Making Websites Linkable

Linkability and the Case for Outbound Linking

Posted: June 5th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: search engine optimization | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Linkability

Linkability (link·a·bil·i·ty; adj., n.) [lingk-uh-bil-i-tee]: The state or quality of being linkable. “When a website has provided content that engenders, inspires, or encourages other sites to link to it.” (see Eric Ward’s article on Linkability) Please note that what will be presented here does not have as much to do with link popularity as it does creating a website/webpage that is linkable. Link popularity springs forth in it’s own due time, sometimes quickly and sometimes more slowly and constant. Of course, you can and should help it along by link building, but linkability has more to do with sparking an interest in your content that attracts links. Whether you attract links quickly or just a single here, a single there, a double every now and again, a triple infrequently, and a home run very rarely, your focus should be on increasing your linkability over time. If done right, popularity will come, but it comes from what you are doing in the meantime. It can be helpful to “link audit”, to find out if there are particular elements that you have inadvertently left out in the presentation of your content, but always remember to try and be different, to be more excellent, and to “go contrarian.” Those websites and webpages that are truly unique and stand out from the pack have an edge…

links

Increase Your Linkability

In your diligent efforts to increase your website’s audience and attract visitors you will surely want to accumulate a number of high quality inbound links. This is one of the most reliable ways that Google and other search engines have found thus far to measure the influence, authority, and popularity of your website/webpages. Whether or not you succeed in attracting links depends in large part upon the content on your webpage(s) being linkable. In reviewing the definition of linkability given above, “think before the link” about how to create compelling, uncommon, interesting, useful, and dynamic content. Many (if not most) website owners create content first and then pull their hair out trying to figure out how to get other website owners to link to it. A much better approach to take, whatever the topic your website may be on (even if it is mundane), is to think ahead and create your content in some unique way that will make it stand out. If you aren’t the creative type, hire a consultant that is. Provide him or her with the basic outline of the content for your webpages, and get some ideas on how it could be altered or added to to become more linkable. In certain niches it is okay to be boring, and expected. If it is extremely useful information that can be found nowhere else and you are one of the few experts (or the only expert) on the subject, the links to it will probably come without a lot of out-of-the-box creative application; however, in most cases to compete in a space that is saturated with many others, you will need to find some way that differentiates how you present the material on your website as opposed to how everyone else is presenting similar material. It may take a lot of effort on your part to come up with ideas for doing so, but it will be well worth the time spent. If you are passionate about the subject matter that fills your website with content it will show.

link bait

Linkbait

This leads us to the concept of “linkbait” (or link bait) – a popular term for content that is linkable. Link bait can come in many forms and varieties, but the basic idea is to create content that is worthy of the link because it is outstanding. If you are in the dog training niche, for example, and all of the other dog training websites are rehashing the same types of tips and techniques for training dogs, but you take the time to personally hunt down and interview and record on your website advice from the world-renowned top expert in training German Shepherds, and do the same with Shih Tzus, Labrador Retrievers, Pomeranians, Cocker Spaniels, Boston Terriers, and so on down the line while adding your own anecdotes from personal experiences, and you do this no matter what it takes to contact, make appointments with, and get quotes from this “brain trust” group of individuals, your website will have a core competency that others in your niche do not. Your website will naturally possess better linkability than the websites in your space that are more one-dimensional. This is just one example of link bait and creating content with improved linkability. The point is, though, that if you plan ahead before your content is created, you will become less “married” to content that doesn’t attract links, and as you see this approach working you may even be inspired to go back and make modifications to stale content to spruce it up and help it to also become more linkable. Another benefit to thoughtfully planning your content creation ahead of time is that you will be much less tempted to go “grey hat” or “black hat” in your accumulation of backlinks to your webpages. You won’t have need to try and fool the search engine algorithms because your content will be such that it organically attracts links on its own, along with some legitimate help from you in outreach to other websites strategically requesting links.

