bing do so as well.) Here are several factors that a search engine considers during its link analysis:

Site Popularity

Site popularity is one of the primary factors that Google considers when determining how valuable the links from a site will be. In short, the more popular the site, the more valuable any links that exist on that site will be. Moreover, attaining links from a plethora of authoritative, diverse sites can increase a site's popularity. For example, Wikipedia has thousands of links from other sites, which functions as a strong indication that it is important. However, it is also important to note that Google does not always use the fact that a website has a lot of traffic as a factor that earns the site a greater Google ranking. Thus, site popularity-when viewed in terms of a site getting a high number of visits does not guarantee that a website will earn a more competitive ranking in the search engine results pages.

Topic-Specific Links

In addition to considering site popularity when determining a website's value, Google evaluates the presence of topic-specific links in order to decide where a site will rank in the search engine results pages. Specifically, attaining links from other sites whose primary topic parallels one's own subject matter is more important than getting links from off-topic site owners. For example, if your website offers advice regarding cosmetics and sells make-up products, gaining a link from a world-renown cosmetics brand such as Revlon or Cover Girl would be more important than one from a local health clinic.

Link Neighborhoods

Oftentimes, website authority is relational, being defined by the other websites that it is connected to. For example, websites that link to spammy websites are often spamming themselves, and they will typically have other spammy websites linking back to them. In recognising this principle, Google examines a website's "link neighbourhood" in order to determine its value and search engine results pages ranking. Since this is the case, business owners who want their website to gain the best possible ranking in the results pages should think critically about which sites to attain links from.

Trust Ranking

Trust ranking is another factor that Google will consider when determining a website's placement in the search engine results pages. Unfortunately, much of the data available on the internet is spam. (Some estimates state that up to 60% of the websites that currently exist are spam.) To ensure that these irrelevant, pesky websites do not gain prevalence in the search engine results pages, Google makes use of a link graph to measure a site's validity. Websites that have gained links from other domains with a high level of trust can help that website score well on the link graph metric. Some websites that have a high level of trust include government websites, non-profit organisations, and universities.

Anchor Text

Anchor text is one of the primary website elements that Google will analyse when determining how a site ranks in the search engine results pages. Specifically, if a large number of websites use anchor text such as "Best Coffee Shop" to redirect readers to a great coffee store website, that website has a substantive chance of becoming the primary website that individuals are led to upon typing the keyword "Best Coffee Shop" into the search field. Although anchor text is a factor that Google considers when ranking sites, it is important to note that matching the anchor text to the exact keyword has become less significant in recent years. What has become more important, however, is having a diverse range of different anchor texts. Anchor text keyword diversity is important because too many of the same anchor texts with exact matches is a warning sign to Google. Additionally, the prevalence of semantic keywords (which can be vague and preclude rather than engender clear meaning) has made keyword variation even more important. Finally, the use of anchor text with words like "click here" and 'branded keywords' can make the link profile appear more natural and thus gain more favourable ranking from Google.

Social Sharing Links

Blog-twitterAs many internet marketing experts know, social media channels such as Twitter and Facebook have become incredibly effective mediums through which businesses can advertise their goods and services. For example, business owners can tweet links to their product pages via Twitter and have people within their social networks retweet the link to a potentially unlimited number of individuals. In analysing websites, Google will consider this type of activity. Since socially shared, links have become one of the factors that Google examines when determining the popularity of a website, business owners who want to engage in effective link building should make use of channels like Twitter and Facebook to accomplish this objective.

Contemporary Relevance and/or "Freshness"

Business owners who want to ensure that the search engines view their websites favourably should know that freshness is a factor that Google will take into consideration. Specifically, Google will analyse how popular or relevant your website is by evaluating whether or not it is currently earning links. If your site goes "stale" and stops earning new links, this can adversely affect the evaluation. Since this is the case, it is important for website owners to continually update their pages with fresh content while engaging in various effective internet marketing strategies which ensure that the site is continually seen by other web owners or prospective customers who will be interested in linking to it.

