With apologies to FUBU (an apparel company whose name stands for For Us By Us), it's almost as if Google could be rebranded "FHBH" thanks to its ranking practices relating to links. Links are the most important elements of search engine optimization because Google assumes they "are created by humans for humans," says Danny Dover, SEO lead with Seattle-based SEO software provider SEOmoz.
"Out of all the SEO metrics—so out of the Google algorithm—about 60 percent of them have to do with links," he adds.
But Dover and others who weighed in with tips on how marketers can best use links to boost their SEO say the most important aspects are the basics: providing quality content that's relevant to the audience and only linking to quality sites. Those elaborating along with Dover included:
- Steve Beatty, SEO strategist with San Diego, Calif.-based search marketing firm Covario;
- Justin Briggs, SEO Consultant with Seattle-based Internet marketing consultancy Distilled LLC, the U.S. wing of London-based Distilled Ltd.; and
- Mike Gullaksen, vice president of search with Covario.
1. Quality content. Dover says: "Google really likes the idea of links because, generally, humans create them; which means they're—in theory—harder to manipulate. And Google sees links to a given website as votes. So something like [The New York Times] is going to get a lot of votes, a lot of links, because it has valuable content that real human beings are reading and linking to. The same thing goes for any site. And the place where it gets tricky is, once a site gets a lot of links, links that it passes out are worth more than your average blog post. A link from [the Times] is going to be much more helpful for you than a link from Joe Schmoe's blog." (For more on how The New York Times enhanced its SEO rankings, see this SEOmoz video on optimizing topic pages from New York Times Chief Search Strategist Marshall Simmonds,)