web cam

Further Linkbait Examples

So you can get a better handle on linkbait, and to get your mind thinking in this direction, let’s go over a few more possible examples. Let’s say you own and operate a commercial hot springs facility where bathers can experience separate geothermal-warmed spring water pools of varying temperatures. One of the competitive advantages that your facility boasts is that on a corner of your property, removed from your hot springs pools, is a small geyser that erupts like clockwork every hour in similar fashion to “Old Faithful” at Yellowstone National Park. You zero in on this “cool factor” and decide to set up a webcam focused on the geyser so visitors to your website can watch your geyser erupt. Now you’ve captured your website visitors’ curiosity and attention as they eagerly watch the countdown and anticipate the hourly geyser eruption. You’ve managed to increase the dwell time on your site (the amount of time visitors remain engaged on your website) because you’ve provided quite the fascinating attention-getter, and you have something that is very linkable. Okay, not everybody has a geyser on their property that erupts like Old Faithful. But maybe you are an aquarium that allows their patrons to touch the stingrays as they swim by in a shallow pool, and you set up a webcam showcasing this feature on your website as a teaser so your website visitors can “sample” or “preview” your attraction in anticipation of a visit to your aquarium. Or, you are a cuckoo clock maker, and you have 12 different webcams set up, each aimed at a separate cuckoo clock in your shop. In this way your website exhibits quite a charm, as each hour (on the hour) a different cuckoo clock can be seen and heard sounding off.

Maybe you have nothing as visually appealing (or that would be fun to view in real time) as to warrant the expense or effort of setting up a webcam for your users’ enjoyment. But maybe your website sells a service, a cleaning service for example, and you can produce demonstrations of DIY cleaning helps through a series of tutorials you embed on your website via your YouTube channel. The tutorials you provide revolve around the use of common household items and ingredients that few people know can be combined to produce powerful cleaning agents – to remove stubborn stains, to clean toilets, to remove hard water buildup, to clean pet urine, etc. You’ve intrigued and engaged your website visitors by providing very useful and free information, and provided content that is quite novel and very linkable, as well as fostering trust in your company, helping you to land some pretty healthy cleaning contracts.

Maybe you are a photographer, and you have some great pictures of outdoor scenery on your blog from your portfolio. You make use of a very useful WordPress plugin whereby you attract lots of “pins” on people’s Pinterest boards of your work. Your images spread far and wide, getting lots of repins and positive comments and providing you with some good “Pinjuice” (link juice from Pinterest), as well as broadening your audience. You become the next Ansel Adams… People love photos, and Pinterest might just provide you a springboard to stardom much like YouTube gave some vocalists their first shot at become a “viral sensation” and landing recording contracts with big labels.

Another example of possible linkbait could be a widget that you create and provide on your website that is useful and imaginative. Even if what you produce doesn’t become as viral as the pregnancy widget, as long as it is useful to your visitors and provides value for the user experience on your website, like this Eco-Calculator widget, you can count yourself lucky and see it as an added benefit if you get a few hundred or thousand downloads that help spread your links and diversify your link profile (note: with widgets often the creator will include a link to their website at the bottom of it, along with the code for others to install it on their website, hoping for it to get traction as part of an SEO strategy). Some widgets types that might do well possess the cute factor, like Maukie or this fun little social photo sharing app. But by and large those widgets that are useful and interesting are your best bet for SEO purposes.

Onpage/Onsite Linkability Factors

Beyond attracting links via great link bait, your website should also be structured exceptionally. Your website doesn’t need to exhibit fancy flash necessarily (Google bots are getting better at understanding it, though), but it should be aesthetically pleasing. If yours is a blog, of course you wouldn’t want the theme to be a generic WordPress theme, but somehow make the theme relevant to and integrate with the type of content you are providing. This isn’t because Google really cares much what your site looks like, but it possibly could count against (or just not for) you if you have a cookie-cutter theme that is the same as 9,863,412 other blogs/websites. Do something that differentiates the look and feel of your website so that others will want to reference you webpages by linking to them.