Different Link-Building Strategies

There are a variety of link-building strategies that business owners can use to increase the popularity of their websites in the eyes of Google. Some of them include:

"Natural" Editorial Links

Natural link-building transpires when a website gains links from other sites. These types of links are generally earned because the website owner has created interesting, informative content and subsequently generated awareness regarding its existence.

Manual Link Building

Manual link building transpires when the website owner engages in activity such as e-mailing bloggers to request links, paying for listings, or submitting the website to reputable directories. To increase the likelihood that the manual link-building process will be effective, the website owner will generally spend time building the website's value. This can be accomplished in several ways, including by submitting the site to a website award program.

Self-Created

There are many websites that offer visitors the opportunity to create links via forum signatures, user profiles, blog comments, or guest book signings. Although these types of links provide the lowest value of the three mentioned here, they can still have a profound impact on Google's analysis if enough of them exist. However, these types of links are generally devalued by search engines, and sites that have pursued them aggressively can be penalised. Because self-created links are oftentimes viewed as spam, website owners should be cautious about pursuing them.

Implementing Your Link-Building Optimisation Plan

Business owners have the ability to implement any of the aforementioned link-building strategies in an attempt to help their websites gain links and subsequently attain a competitive ranking in the search engine results pages. Generally, it is advantageous for business owners to use several strategies synergistically for the purpose of yielding the greatest search engine results. If a business owner makes use of a link-building strategy that appears unnatural, it will likely be discredited when Google performs its analysis. This is why the attainment of links through natural methods is important and perhaps the ideal method to incorporate during the link-building process. There are several strategies business owners can employ to boost the likelihood that they will attain links naturally, and some of them include:

Content Optimisation

content-marketing-bannerWebsite owners will be much more interested in taking it upon themselves to link to your site if it is excellent, and one of the primary factors that contributes to making your site as amazing as possible is the continual production of excellent content. There are a variety of ways that you can make your content great, and one of them is by hiring professional content writers to produce text for you. Content writers generally have an amalgam of experience and education that enables them to cultivate the type of unique, clear content that will catch and keep the attention of your audience. Some of the strategies that content writers typically employ to make content great include:

1. Making The Text Scannable.

As many internet marketing experts know, most people who go online to read are not reading blog posts and web articles in entirety. Instead, they scan through the text to find the information they want. With this idea in mind, professional content writers will generally seek to make text scannable through the inclusion of things such as bullets, headers, and numbered lists.

2. Elimination of "Fluff."

Although broadly defined, the term "fluff" generally refers to words and ideas that detract from the quality of web content because they do not pertain to the central idea being expressed. Professional content writers work to ensure that they use words sparingly and stick to their primary theme to prevent their readers from becoming annoyed.

Becoming A Thought Leader

Becoming a thought leader is a great way to attract attention to a business website and increase the likelihood that other website owners will link you. This is the case for several reasons, including the fact that becoming a thought leader in your field functions as an indication that you possess authority within your sector. Once you establish this type of reputation, more and more website owners will want to be affiliated with you. There are a plethora of ways that you can become a thought leader within your chosen field, and one of them includes publishing a book. Additionally, you should establish a reputation for conducting and subsequently publishing meaningful research within your field of business.

A Quick Note On Google's Algorithm

As 2014 rages on, internet marketing experts are attempting to determine if there have been or will be any significant shifts in Google's algorithms. At this point, it seems clear that links are decreasing in value with respect to how important Google takes them when determining a website's ranking. However, marketing experts are still advising clients to pay close attention to the number and quality of links they attain. Focus should be placed upon attaining as many high quality, reputable links as possible.

Summing It All Up

Business owners who are serious about ensuring that their websites attain a good ranking in the search engine results pages of major engines such as Google should know that the implementation of effective link building strategies can help them accomplish their goal. By reviewing the information listed above, you can make an informed decision regarding which techniques to implement such that your business develops and continually expands its online presence. Once this happens, your business will likely increase its conversion rates while continually building your loyal customer base.