A field guide to links

Posted on October 29, 2010

 

Watching Malcolm and Brenda

'Twitcher' Malcolm, and Brenda, in ITV sitcom 'Watching'

Like every obsessed twitcher, Pokémon nut or train spotter with his glasses held together at the bridge with a sticking plaster, it’s important to have a field guide to hand when embarking on a link building campaign for your website. Why is this, I hear you ask? Well, if you’ve ever flirted with link building, even in passing, you should be aware that links can vary in quality from the truly excellent to the ‘kiss of death’ type. If you’re trying to cultivate links for your site, it’s handy to know what links are the most desirable, what ones can be considered as low hanging fruit and what ones to avoid. Here’s a quick round up of the most common links available to you:

The Authoritative Link
This is a highly desirable link to have. Positively bursting with link juice, it’s a difficult one to snag. It’s a link from a site which is considered an authority, but it doesn’t have to be from a site that operates within your industry – a link from Wikipedia or a respected news site such as the BBC can do much to give your site a boost.

The Institutional Link
This is also highly sought after. It’s a link from a government website, or a respected educational establishment such as a university.

Directories
A link from a directory can be really useful to any SEO campaign. The best known directories are by and large trusted by search engines, as they are highly relevant to search queries. Links from lesser known directories can be helpful, though obviously not as much.

The Reciprocal Link
This is more of a ‘you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours’ type of link, whereby you provide a link for a website for one in return. Google frowns on this a little, as it is able to detect networks of reciprocal links. Search engines haven’t banned them completely, though, so such links if grown organically can be useful.

The Friendly Link
These are links to your website volunteered by another relevant site, and are considered to be far better than reciprocal links. You can always approach the owner of another site to perform this favour for you, but such links are best achieved by having engaging, relevant content on your own website; the links will come naturally then.

The Comment Link
Bit of a sneaky one this, but no less legitimate for it. You can link to your site when commenting on another. You at least have control over the link, but much subtlety must be used for it to be successful. If the site’s owner moderates comments, he may take exception to you plugging your own and flag it as spam.

This list should be useful for those of you who are just embarking on your search engine optimisation careers, but the list is by no means exhaustive. You will, along the way, learn your own tricks to apply to SEO.

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