Important On Page Elements for Linkability

As far as critical elements to include on your webpages go for increased linkability and for ranking considerations, make sure you follow some basic rules like including your keywords (and supporting words) in your meta title, and using your meta description more to “sell the click.” By the way, the meta keywords are near useless as a ranking factor, so spend very little time selecting these. Search engines still do put quite a bit of weight on the words in your meta title when determining what order websites turn up for a query in the search results, and sometimes just because you have taken care of some of the basic seo principles such as those found in the Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors, and are ranking on the first page of Google for your keyword(s), it increases your linkability and other websites owners are more comfortable linking to you. The logic being that if Google trusts you, maybe they should to. Other important factors are to try to have your keywords in your url wherever possible, include H1’s and H2’s (headers), and beef up on your webpages’ pagespeed if in the event that they could somehow be classified as outliers (slower than the majority of webpages on the internet). Always keep in mind that Google is gravitating more and more towards the way a visitor experiences your website. Slow load times can not only cause a user to bounce back to the search results looking for an alternative, but it also results in lost sales for you, and possibly a decrease in rankings over time.

link silos

Link Siloing

One thing that should be pointed out here is something that relatively few website owners overall have a good handle on as far as the structure and usability of their sites. I’m speaking here specifically of how the site is structured as far as the urls go and the interlinking of important pages. Believe it or not, the categorization of the urls on your website is important. You could call this theming, but a popular term used for it is siloing. Imagine it kind of like a filing cabinet with the different drawers as urls corresponding to particular themes, and the documents in those drawers drilling down to more specific elements within the theme. In addition, the method by which you link to and from pages within your website is quite important, and helps keep things orderly, which is a plus to the bots as they crawl and index your site and determine what it’s all about. It’s also a boon to your visitors as they can navigate through the various pages of your website much more effortlessly and in a more organized fashion. Note that the anchor text that you use to link from one of your pages to the next might be more useful for identifying what Google should rank your pages for than the anchor text of inbound links, especially in the wake of Google’s Penguin update wherein it seems to be that the “new seo” is “un-seo.” Bruce Clay does an excellent job of illustrating both physical siloing (structuring your urls properly) and virtual siloing (interlinking pages of content that revolve around a particular subject).

Crawlability and Indexing

For better crawlability and indexing of your website by the bots from the various search engines, it is part of best practices to include a /robots.txt file on your website. This simply instructs the bots to crawl certain portions of your website and leave others alone. In addition to a robots.txt file, you should also have a thorough sitemap on your website. Here is a simple sitemap generator. And this is Google’s official explanation of sitemaps and their utility.

Rich Snippets/Markup Language

Want your webpages to stand out a little bit from your competitors and catch some eyes (“steal” some clicks) from your competitors who may rank ahead of you in the SERP? Do add rich snippets, then. Schema.org, GoodRelations, and Productontology are some of your choices. If you’re an ecommerce website, it’s quite lovely and advantageous to show the stars you’ve earned from good reviews/ratings. Go here for the “Cliffs Notes” on the practical benefits of including these markup languages on your webpages. If you got it, flaunt it. The rich snippets may increase your linkability and definitely will help you stand out in the search results.

rel=author tag

Rel=Author Tag

If you are a blogger, adding the rel=author tag to your blog allows you to claim your content. An added bonus is that many times your Google Plus profile picture will show up next to your webpage in the search results. Like rich snippets, this often helps increase the click-through rate because it’s visually appealing and unique from the other search results (until which time everyone has implemented the rel=author tag). Overall, this is another way to add credibility to your content, to help you possibly to be seen as an expert in your particular niche, and increases your linkability. Find out the method by which you go about implementing the rel=author tag to your work. And like happens so often with WordPress, programmers help make the process for bloggers easier through plugins like this. While we’re on the subject of WordPress plugins, one of the real classic plugins to aid in the user experience and enhance linkability is this little gem. Ever feel like your WordPress blog posts are a hodgepodge? This WordPress plugin will help “organize” the theming (interlinking) throughout your blog instantaneously after installing and activating it by linking the posts together that are on the same topic (or at least related material).

blog

Website but No Blog?

Having a website is great, but if you don’t have a blog installed on your domain you may not have as wide a reach as you’d like to. Having a blog that is kept current will help you rank for all kinds of long-tail keywords in your niche. It also helps your visitors keep up with the latest of what your company or organization is doing and what you have to offer that is unique. If you keep your readership up-to-date on current trends and happenings in your industry, you’ll continue to grow to be more authoritative. Blogging adds personability (and thus linkability) to your website. If you are blogging regularly, you’ll pick up a following as well as a place for your readers to interact with you via the comments section of each post. Blogs that are kept current are spidered quite regularly and indexed very quickly after each post is published (within seconds or minutes). Each blog post you make is another opportunity to rank for something else that you know about and wish to be found for. Your blog posts can help reach searchers that may not quite be in the buying mode yet, but you are answering questions for them a little “upstream” from the sale. As you meet their needs, they’ll stick with you, and when it’s time for them to purchase you’ll be the one they have grown to trust and they’ll purchase from you.

