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Blog Post

What is Link Building?

March 22, 2018
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The digital landscape of SEO and link building is constantly changing and the importance of building high-quality links is more powerful than ever. While Google’s algorithm is frequently updated, links form the foundation of a website’s performance and high-quality links are a crucial part of building an authoritative website.

But what is link building exactly? In short, link building is a tactic used to gain credible backlinks to increase the authority of your overall domain and specific pages within your domain. Once there are several high-quality backlinks pointing to your website, Google crawls your website’s backlink profile to rate the relevancy and authority of the other domains linking to your website. In other words, search engines view links as a vote of trust from one website to another, so if an already-established and authoritative domain is linking to your website it helps build the authority of your website in the “eyes” of the search engine.

So, what’s the catch? Since Google is constantly refining its algorithm and updating the way search engines rate the performance of backlinks, it’s crucial that you are only obtaining links on the most qualified, credible outlets. Spammy outlets that use “black hat” linking tactics will get flagged by Google and the sites that they link out to will get penalized as well. SEO outreach and link building strategies need to carefully follow Google’s guidelines or else link building could be detrimental to the authority of your website.

How Do Search Engines Use Links?

Search engines use links for two fundamental reasons: to discover new websites and to determine how well that website should rank within a given search result. By crawling new websites and existing websites within its index, the search engine is constantly evaluating each website to identify which websites are the most relevant and authoritative within each search. In addition, the search engine is also measuring the authenticity of each website and how well it practices “white hat” linking strategies.

Related: Black Hat Tactics That Lead to a Manual Action

For Google, link metrics are the foundation of its ranking algorithm. The authority of a website is largely dependent on the quality and quantity of links within its backlink profile. So, what is a backlink profile and how does each website establish quality backlinks? A backlink profile is a term used to describe the list of other websites currently linking to one site and backlinks are external links living on other websites.

Understanding Good Links Vs. Bad Links

A quality link in the eyes of Google is a link living on an already established and authoritative domain or website. For example, if Forbes published an article that linked to a relatively new, unestablished website, Google would view that link as a vote of trust from Forbes and pass link equity to that website. Since Forbes is a well-established, reliable source that is highly ranked on Google’s search engine and has a high domain authority from MOZ, it is a very strong backlink to have within a site’s backlink profile. Essentially, the more authoritative the domains within a site’s backlink profile are, the higher the authority the site will be.

On the contrary, if a spammy website filled with inappropriate content links to a company’s website, Google will create a correlation between both sites and that link could potentially harm the credibility and ranking of that company’s website. If a website’s backlink profile is filled with spammy, unauthoritative links, or if Google suspects that a website is participating in “black hat” SEO linking tactics, like securing links on directory websites, that website will be flagged and it won’t rank well within the search engine results page (SERP).

Related: What are Link Penalties and How to Avoid Them

To detect the websites that use unethical link building strategies and manipulate rankings, Google releases frequent algorithm updates, which sets certain SEO guidelines in which websites must follow in order to rank well. During these algorithm updates, websites will experience a fluctuation in rankings and this is how Google can discover which websites have been built a strong backlink profile filled with several quality, unique outlets versus the websites that have weak backlink profiles filled with spammy, unauthoritative sites.

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Benefits Of Link Building

When link building tactics are done properly and follow Google’s guidelines, it has the ability to positively impact a website in more ways than one. Building quality links will not only increase the number of backlinks a website has within its backlink profile, but it will also improve the overall authority of that website in the eyes of the search engine and improve the rankings for both branded and non-branded keywords within a search.

By improving a website’s ranking, it increases the likelihood that a larger amount of traffic will be driven to that website and it also increases the likelihood that a visitor will convert after multiple touches. Link building is a long-term investment that significantly impacts each website, however, it also requires continual movement in order to maintain a website’s authority and rankings on a search engine.

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