Posted to Volacci's blog on July 18th, 2011 for President: What Search Engines Look for in a Link


A link back to your website from another website is seen as a vote by the search engines. Sites with a considerable number of votes are more likely to appear higher in the search rankings for a query than sites with equal relevance. Link building, whether you want to believe it or not, is changing -- slightly in the present, but probably drastically in the future. Google has expended so much effort cleaning up what people see in the SERPs, holding SEOs accountable and cracking down on less-than-acceptable practices that old-school link building tactics, even the still-acceptable ones, are under scrutiny. While the ultimate goal is to achieve as many links back to your site as possible, it’s becoming a bit more involved than that. So here’s my take on where we are, where we’re headed and why we’re headed there from a link building standpoint. Or, you could call it, “How to validate your inbound links with Google”. 1. Socialize Your Links Social link building is where much of link building is headed. Social links are valuable and looked highly upon by the search engines because they are achieved by actual social interaction and they are almost always relevant to your website. And the great part is that you get back what you put in. Building social partnerships with other companies in your industry can be valuable for creating a web of three-way links (you link to them, they link to us, we all receive one-way links). This can be done through blogging, Tweeting, Facebook-ing, etc. At the end of the day, the search engines will see that the links you’ve received are genuine, hard-earned and valuable. “And Google saw that it was good.”

social link building

2. Develop Trust 
You’re only as trustworthy as who you affiliate with, or, at least, that’s how the search engines see it. In the past this was often measured with PageRank. The higher the PR, the higher value link from that site. As PR lessens in importance, this can be measured by ensuring that the sites and directories you accept links from have compelling content, a clear purpose and quality product or service. Additionally, you can also look at a site’s link profile to see what kinds of sites link to it. And you can still look to PR as one factor, but not as the deciding factor. A link from a trusted site is worth exponentially more than a link from an untrusted site. 3. Obtain Links from a Variety of Domains Getting dozens of links from one domain doesn’t compare in value to getting one link from dozens of domains. Think of it as applying for a job. If one person gives you five recommendations, your prospective employer is going to laugh at you. But if five people give you one recommendation each, the employer will get a more diversified perspective of you as an employee. Use this principle when seeking out links.

link building volume

4. Achieve Deep Links (Links Beyond the Home Page) Garnering inbound links to the other significant pages on a website portrays depth and diversity to the search engines. While especially important for larger sites, smaller sites can also benefit from it. Use Google Analytics to see where visitors are currently landing on your site, the bounce rates of those pages and which pages should be attracting more traffic. These combined components will reveal which pages you should target your incoming deep links. 5. Anchor Your Inbound and Outbound Links Around Keywords When you ask for a link, ask your linking partners use anchor text to link to you, and when you give a link, anchor it in a blog post or article. Keyword-rich anchor text allows search engines to see what the organic landing page is about before it even crawls the site, and it will help boost your site in the SERPs for that keyword.