Include Pictures

Aim to include relevant pictures on your website. And don’t hesitate to label them with the appropriate titles and alt text. You don’t have to go overboard and include keywords in the alt text of every one of your pictures. Just simply describe what your picture is about. It would be an interesting study to compare the average dwell time of a group of websites that have only text verses a group of those that have at least a smattering of pictures. It would seem logical that those with the pictures would have better user engagement. When you include pictures or other types of media on the pages of your website, it appears you have taken more pride in what you have to offer and generally attracts more interest. It’s easier on the eyes and breaks up the text into more readable segments.

Social Sharing

Adding buttons or icons for social sharing, such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus One, Digg, Delicious, Reddit, Pinterest, email and the like, can not only help your content appear to be more “socially accepted”, but can also help you in your efforts to get more eyeballs to your site as others recommend your webpages to their own social sphere of influence via these networks. Further, don’t be afraid to have a call to action somewhere on your site, which says something like, “Link to us!” with code that can be copied to the user’s clipboard to make linking to you from their website as easy as pie. The less complicated something is, the more people are likely to follow through.

Quality Content That Couldn’t be Classified as Thin

Make sure that you really do have valuable content, and that it isn’t “thin”. There’s really no rule about how much content you should have on your webpages, but Google has an animal (called Panda) that is part of its algorithm that can easily spot webpages that have little content and lots of outbound affiliate links or tons of ads. These are prime examples of “thin content.” Much of this is common sense, and as a human can be easily detected and avoided if you are wishing to provide worthwhile material for your readers. The days are becoming much rarer that a website can be produced solely for the “spiders” and be expected to rank in the Google index, which is a good thing. Expect to have to contribute something worthwhile to rank anywhere competitively. Your website’s content is going to be measured against possibly a few hundred other websites in your niche (including the best of the best) by the Google algorithm to see how you stack up according to a number of different signals. Don’t stuff keywords; write naturally. And as Google is getting to the point where it can probably tell what your site is about anyway – possibly via Latent Semantic indexing or some other word association technology – don’t worry so much about mentioning your keywords enough times or too little, as long as it reads smoothly to a human reader. This is probably why badly spun content is not going to help you, either. If you put your document through a spinner and it comes out as gibberish and you post this type of stuff on your webpages, it probably looks like gibberish to the tools that Google uses as well. In any case, it makes for a poor user experience and a high bounce rate. And you’d be well advised not to create spun content to submit elsewhere (article directories, Web 2.0, etc.) that includes links pointing to your site. If perhaps it does inflate your rankings for a time, it may come back to bite you if you make a link request for a link on a page with great TrustRank, but you are denied because without knowing it a savvier website owner peeked at your backlink profile using SEO Spyglass, SEOmoz, Majestic SEO, or ahrefs, and found that many of your backlinks were spammy so decided not to have anything to do with the tomfoolery. If you seek some guidance on the proper usage of different variations of your keyword, and related words, check out this LSI keyword tool. Just remember not to overdo it or be so calculated as to write unnaturally.

social networks

Use the Social Networks to Enhance Your Credibility and to Interact

One of the things that you can do to be more linkable that is not onsite, but reinforces everything you do onsite, is to engage on the social networks that are relevant/would be appropriate for your niche. If it’s appropriate (and it most often is), have a company or organization Facebook page. Engage on Pinterest (but don’t be too self-promotional). Have a presence on Twitter if you deem it appropriate. The more you are engaged on these social channels the more you look like a bona fide establishment. You will be less likely to be seen as fly-by-night or sketchy. Other websites will link to you more often when they see you have exposure across several domains like this.

Outbound Linking: Why do (and Why Should) Websites Interlink?

