Out of all the SEO terms you’re likely to encounter, one of the most important is “link building.” This is because it still matters for SEO success, whether you operate a website for a small local storefront or a large enterprise corporation.
In this blog post, we will explain link building, why it’s important, and how search engines view links as a ranking signal.
What is Link Building?
Link building is how we create connections between website pages. When you create links from one page to another, you help search engines understand how the pages are related and in what ways.
There are two types of links – internal and external – that can help your pages rank better in search engine results pages (SERPs):
- Internal links connect one page on your website to another page on your website; they exist internally.
- External links connect a page from a third-party website to a page on your website; they exist externally.
External links are given more weight than internal links, as long as they come from trustworthy sites. However, internal link building still matters for SEO, so it is important to integrate it with your linking strategy.
Why is Link Building Important?
First, and foremost, link building is critical to SEO success because Google says so – links are the number one search ranking factor alongside content.
Without links, search engines can’t analyze the importance of your pages. There are no signals from external pages nor from internal ones. They simply have little data to go on, and that gives your pages less information on which to determine rankings.
How Do Search Engines View Links?
As mentioned earlier, we know search engines view link building as really, really important for SEO. Of course, we don’t know exactly how much weight is given by individual algorithms, as it’s a heavily guarded secret.
What we do know is that each link is seen as a vote for your page. The more votes you have, the more authority your page will receive (as long as links are from high-quality sites), and the higher your page ranks in search engines.
Fortunately, there is plenty of other data we can leverage for insight.
For example, a study by Backlinko found that the number of sites linking to a page correlated with rankings more than anything else.
This means not only is the trusthworthiness of a referring site (one sending a link to your site) a factor, but also the amount of trustworthy sites sending links. The more, the better.
We also know that your well-ranking pages can help out your not-so-well-ranking pages by internally linking to them, per Rand Fishkin of MOZ. The weight of the successful page gets passed on to the less successful page via the link.
What about the number of links on each page? It turns out less is more. Pages with fewer links will send more value per link than pages with a higher amount of links. The first link on the page gets the highest value, so that’s something to consider as well.
Your Link Building Strategy
By now, you probably recognize that external and internal link building still matters for SEO, but you may not be sure how to build a link strategy that works. I personally love this guide on growing links from MOZ, because it shows you more about how search engines look at links and how to build your own link campaign. There is a lot to learn about link building, but it is an investment of time you’ll never regret.