Google wrapped up its blog series on links last night with a post on inbound links. Quite frankly, I’m not a bit surprised at the message they delivered, but I am surprised that the post was much shorter than I anticipated. Their post on outbound links was much more detailed.
Reading the Google Webmaster Central Blog, one might think that Google values outbound links more than inbound links when it comes to good search engine optimization strategy. That could be because of Google’s philosophy that the Web is a massive connection of networked computers. Links are what the Web is all about. Why then do we say “Content is King?”
It all boils down to POV. From the perspective of individual webmasters, quality content is your value. Put up a blank page as a website and what will you get? There is nowhere on earth where “you get out what you put in” is more relevant and more true than in website development. In a word, links are content. But that doesn’t mean you can build a page with nothing more than links and do well. It does mean that you should consider links as a part of your content.
If Google is correct and natural linking patterns are the preferred way to link from site to site and from page to page then to think of links as anything other than a piece of your content is a bit foolhardy. Links are the commerce of the Web. That’s why anchor text is so important. According to the Google Webmaster Central Blog, there are three levels of link relevance:
- Inbound link with anchor text and valuable content message
- Inbound link using URL as hyperlink and valuable content message
- Inbound link using URL as hyperlink and generic content message
The first levels of relevance are described as “Quality, relevant” inbound links. The last level is described as “low quality”. If that doesn’t tell you what Google is looking for then I don’t know what will. But the real meat of Google’s blog post is in the how. How can you get those types of quality links that every webmaster is looking for? Here’s a quick laundry list:
- Start a blog
- Make videos
- Use original research
- Post interesting information regularly
- Be a teacher
- Deliver something new
- Be entertaining
- Be insightful
- Become an expert
- Interview interesting people in your niche
- Participate in other blogs in your niche
- Post user reviews
- Provide a useful product or service
Interestingly, Google doesn’t mention buying paid links, submitting press releases, article marketing, directory submissions, or one of the many other methods of link building often touted by the top search engine optimization “experts.” That’s because Google’s philosophy is based on natural linking methods, not forced link building strategies. While directory submissions, articles, press releases, and other types of links can be good inbound links for your website, though I wouldn’t recommend buying links as that might get your site penalized, the best way to get inbound links is to produce quality content on your site. Then if you succeed at building a website that people love, they will link to you automatically with natural links that Google will favor.