Giving Your Visitors a Compass

Outbound linking benefits your site visitors, helping those who are searching for information to find it more easily as they navigate through their topic of interest (with your site as the beginning point or even a stopping point somewhere along their journey). It can help to eliminate the need of your website visitor to “bounce” back to Google, Bing, or Yahoo, but rather to continue through their path of instruction, education, or entertainment more naturally and effortlessly.

Other Sources Back-Up or Expound Upon Your Ideas

As your website visitors read through, digest, and assimilate information about their topic of interest, the diligent researcher wants to find relevant, authoritative sources to back up the facts they are absorbing as presented by you. When things are stated as facts, it’s always nice to know other sources agree or can even expound further upon an idea or concept. Your website visitor may even want to explore pathways that are congruent (or at times offer an opposing point of view) to those which you are presenting.

Linking out Shows Trust

Linking to another website is a vote of confidence, reward, and a show of goodwill to the link receiver. It is a suggestion from the link giver that the website linked to is trusted and can provide additional useful data and information on a topic. Some SEO’s (search engine optimization professionals) have also experienced outbound linking increasing their own linkability via the receipt of a reciprocal link from the linked-to website owner, though coming from a more holistic SEO stance that should not be the end goal.

Dead End

Link Out So You Don’t Become a Dead End

Sharing other websites with your visitors by linking out reinforces the concept that no one entity (website) has all of the pertinent information on a subject. No one website can provide exhaustive information about any particular topic, nor should that be its goal. When a website becomes the “Go-to” source of information on a theme it is not necessarily because that website is the end-all be-all. As a website owner you should be more interested in becoming a specialist rather than a generalist. Your niche should be that which you are most passionate about and have spent the most time either “inventing” or become a superior value add-on to. Don’t be afraid to “pass on” some of your visitors to valuable information on other websites that you in your efforts to specialize cannot provide (and who says they won’t be back, especially if you linked to something valuable or enlightening to them?). Make it your mantra that: “Paying it forward is better than the bounceback.” In the ever-evolving search engine updates, keep in mind the Algo vs. Ego argument: it’s ALL about the user experience! Realize already that in part this is what is meant by “Content is King.”

If You’re Solid, What’s the Worry?

When your facts are solid, your information compelling, and your ideas enlightening, outbound linking does not diminish you, your website, or your credibility, but rather elevates it. It shows you know much about your subject, that you have done your due diligence and accumulated notable knowledge and wisdom, becoming an expert in your field to the extent that you have a wealth of information at your fingertips to draw upon when needed, and are the person (website) to go to when important queries are made related to your discipline.

Outbound Linking Abstinence: Some Legitimate Reasons

While outbound linking is generally a good practice, and is probably a part of search engine algorithms (either directly or indirectly), there are some legitimate reasons why a website may not wish to link to content on another website, and in some instances may in fact be prohibited from doing so.

  • A smart website owner will not link to outside sources that are taboo or part of “bad neighborhoods.” This is usually pretty self-explanatory. Linking out to porn, pills, gambling, and warez websites should already be against best practices of individual website owners, and may harm their ranking prospects in the SERP (search engine results pages).
  • Acceptance of money in exchange for placing a link on a website (a paid link) without adding the nofollow attribute is against Google’s best practices. Website owners do so at their own risk. Google has every right to assess a penalty either algorithmically or manually to websites that either engages in buying links or accepting payment for links that don’t follow their stated best practices.
  • Linkable or not, the website being linked to is irrelevant to the audience of the website that is linking to it. This is a judgment call by the website owner. This type of linking practice is not dictated by Google, and can be a normal activity on the internet. It is not necessarily frowned upon by Google as there can be instances where it is perfectly appropriate. But, random outbound linking is not encouraged, and is generally a detraction to your website visitors. Again, generally speaking, an outbound link that is thematically related to your website and its content is better for you, your visitors, and the website being linked to.
  • There are some instances where the policies of the website owner or organization may be prohibited from linking to certain websites. It is quite normal for a .gov website not to show favoritism towards any particular commercial website. Linking to such may be against policy or possibly law. So as not to be seen as an endorsement of an entity, especially a “for profit” one, there are occasions where a conflict of interest would cause an organization’s website not to cite another website by linking to it.
  • Direct competitors. There is no law or rule that states that one cannot hyperlink to his or her competition. However, it can be a legitimate concern, in the retail space for example. The logic of a website owner and business person for not awarding a backlink to his or her competitor(s) is usually somewhere along the lines of thinking that any extra backlink that the competition gets would only help them in their quest for better PR (in this case public relations and PageRank) and sales, which could in turn harm the business owner with the website doing the linking. It’s a case of needing to be cautious in their linking practices. Whether a business owner’s website could tactfully link to competitor’s and not suffer “supposed” loss of business, credibility, or “wusiness” would be an interesting study. Have you never gotten a pleasant referral from a brick-and-mortar business sales associate in a competitive space with another when the first could not provide you with something you needed at the time? And what of the positive repercussions that might possibly result from a search bot “reporting” to its algorithm that your webpage is a source or hub of authoritative citations of legitimate entities within your field of expertise? Food for thought.
  •  Disagreeing with standards or practices. A website would be ill-advised, based on principle, to link out to other websites whose practices or standards (businesswise or philosophically) were seen by them as unsatisfactory, of low quality, or even reprehensible.
PageRank

