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How to create indexable links: Part 2 External links

Following on from our last blog looking at effective internal links, here we will analyse the importance of creating external links from a SEO perspective. External links are often referred to as ‘votes’ or ‘footprints’ and clearly show search engines which websites are both popular and creditable.

Many industry professionals think that external links are the single most important factor influencing ranking as search engine algorithms use links to measure user insights like trust, authority, and the reverse!

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Although we, and Google, have always advocated quality of links over quantity the reality used to be that external link success used to be measured mainly by quantity.  But since Google’s Panda and Penguin updates, aimed at catching spammy link building, quality links are now the only way to go and masses of low quality links are now detrimental to your website.

This means that sites that have optimised pages with a quality footprint leading to them will rank in a better position and more able to reap the rewards of increased traffic, leads and sales.

External link referral activity can now be categorised into 3 steps:

1) Viral links. Or, in other words, give the search engines what they are looking for. If you create interesting, engaging, useful and up-to-date content on your site the process will start naturally – external sites will begin to link to your pages. The better quality of your content, the better quality link referrer you will attract. Examples of referral sites that can positively influence your ranking are:

  • Other high ranking websites
  • Websites written and edited by third parties eg. Wikipedia
  • .org domains and not-for-profit organisations
  • .gov domains
  • National newspaper and news sites

 2) Anchor text. If over 40% of your link referrals use the same text when linking to your site you might get penalised. Same if the anchor text is too spammy. External anchor text should look like, and should be, created by a person writing the link in a natural way. Therefore having a good variety of ‘non-exact keyword’ anchor text links from relevant and trusted sites works well.

You can check what is being used as anchor text for your current link referrals in Google Analytics. You can then remove or update links over the 40% rule and see what can be improved.

3) Non-viral links. Here our top suggestions but there are many techniques you can use and the list is limitless. Just bear in mind the quality over quantity rule and regularly check your referrers so you can delete any dubious ones:

  • Guest posts on relevant sites
  • Press releases (online & offline)
  • Blogs/newsletters (in-house and outsourced)
  • Being helpful and answering questions in forums
  • Joining in online discussion groups
  • Allow product reviews
  • Get involved with your the local community…

As you can see, link building is time consuming, challenging and skilled. Success will also depend on your industry and the amount of competition you have. So if you have any questions or need any advice then please give us a call, on 01225 863047.