Recently we have putting a lot of energy into our “Link-Building” program. While working on this program, several questions have come up. Below is my attempt to answer them as thoroughly as possible. I invite everyone to add more questions or comments where you can.
1. What is linking and why it is so important to my search engine rankings?
When someone links to your site, they are essentially telling people “Hey, I like this site, it’s related to what we talk about on our site and you should check it out”. In other words when someone links to your site they are voting for it. Some votes are counted more than others (hey no one said this was a democracy).
2. Why would one link to your site count more than another?
When it comes to SEO ranking, it’s all about relevancy. In other words, is the site that is linking to you a trusted source for information in your particular field? For example, if you have a site about financial investment, a link to your site from http://money.cnn.com/ is going to be given more weight than say, stevesstocks.com, because it is a trusted source for financial information.
3. Are there any links that could count against me?
If you have links to your site from industries that are not related to your site, the search engines will probably ignore them or not give them any weight. The only time the search engines will count links against you, is if they think you are aggressively trying to build links by using unaccepted methods (see #5 below). The search engines know that you cannot control every aspect of your linking (i.e. what your competitors might do), so they will look at your intent before initiating any action.
4. How many links does it take to get to the top of the Google results page?
I’ve said it once and I’ll keep saying it, from an SEO perspective it’s all about relevancy. It is more likely that a site with 10 high quality (trusted) links that are relevant to the topic on the page will rank higher than a site that has 1000 links that are from pages that are unrelated or not ranked well for their topic.
Let me make this absolutely clear, it is not the number of links that counts… it is the number of quality links from sites that are related to the topic of your page that matters.
5. What is a “Link Farm”? And why is it bad?
According to Wikipedia, a link farm is defined as follows. “On the World Wide Web, a link farm is any group of web pages that all hyperlink to every other page in the group. Although some link farms can be created by hand, most are created through automated programs and services. A link farm is a form of spamming the index of a search engine (sometimes called spamexing or spamdexing).”
6. What is the difference between a “Link Farm” and an “Exchange” or “Directory”?
Link exchange systems (for example, directories) are designed to allow individual websites to selectively exchange links with other relevant websites and are not considered a form of spamdexing. It can sometimes be difficult to tell the difference between the two. It is very important to research any links or link exchanges carefully before submitting your site. An example of a link farm, for instance, would be a page with strictly links and no descriptions. Another would be a page where the descriptions are all very similar. More information on link farms and spamming can be found at the Google Webmaster Help Center.