Google started to dominate the search scene in 2000 with it’s PageRank algorithm (PR). This algorithm (according to wikipedia) “is a link analysis algorithm, named after Larry Page and used by the Google web search engine, that assigns a numerical weighting to each element of a hyperlinked set of documents, such as the World Wide Web, with the purpose of “measuring” its relative importance within the set.”
Since then links have carried a lot of weight in search results and are often sought after for improving rankings. There have been countless updates to PageRank and the Google algorithm in general over the years, but links are still important, despite what some might tell you. In fact back links are still the deciding factor as to whether most sites will rank well or not.
Here’s how we like to look at it. On-site SEO, such as tweaking meta titles and descriptions and the content itself, will definitely give you great ranking gains if done correctly. However if you’re in a competitive industry, you will find your website hit a ranking ceiling that your site will simply never exceed without link building.
So what is link building as a service and why is it an important piece of the puzzle?
What is SEO link building?
Link building is the process of building links to your website from any number of other sites on the Internet.
There are a variety of different places and methods to build links. It’s important to take notice of two elements of link building.
- Where your links are coming from, and
- The text that is used to link to your website, called anchor text
For the biggest rankings boosts, the websites that the links come from need to be of relevance to your website, such as the same industry, and should have a decent PR (higher than zero would be nice).
The anchor text should be varied across all websites on which you have links. If you’ve already got a number of back links that link to your site using the site’s name, such as “Websavers” in our case, then you can build a few links using your services as anchor text, like “Web Hosting”. Just be sure not to overdo it; too many links too fast with the same anchor text and Google’s algorithms are going to take notice, potentially getting your links devalued.
Why is link building important for SEO?
Because Google is essentially a popularity contest. The more links, particularly coming from high value websites, the higher your website is valued on Google. The higher the value, the better the rank.
But, of course, we can dive deeper… there are two different types of value (or “authority”): domain authority and page authority. Your domain, like websavers.ca, holds a certain authority that, at least in part, is made up of the authority of all the pages on your site. It also has some authority assigned based on how long it has existed and a few other factors. Generally speaking there’s not much you can do to directly influence domain authority.
But page authority can be influenced. Each page on your website has authority. You’ll probably find your homepage has the highest authority with some of your ‘product/service’ pages holding a lesser amount of authority, and most blog posts will have pretty low authority. This is this most common distribution of authority, though it doesn’t always work out that way.
How do I use this to rank my site higher?
The most important thing to remember when it comes to page authority is that you should try to spread it out ‘naturally’. In other words, your home page doesn’t need to rank well for your products unless the product content is only found on your homepage. If the products have a page or multiple pages of their own, you should instead work on improving those pages’ rankings for product-related search phrases. Then work on having your homepage rank well for your company name and your general tagline / offerings.
For example on websavers.ca we have optimized the homepage for “web services”, the /shared-web-hosting/ page for “shared web hosting” and the VPS page for Virtual Private Servers.
The best ranked web pages are ranked highly because of their link profiles, and in smaller part due to their on-site optimizations.
If you’re in a competitive industry, don’t make the mistake of thinking that your on-site SEO tweaks will be enough. Make sure you’re engaging in link building techniques as well.