Can Outbound Linking “Leak Out” Some of My PageRank?

Any SEO worth their salt will steer you less away from PageRank and instead more towards TrustRank. Whether or not linking to content on the web deemed (by you) a reputable source and thematically related to your own website “leaks” away some of your PageRank should be a moot point for the thoughtful webmaster. Google has said that PageRank is only one of the many factors it uses to figure placement or rank in its search engine result pages (out of 200+ ranking signals). In point of fact, web pages with lesser PageRank can and often do rank higher than do web pages of greater PageRank. Of greater concern to webmasters should be whether or not they have a sufficient amount of TrustRank for their website and webpages, as TrustRank most probably incorporates more parameters and signals as to whether a webpage ranks well in the SERP, by ascertaining whether or not a webpage compared to other similar webpages is more or less authoritative. Some notable SEOs even believe that PageRank is a contrived distraction dreamed up by Google to get the over exuberant optimizer chasing leprechauns as it were. More likely, PageRank is simply one part of the algorithm that has been either overemphasized and/or outdated.

Instead of worrying about some PageRank leakage from outbound links to a source outside of your own webpage, again it makes much more sense to focus upon TrustRank and user experience. Of course, this is not to say onsite linking is not also very important and necessary for a good user experience, but the balance between the two only makes your website better. Google’s webspam team is constantly fighting against spam tactics aimed at manipulating search results (by spotting unnatural behaviors); don’t you think a curated and well-placed, relevant outbound link that helps them in the curation process is something they could consider a valuable attribute, one that contributes to usability and possibly lead to some type of “reward” (to the site doing the linking)? Further, doesn’t it tend towards the unnatural end of the spectrum for a website to only ever get inbound links and never link outside from any of their webpages? For Google to be mirroring social behavior (SEO seems to be evolving more toward what a searcher does), it seems quite odd that it would see an “island” website – one that is walled off in effect – and still want to deem it popular and authoritative. A well-liked person doesn’t normally stay well-liked by only passively being talked about and talking only about themselves. Imagine a busy executive receiving telephone calls all of the time, but never placing an outbound call. It’s not natural. Why should a website/webpage be any different? Don’t misconstrue this to mean that you will notice cause and effect, i.e. that once you strategically place what you believe to be a quality outbound link or two on a webpage within your website that will be the magic that puts you over the edge and increases your ranking in search substantially or even noticeably. Again, it’s only possibly one of the factors that may contribute to your success, though there is a strong argument to be made (from without the inner sanctums of Google) that it is “one of the pieces of the puzzle.” And, taking it from another angle, there’s the possible indirect increased ranking result stemming from other websites seeing you as a quotable/citable/linkable resource since your webpage is a quality contributor in your space because you do link out to some great resources. This follows the philosophy of good karma, and the law of attraction – like attracting like.

A Healthy Balance of Inbound and Outbound Linking

As a responsible website owner, you should approach linking from both sides of the fence, both giving and receiving. Your linkability should increase readily as you participate in outbound linking. Ironically, you’ll probably do better overall and in search if you participate in giving back to the community in which you are a part of – the community of the World Wide Web. There are websites that have tiny inbound linking profiles (they don’t seem to be actively engaged in building links) that follow the linkability concepts outlined above and they not only rank well for their keywords, but they also have healthy pagerank (PR3′s, PR4′s).

