Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is often called one of the dark arts of digital – it can be perceived as a shadowy game of cat and mouse between Google and people in dark rooms with screens full of code. However, the principles of SEO are fairly easy to grasp, so I have outlined them here.
Why use links? Search engines have a tough job – they need to create a system where they can rank all of the world’s (visible!) websites according to a query that someone types into a search engine. Oh, and you’ve got a split second to rank them. Yikes! Early on, the search engines realised that they needed to determine website authority quickly – so links became important, with the theory being that the more links that a website receives, the more authority it has. This was abused by link farms, so the search engines became smarter at identifying the relevancy of links, and realising that some links are more valuable than others (i.e. one from amazon.com is more valuable than one from a small local business). So, where are links found?
Directories – Directories are a basic place to place a link to your site, and some are free (e.g. Dmoz) and others are paid directories (e.g. Yellow Pages) – but they do tend to have good link authority, and there are often trade specific directories which could be useful
Suppliers and Customers – It might be that there are link-building opportunities right on your doorstep with the people who you work closest with. Suppliers and customers are a great source of links, so ask the question!
Blogging – This has three SEO benefits – firstly, your website will be updated on a regular basis which search engines like (it means the site has not been abandoned). Secondly, your blog can be shared on social media, which will generate SEO value. The final benefit is that your blog may be syndicated – if your content is interesting enough, another site may run your blog on their site, for example, I am very proud to say that my blog is syndicated by business2community.com
Bloggers – This is different from the above – this is about asking (or rather sending samples of your product to…) a blogger to write about your product and providing a link. But Google are onto this – indeed, Matt Cutts, who you really should follow, has warned that this tactic ‘is dead’.
Social Media – Social is huge, we all know that. But it is also a great way of generating links and SEO value for your site. Remember, search engines are looking to refer their users to the best quality content – and what could be a better endorsement than lots of social media shares? Social will become more and more significant in SEO in the future.
Find out what the competition are doing – You can see where your competitors are sourcing their links from by checking out Open Site Explorer.
The best advice for SEO is to focus on the user. After all, it is the user who will provide the lead / buy your product, the search engine is just there to provide the user. And possibly the most important role of a link is not SEO, but for the user to click on to take them to some great content.Image via senramedia.com