According to a 2011 report by SEOmoz, link metrics/link authority are the top two most important factors for search engine rankings. Why are links so important? As search engine algorithms have become increasingly sophisticated, they’ve started to place more importance on the authority of a site rather than its ability to rank with keywords.
Link building gives your site authority. A large quantity of high-quality links tells search engines that other sites trust you, and that they are sharing your information with others. Link authority improves search rank organically. It cannot be purchased; therefore, search engines give it more weight.
Link building is part of off-site optimization. There are basically two main factors that play a role in search engine optimization:
On-site optimization: Think of this as all the factors you can control, such as your content, internal links as well as links to other sites, keyword density, website design and calls to action, etc.
At one time, these factors were enough to get the search engines to pay attention. They’re still critical to your success; however, they are no longer enough.
Off-site optimization: These are factors that you can’t control, such as incoming links to your site (“back links”). The quality and quantity of back links to your site are determined almost solely upon the quality, quantity and freshness of your site’s content and how well you distribute it.
What is a Quality Link?
Good question! And, important to ask, as the quality of your links is a determining factor for how search engines rank your site. Simply put, a quality link is one that comes from a site that is already highly regarded by search engines. Getting links from these “authority sites” is an excellent way to piggyback on their success.
Link building with authority sites is not a quick and easy task, which is why search engines value the process so highly. One of the best ways to get them is to network with these sites, build relationships with them and get them to notice you. Ask if you can contribute guest blog posts, comment on their blogs and join social networking circles that they are a part of.
Eventually, your site will be part of their networks, and the links will start coming in.
How Do I Attract Quality Links?
Search engines can’t evaluate you based on how attractive your graphics are, or how good your customer service is. What they are able to rate is how well you attract other sites, and this is something that can only be done through quality content.
Ultimately, content is what people are reading, and people are the ones linking to you. Creating fresh, original, authoritative content on a regular basis builds your reputation with visitors. It answers their questions, engages them, and keeps them coming back for more. It attracts quality links because the people reading it will share it with others via social bookmarking sites, social media and word-of-mouth.
Link building is an essential part of SEO, and one that cannot be ignored. Be patient, build link authority and watch your clout with the search engines increase with each quality link!