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Link Building Basics At SMX East

Greetings from the Big Apple! I’m here this week attending SMX East, soaking up lots of SEO/SEM news, meeting new people and catching up with some of this industry’s best and brightest. There are two link building sessions being offered, Link Building Basics and Show Me the Links. The material in the second session will be more advanced but the basics session is a must attend for anyone who wants to do well building links. Why?

Well, not only because of the speakers (cough) but because understanding (or being reminded of ) the foundation and core components behind link building is key to your long term linking success.

I know that sounds a little dramatic but it’s true. The Link Building Basics session explains why some techniques are more effective than others by explaining the core concept (as we know it) of link popularity. If you understand what “link popularity” is and how it influences the ranking algorithm, you’ll understand why some linking tactics work over others. Link building has a reputation of being hard and to a point, that’s true but overall, if you understand link popularity it becomes less difficult because you focus efforts on tactics that work.

Let’s take a look at the portion of the Link Building Basics session covering link popularity.

What Is Link Popularity?

Link popularity measures the quality and quantity of links pointing to a web page. All the major engines use it, it’s considered an off-page factor and is also called “link juice” (most popular), “link pop”, “link reputation” or “link love”.
Link Popularity Components

There are four main components:

Link quantity:  The number of links pointing to a web page.

Link quality:  Quality is determined by the authority of the host sites and the sites linking to them. Quality flows from one site to the next through links. The most well known quality factor is PageRank. Page Rank is a link analysis algorithm used by Google to determine the quality factor of a page based on its inbound links.

Anchor Text: Query ranking indicator, it’s an endorsement of what’s to come.  Anchor text is the clickable part of the link you see; hyperlinked keyword phrases provide additional “weight” and carry semantic value.

In a rare moment of algorithm clarity, Google states:  anchor text influences the queries your site ranks for in the search results. And from Bing, an equally clear comment about anchor text:  …”anchor text helps define the theme of a linked page…”. Anchor text continues to be one of, if not the strongest component of link popularity.

And last but not least is…

Relevance: This establishes your topical/geographic neighborhood within the link graph. It is commonly accepted that links to and from topically related sites convey more authority.

For maximum algorithm influence, your linking goals should be to secure large numbers of links (quantity) from quality (PageRank) pages using  keyword rich anchors (anchor text) on thematically related (relevance) authority sites/pages. I know, easier said than done right?

Yes, but definitely not impossible  if you focus on using tactics that hit on each component. Right now, the best linking strategy to implement revolves around the use and promotion of content because the content influences each component of link popularity.

To illustrate this point, take a look at this chart:
link popularity content strategy

To rank well, build brand and drive targeted traffic, it all starts with understanding how link popularity works.

Alright back to the show! If you’re attending SMX East be sure to look for Eric, Julie and myself, all three of your Link Week columnists are here whooping it up learning and sharing everything link!

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

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