Earlier, it mainly consisted of submitting one’s sites to a number of search engines and directories so that their indexing programs, more popularly known as “robots” or “spiders”, can crawl through all of the HTML code of a page and use their individual page ranking algorithms, which were highly confidential, to ascribe a ranking to the page.
This was a fairly simple method and effective too until the emergence of spammers.
However, the loop holes of this system were soon ‘found out’ by the search engines as it was relatively easy for a spammer to get his or her site in the top search displays by using the targeted keyword as many times as possible on the page – in the headings and the text – in the META tags, HTML code, description, marquee and so on.
This was effectively hidden from the browsers by either minimizing the text to unreadable proportions or by simply hiding them with the help of HTML tricks. With search engines lacking the cutting edge technology to identify this kind of spam, such sites invariably got high rankings without providing any valuable information on the subject.
Link building and its impact on the search engine rankings in the past
Nonetheless, with search engines’ ranking algorithms becoming more and more sophisticated by the day, they now tend to take better advantage of external information regarding a site to offer better results as the information contained inside a document can be easily manipulated. This restricts a site with poor quality content from appearing in the top search displays.
One such external factor that has come to acquire considerable significance in engine ranking is link building. Google is seen as the pioneer of this technique as it developed the PageRank algorithm under which the relevance of an inbound link plays an important role in determining the ranking of a site.
The irony here is that every leap in ranking algorithms has been closely followed by new search engine optimization techniques that try to cheat these advanced algorithms.
For instance, the new breed of spammers now buy several domains that link to each other or pay sites with high visibility to include their links in their pages to get higher rankings.
In fact, a number of websites engage in link exchange schemes and build partner pages exclusively for the sole purpose of cross-linking their sites.
In this quest, they often overlook the quality of links that they are generating and suffer in the long-term due to their indiscretion.
This is because such practice is seen in violation of Google’s Webmaster guidelines, which is likely to have an adverse impact on the site’s ranking in search results.
However, this situation can be easily avoided by paying attention to your site’s content and ensuring that it is both useful and unique.
In such a case, your site will soon become popular in the Internet community, thus increasing your chances of getting quality links from various relevant and credible sites.
The fact that links are valuable is widely accepted in the cyber space. However, their value depends largely on the source page from where they come.
Linking and its importance in SEO in present times
Of the three pillars of search engine optimization, namely content, site architecture and links, for some, the last one is the trickiest.
Though we have already established the importance of linking to get a good search engine ranking, the weightage that the search algorithms assign to links has varied from past to present and will be different for future as well.
To make the most of your optimization efforts make sure that the links that you generate are of high quality.
You can employ any of the most popular methods of link generation today – directory submissions, submitting articles to article syndicates, guest posting, RSS Directories, blog carnivals, social bookmarking….
Irrespective of the method that you deploy to secure inbound links for your website, make sure that your link text is interesting, keyword rich and varied.
It is imperative to have good link text as various search engines read this text to determine what your website is all about. Thus, if your site is about hotels, try to have link texts that not only talk about hotels in various destinations but also associated services as well such as package tours, air travel information, bookings and reservations.
The future tense of linking
With the search engines continually striving for more sophisticated algorithm systems to improve their ability to identify and distinguish between quality index pages and those that have been spammed or use black hat optimization techniques, the economics of link building is all set to revolutionize as well.
I believe, in the coming years, links will play an even more critical role in earning the trust, authority and importance required to rank among the top searches.
With techniques such as advanced non-HTML content indexing, XML feeds and clustering already on the table, the face of the Internet and SEO is all geared up for a makeover.
If you do not want your blog site to lag behind in the rat race for better rankings in the next few years, now is the time to revamp your link building campaign. You can either do it yourself or get professional help to infuse a new life into your site.
The next post in this Link Building Campaign series will discuss ‘the ways to get back links’