The How, When, and Where of Outbound Linking

Outbound linking is especially important for a new website to gain traction and win trust by showing Google that the site is a legitimate resource in a particular niche. When your website is brand new, your link profile will have few if any inbound links, so begin the link equation by outbound linking. For best results, here are some ideas:

1. Link out to webpages that have similar themes as your webpage as manifested by at least a partial keyword match in the webpage meta title of the webpage you are linking to (i.e your webpage is about magic tricks and the meta title of the webpage you link to has the word magic in it).
2. The text on the linked-to page has synonyms to your H1.
3. The hyperlink anchor text you create to outbound link with is a tight match with your content.
4. Link out to webpages that have similar keywords as your webpage as demonstrated in the linked-to page’s url.

These are some good rules of thumb on how, when, and where to outbound link. They are indicators to Google of relevancy. Also be sure that your outbound link is surrounded by other text that is on topic and supportive to the keyword. And if you receive a legitimate link request from a webmaster that is on topic with your content, and that would be a good reference for your visitors, by all means do link out to it.

Rankings Boost

Links as Traffic and Rankings Boost

Some last words on prospecting for links. Some links may provide you direct traffic, while others may play a heavier role in serving to boost your rankings in the search engine results. Take note that the best links do both. A more holistic type of search engine optimization practice is to seek and receive the same types of links as those which you give in your outbound linking. If you never link out from your own content, how will you know how to spot the most favorable link opportunities wherein you should encourage others to link to you (and assume that they quite possibly will because you “practice what you preach”?) Outside of Cyberspace good marketing and promotion is to a great extent dependent on location, location, and location. As you hone your skills in SEO, you’ll be able to tell that a good contextual backlink given and received, in a well-placed location helps both websites involved (and the searcher) to get what they need. It’s a win-win scenario. Google is focusing more and more on the user experience… shouldn’t you be as well?

Link to Us!

If you found this instruction on linkability and outbound linking useful, please link to us by copying and pasting the following code onto your website or blog:

Learn about linkability and the merits of outbound linking at <a href="http://www.linkability.org">www.Linkability.org</a>.

or,

Learn about linkability and the merits of outbound linking at <a href="http://www.linkability.org/linkability-and-the-case-for-outbound-linking">www.Linkability.org</a>.


Link Building

Posted: June 15th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: search engine optimization | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | No Comments »

Link Building is Prospecting

Just like panning for gold, link building is quite a bit like prospecting.  You’re not likely to strike it rich without a lot of careful, attentively alert, and calculated efforts.  Each new opportunity can be hit or miss, but every chance is worth a try.  Like gold panning, you can turn up nothing, turn up a few specks, and even once in a while find a great nugget.  Earning the hard links is what gets rewarded.

High Quality Backlinks

When you set out on your link building expedition and are looking for other webpages to link back to you, you need to know how to determine whether or not the links you are prospecting for are high quality backlinks or not.  We’ll talk more about this later, but it’s really not your job to be a link hoarder and build thousands or even hundreds of backlinks to your webpage(s).  The real key to the equation of link popularity (an outgrowth of linkability) is high-powered links that pass a lot of authority and ranking power to your webpage.  It is quite common for webpages to have even just a handful of good, solid inbound links to them and still rank very stable on the top half of the first page for a given keyword.  You might check a niche’s landscape and find among the competition’s backlinks one website that has just a fraction of the links that another website has, and the former ranks in the number 1 or number 2 spot, while the latter is in the number 5 or 6 spot.  One reason can be the authority of the domain, while another can be the relevancy of the webpages from which the links were obtained.

How to Determine if a Link is of Good Quality or Not

One of the first things that you want to do when link building is to find out if the webpage that you would be reaching out to to ask for a link from ranks for anything in its Meta title and/or its URL.  If it ranks on the first page for a keyword in its Meta title that is either in the same niche or a related one to yours, that is a great indicator that you might want to prospect that link.  If it ranks for more than one keyword in its niche, that then is a very strong indicator (pay dirt, baby!) it would be quite an authoritative link for you to have, and that you should treat the correspondence that you have with that webmaster as an important part of your career.

