Link Building 2012

Link building is the process of getting other sites to link to your site. These inbound links are also known as backlinks. Link building is an important aspect of SEO. In fact, some web marketing strategists estimates that backlinks account for about 60 percent of Google’s ranking algorithm. This means that 60 percent of the factors that get your site ranked in Google search results pages is determined by the backlinks to your site.

Backlinks have always been an important factor in Google’s page ranking strategy. However, as of the most recent Google update, relevant backlinks carry more weight than backlinks from sites where the content is not similar or relevant to your site. In other words, in the past, any backlinks were considered good and these links tended to build your sites ranking. However, Google recently changed it’s strategy and now, only backlinks from sites with content relevant to your site are considered desirable. In fact, backlinks from sites that are not related in content may actually cost your site in ranking.

Google made these changes in attempts to promote a more “organic” linking between sites. By this they mean that backlinks are only desirable if they live on a site that is similar or relevant to yours. Link farms and link building blogs once allowed SEO pros to list backlinks to sites with no relevance to the originating blog or site. The destination site still benefited from the backlink in terms of their Google page rank. Google was not happy with this approach. The search engine giant updated the algorithm to weight backlinks from relevant sites more heavily than backlinks from sites that are not relevant. In fact, Google went so far as to de-index a few link farms and link building blog sites, putting a few completely out of business.

Though Google’s gestapo approach was not appreciated by SEO pros who had spent months and even years building their clients’ sites through strategies that are now considered black-hat SEO, the fact is they did it because they can. Hopefully, an alternative to Google will someday emerge and the monopoly on search will be broken. Until then, it’s Google’s world and we just live in it.

Link Building Strategies for 2012

To abide by Google’s “organic” linking rules, and to benefit from the cherished backlinks, these inbound links to your site must originate from sites relevant to your own. For example, say you have an ecommerce site that sells pet products. If you approach your local animal shelter and they agree to publish a link to your site on their site, this would be considered a relevant backlink and, YIPPIE, Google would reward you! If however, you cousin Sam owns an auto parts website, having Sam publish a link to your pet products site may actually cost you in page rank.

Free tools are available that help you keep track of sites that are backlinked to your site. The WebConf Domain Stats web-based tool or Majestic SEO will track sites that publish inbound links to your site. Keep track of sites that are linking to your site in order to keep Google happy and your site ranking well in the SERPs.