Link-building: site trust, page relevancy, link position, anchor text

published on July 2, 2010 in SEO & PPC

Accountant link building 101: what you need to know

Although this article is aimed specifically at accountants, the principles below apply to any website.

Incoming links, also called inbound links or backlinks, are links from other websites to yours. They are currently the main “off-page” (external to your site) ranking factor used by search engines such as Google and Bing when they rank a website on their results pages. Put simply,

The more links your website has coming from external, relevant and trusted websites, the better your rankings will be.

Trust, relevancy and link position are the factors search engines are giving more and more importance to, and the anchor text is still an old favourite. Here is a bit more about each of them.

Trust or Authority

Trust, also sometimes referred to as a website “authority”, is an intangible value that search engines (and in particular Google) give to a website. The “trust” is gauged by taking into account the history of the site, the number of sites that links to it and their own “trust/authority” factor.

Let’s take the ICAEW website for example: the Institute of Chartered Accountants website receives links (over 34,000) from many resources including the BBC News website, Wikipedia and Companies House. These sites are well established, with thousands of pages and thousands (millions in the BBC and Wikipedia’s case) of other sites linking to them. They are “trusted” because perceived as important, a “hub” for many other sites.

Additionally, websites from recognised academic or governmental bodies (Companies House) have another layer of “trust” attached to them because of the “official” status of their domain names (.ac.uk and .gov.uk can only be obtained by academic or governmental entities).

Relevancy

The relevancy of a link is often assessed on a page level (although it is better to be both page and site relevant).

For accountants, the relevancy can be a page discussing tax or setting up a business, but also local pages discussing events in an area covered by the accountant.

Let’s take the ICAEW site again. Most of the websites linking to it are accountancy related : either accountancy practices or accounting software vendors. And when the BBC links to the ICAEW site, it is from a page about finance and the recession. These are very relevant to what the ICAEW is about and are the best links to get.

Location of the links on the page

The location of the link on the page is pretty self explanatory: where is the link? Is it in the footer, in a sidebar or in the main body of the text. The last one being the best.

The location of the link is important because footer links tend to be carried over the entire website and Google – through Matt Cutts – have said in this video that they may disregard some of the value for these types of links. Editorial links (links within the main body) are a lot harder to “fake” hence their greater “value”.

Going back on the ICAEW website, most links to their website will be in footers and sidebars (accountants mentioning being a member of the Institute alongside their other memberships or copyright notices), so they may not be the best example of optimised links in terms of SEO.

Anchor text

The anchor text is the link itself (the – usually – underlined text). This is where webmasters need to pay special attention when they get links. Avoiding the “click here” and “read more”, and adding keywords to the anchor. For example the “in this video” above is a bad achor. A better anchor would have been “links in footer are treated differently“. For accountants, their services and town/city is usually a good combination.

Talking about the Institute for the last time, most of their links are either images or on their name ICAEW but their main target keyword probably is their name, unlike accountants who may want to appear for their services or “Accountant in …”.

Things I haven’t talked about

Trust, relevancy, position and anchor text are 4 non-technical variables. For people who are involved in link-building there are other ones they tend to also consider. These are: surrounding text, site and page PageRank ™, whether the link is dofollow or nofollow, the number of links on the page, the position of the page in the search engines, the last cache date… they will all be covered in a forthcoming article.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Ryan from Elk lighting July 4, 2010 at 5:40 pm

These are all great points. One other thing that will help in you link building is to try to get links from high page rank. A couple high page rank links are better then 100′s of 0 page rank links.

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netaccountant July 5, 2010 at 12:00 pm

@Ryan, I agree, although concentrating on PageRank may not be the best thing to do as : 1. the PageRank shown in toolbar is a snapshot up to 3 month old (roughly) ; 2. all the sites started @ 0 so you never know if one’s going to be PR5 or 6 at the next update :)

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Neil from Cardiff Accountants July 4, 2010 at 9:31 pm

Again, another great article. Do you know sites to get good backlinks for accountants?

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netaccountant July 5, 2010 at 11:51 am

Hi Neil,

I’d say look for Cardiff blogs if that’s the keywords you target, otherwise head for the Dofollow blog list over @ Growmap.

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Julia from Fast Blog Finder July 5, 2010 at 10:54 am

Thank you for great link building tips. Link building process should be well thought. Not all the sites are worth to get links from. Links from bad sites will most likely hurt the website’s reputation. It’s important to have the keywords in the anchor text when building links. And it’s more important to vary the anchor text from link to link. Firstly, this helps rank the website for different keyword phrases and secondly, this will make the links look natural in the “eyes” of search engines. Better if you vary your anchor text in a 60%/30%/10% manner: if 60% of your link titles contain your primary keywords, 30% contain your secondary set of keywords and 10% a third set of keywords.

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netaccountant July 5, 2010 at 11:48 am

Hi Julia,

Yes anchor variation is vital to give your link profile a “natural look”. I’d even say, when you start getting links, get 1 in 2 for your domain name until you have a strong enough “base”.

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aime from jonline printing services July 7, 2010 at 1:18 am

You’ve got it right, Trust and Website Authority is the number one factor to consider in link building task. As the Google spider tends to favor the site that have a high trust rating. And also as you said the relevancy of the page can make your site climb higher if mostly of the sites that link to you is also relevant to your page. Thanks for the informative post.

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Curtis from headache racks August 10, 2010 at 10:18 pm

I especially like the free Open Site Explorer tool provided by seomoz to determine the potential value of a link.

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Paven from SEO Services November 27, 2010 at 9:47 am

Indeed some good points. Not just anchor variation but link diversity also has great role in building site’s authority. My own experience says that when you point links from various nature, you can see your site in top results quickly compared to same amount of links with single strategy.

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netaccountant January 28, 2011 at 4:44 pm

Thanks for sharing this info Paven, link diversity – as it would happen naturally – is indeed a great way to ensure steady and continuous website traffic growth and increasing search engine rankings.

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Martin from financial advisors cardiff December 2, 2010 at 6:42 am

Why is it that most accountants and independent financial advisers just haven’t got a clue about this? (and worse still, won’t outsource it to people who do understand!) The mind boggles!

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netaccountant January 28, 2011 at 4:46 pm

well Martin, apparently not all of them if you are one… IFA that is ;)

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