If the webpage you are seeking a link from ranks mostly because it has an EMD (Exact Match Domain) for the keyword, that is not as wonderful of an indicator, but is still likely worthy of you prospecting a link from, since it is still very relevant.   If that EMD ranks for several related keywords, it is indeed then very likely an authority in its niche.

Also, check other inner pages of a website to see if they in fact also rank for the keywords in their Meta titles and URLs.  That would indicate a good, solid structure of the website, and possibly a well-balanced distribution of incoming links.

Don’t be too concerned if you aren’t awarded a link on a specific page of your choosing on a domain whose webmaster you reach out to, but instead are granted a link on an alternative page or a new page that you are allowed to “create” (contribute).  Because it is on a domain shown to have some authority, you will still be well served by it.  If you are granted the opportunity to create a page, try to see that it gets linked to from the homepage if possible.

Generally speaking, to prospect for quality backlinks you need to find webpages with thematically-related material to your own.  Everything else being even, links from these types of pages are more critical to your success than other ones are.  You can get links from webpages that are loosely related or unrelated, but the further you go down that continuum, the more spammy your links look to the search engine algorithms.

Build a Smaller Collection of Lower-Tiered Links

There are lower-tiered links that you may seek as well, but these are more like ones that you try to pick up by the wayside of your prospecting activities.  You are out gold panning and between dips in the stream you happen across something that’s not gold, but it’s nevertheless interesting, and you pick it up and add it to your collection of keepsakes.  It may be a stone that has a unique pattern on it, or one that has some great coloring.  They aren’t as valuable.  But, then again, they may turn out to be and you just didn’t know it at first.  It’s worth bending over, picking them up, and holding on to them.  These are links from websites that may not rank on the first couple pages of Google for their keyword, may not have any PageRank, might be a loose match for your niche or keyword, might have been last crawled 6 weeks ago, might be a comment you make on a blog post you read that was interesting to you, could be a directory listing that rarely gets visited, etc.  The point is that although you don’t actively seek these, when you come across them you pick a few of them up just in case.  They actually help make for a more natural looking link building profile and add to your diversity of types of backlinks.

Checking Google’s Cache as Another Indicator

When looking for webpages to link to you, check Google’s cache; if the webpage hasn’t been cached in the past couple of weeks, Google might not identify that webpage as all that important.  If it’s been months since Google last crawled the page, you might consider bypassing that link building opportunity for a better one.  Even if a webpage’s content doesn’t update a lot, the crawlers still come if it is actively linked to.  And if it is actively linked to, it’s likely a good place for you to get a quality link from.

b. Build the links that are looking for you
1. Guest posting on blogs using Ann Smarty’s resource, http://www.myblogguest.com
c. Should I pursue backlinks from sources unrelated (or loosely related) to my niche?
1. Some “generic” link sources

II. How to Get Good Backlinks

a. Become a pattern-watcher (like Google is), and build links with “chaotic orderliness.”
b. Shall I make my bread and butter links be those that have high PageRank?
c. Which anchor texts should I use most often when I build links?
d. Varying the types of links you build

III. How Many Backlinks do I Need to Build in Order to Rank for a Certain Keyword?

a. If you go about it by more of a “How much value am I creating” mindset, the number question flies out the window. Work from the standpoint of if you were only allowed 25 links, which ones would they be? You have to be smart about it because some won’t accept your proposal, and you will have to determine in what cases to satisfice. It is okay and natural to have some lower quality links.
b. Google’s algorithm understands quite well what is on your page; it is becoming less important what your anchor text says specifically.
c. Branding is on the upswing.

IV. Should I Use a Tool to Find Potential Linking Opportunities?

a. What are the available tools?
b. Are Any of the Tools Really Sufficient?
1. How to read between the lines of available data

V. Link Building by Cold Calling

a. Link Building is relationship building
1. The difference between White Hat SEO and Black Hat SEO is “I’ll do it myself, and I don’t give a hoot about whether any of my links are clicked-through by a human reader” vs. “I actually need some help, I’m a part of a greater whole, and hopefully I can get some direct referral traffic out of the equation”
b. How to write a “link letter”