by Geoffrey Hoesch — May 9, 2007
Link building is one of the most important factors of Search Engine Optimization (SEO), as Search Engine algorithms take into account when determining the relevancy and, indirectly, page rank of a site on Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).
How it Works:
Because there are too many websites for critics to visit and individually rank, Google has developed an algorithm that ranks sites based on a number of factors deemed representative of a ‘consumer friendly’ site. One such factor is the number of backlinks (links from other sites) that a site has received. It is Google’s belief that user-beneficial sites will be linked to more often than sites that are not beneficial and do not add value to the ‘web’. Initially, the algorithms only took into account the number of backlinks; however, due to abuse of this system, Google and other Search Engines were forced to develop more effective algorithms that now determine not only the number of backlinks, but the number of quality, relevant backlinks.
What is a Relevant Backlink?
A relevant backlink is a link that connects to your site from a credible and relevant source. The most credible sources are those with .edu and .gov domain names, next is .org, and finally are .com and .net. Therefore, a link from a .edu rank of 3 may well be more valuable than a link from a .com of 4.
You may be thinking of writing a mass email and sending it to every webmaster on the internet and requesting a back link to your site. This would be a wonderfully useless addition to already abundant email spam, as you would receive few links and even fewer links that would actually help the rank of your page. Relevant links come from sites with relevant material. If you sell cars and get 100 links from boat dealerships, you’ve wasted 100 links. However, if you sell cars and receive 10 links from 10 different car brands, you’ve received 10 credible links. In order to build relevant links, you’ll need to develop a linking campaign.
Your Linking Campaign
Step 1) Create an email template
You’ll be sending out plenty of emails to webmasters who run relevant websites, so it’s good to have a template from which to customize each individual email. A template should look something like this:
Hello (name if available), I was browsing the web and came upon your website, http://www.website.com. My website, http://www.yourwebsite.com, provides services (or product) that your customers may be interested in purchasing.
(a sentence about yourself and what you do) I was wondering if you would be interested in posting a link to my website.
Please feel free to copy and paste the following information to your website. This link would be an excellent addition to the links section of your website:
Remember, each email must be custom tailored for each website…webmasters are much more responsive to emails from individuals who have clearly spent the time to learn about their site.
Step 2) Finding Sites
There are numerous ways to find sites: Run a Search Engine Search for relevant sites. If you run a car dealership, try typing ‘car dealerships’ in Google. However, I recommend first typing ‘car dealerships site:.edu’ into Google, as the results will list only .edu pages. Contact any relevant webmasters (perhaps those who list student friendly car dealerships) then repeat the search for other keyword phrases, with the site:.edu at the end of the phrase. Repeat this process for .gov and .org sites.
Check out who is linking to your top competitors. Determine who your top competitors are and type in their URL here: http://www.webmaster-toolkit.com/link-popularity-checker.shtml Click on the resulting numbers for a list of sites that link to your competitors. Send emails to relevant webmasters. Go to http://www.DMOZ.org and click on reference, then click on directories. You will be provided with a list of directories. Find relevant directories and submit your site.
Remember, you are mostly interested in quality sites with Page ranks of 3+. Only link to lower ranking sites if you think they’ll increase in page rank.
Step 3) Follow Up
Keep track of the webmasters you contact and occasionally type your site into the link popularity checker (link above). After 2-3 months, contact webmasters that have not yet listed your site.