Sarah Masters SEO: Links 101

Another day, another “Sarah Masters SEO” post. Things are getting a little more nitty-gritty today with figuring out link values and the different kinds of links you can create. Links are a top ranking factor in SEO, meaning they are vital in understanding how SEO works.

Links 101

I remember about a month and a half ago, I had a conversation with a former classmate about her job working for a digital marketing agency, and I was seriously confused about why she was trying to get bloggers to link to her clients. Thanks to Moz, I now totally get what my classmate was talking about and see why links are so beneficial. Not only do links help measure popularity, but they also give search engines an idea of a site’s level of “trust, spam, and authority.”

Factors that lead to link value:

  • Global popularity: A lot of people from around the world are linking to a site. Moz uses the example of Wikipedia.
  • Local/Topic-Specific Popularity: Someone in your niche who links back to your website has more value than an unrelated subject matter. When I worked for Story magazine, Longform.org (an online community that promotes texts substantial in length online) linked to one of the fiction pieces we published online. Because Longform.org is respected in the online literary community, its linking to Story is more valuable than when an average Joe would link back to the piece.
  • Anchor text: Like I talked about in a previous post, anchor texts help direct search engines to what people may be looking for when they search certain keywords. 
  • TrustRank: Having “universities, government websites and non-profit organizations” link back to you shows that a trusted resources trusts you; therefore, search engines can trust what you post.
  • Link Neighborhood: Search engines can see who you are linking to so you want to make sure you’re not connecting yourself to spam in anyway. Otherwise, it will be assumed you’re doing spam-y things as well.
  • Freshness: Search engines are looking for content that is relevant, meaning they keep an eye out for:
  • Social sharing: If something goes viral on your social media channels, search engines will be alerted to this link sharing. Although social sharing is important, links still hold more power for search engines

Types of links:

  • Natural/editorial: A site will refer back to yours because they want to be related to your content or company. Like why I’m linking back to Moz as opposed to some other random SEO blog post. I want to be associated with a well-respected SEO company, not a novice blogger like myself.  
  • Manual/Outreach: In this scenario, you’re contacting bloggers or submitting sites to directories, while explaining to said people you’re contacting why it is beneficial for them to link to your site.
  • Self-created/Non-editorial: This is where people leave their link in a comments section or forum signature. Overall best avoided because it can look real spam-y, real quick.

There’s more to learn about links in my next blog post, specifically about campaigns and I hope you’ll join me. Tomorrow is my second interview with Web Talent Marketing and no matter how it goes (although I’m being positive and have my fingers crossed), I’m planning on finishing up my “Sarah Masters SEO” series with the help of Moz and all the other wonderful SEO resources.