If you're serious about making your site more visible to search engines and thus to consumers, then link building is something which needs to be integrated into your SEO plans.
Google and other search engines determine the order in which they rank web pages in their search results using a number of different criteria, one of which is link popularity.
Link popularity refers to the number of links which point to your website as well as where these links originate from and what sort of links they are - we'll explain a bit more about this later.
Most of the visitors who click through to your website find their way there through the search engines rather than through these links on other websites.
However, every little bit of traffic does help; and having a large number of links to your website makes the search engines perceive your site as more important.
Because of this, will assign a higher page rank. Even if your links aren't generating much traffic in and of themselves, they help your site draw more visitors through the search engines.
Not all links are equally valuable
Links which originate from websites whose content is related to your own (for example, websites of other companies in the same industry as yours) are better for SEO purposes than those which point to your site from unrelated sites.
Links from sites which are themselves popular are also seen as more valuable by search engines and will do more to improve your own search engine ranking.
There are plenty of different ways of going about a link building campaign, though you can break down links into two broad categories:
Reciprocal links are links which you exchange with another website. They link to you and you reciprocate by linking back to them. These links can be helpful, though they are no longer given as much weight by search engines (Google and Yahoo in particular) as they once were.
Non-reciprocal links are links which point to your website from another site which yours does not link to. These links are considered to be more important by search engines, since they demonstrate that your website is seen as an authoritative source of information.
Non-reciprocal links from popular sites within your own industry are of course the most valuable links of all.
It should be noted that reciprocal links are not a bad thing, they're just not valued as highly by the major search engines.
Before you begin a link building campaign, you'll need to make sure that you've already determined which keywords to optimize your site for - like every other part of your SEO campaigns, link building works using your primary keywords as its foundation.
About this SEO article
This article was written by John S. Britsios (aka Webnauts), Search Experience Consultant at SEO Workers and was published November 12, 2009. For reproduction, please read our Reproduction of Articles & Tutorials policy.