SES NY | The Basics of Link Building

By Lauren Kade | Mar 23, 2011
More Articles by Lauren

My last session at the first day of SES NY was “The Basics of Link Building” with Debra Mastaler, President of Alliance-Link.  It promised to teach me all I need to know about link building and why it’s so important — and it delivered.  The description specifically denoted that the session would explain how to build links in an “appropriate manner”, which alluded to the certain black-hat practices that have been in the news lately.  SES New York is also sponsoring an open mic unconferenced session on black hat vs. white hat practices that I’m excited to attend later this week.

But now to the topic at hand – link building!  You can buy, sell, and give away links, and they have tremendous value on search engine rankings.

Concept of Link Popularity

  • measures the quality and quantity of links pointing to a webpage
  • all major engines use it

What goes into it?  Quality, quantity, relevance, and anchor text.  Anchors using keywords provide additional weight and carry semantic value.  So ultimately you want to secure:

  • a large number of links
  • on quality pages
  • with keyword rich anchors
  • that are thematically related (relevant)

Influencing Factors

What could throw up red flags (so avoid these practices):

  • acquiring a lot of links quickly
  • using the same anchor text over and over
  • linking to the same page over and over


  • Build links to internal pages (not just the home page!)
  • screen partner sites carefully
  • place links in content areas (avoid navigation and sponsored areas)
  • understand that all links have value


Educate yourself!  Read blogs like Search Engine Watch, Search Engine Land, SEO Book, etc. and keep up with industry news.

Free Tools:

Paid Tools:

Link Building Tactics


Search backlinks of competing companies who show in the top listings for a relevant keyword in order to get leads.  Ask Wikipedia to include you in their “References” and “External Links” sections.  Or if you find a broken link, email them asking to replace the broken link.  Also, find people with authority in the category already, like top reviewers on Amazon (many of them have blogs) or the category guides on  Share videos with local news channels who need video to play on the weekends.  Additionally, create a news area on your website and become a source of news for Google News.


  • directory submissions
  • chamber of commerce
  • associations
  • niche directories

Content Development:

Use trusted sources such as the local government.  Use relevant sources and promote them every time you write a piece of content on Twitter, Facebook, anywhere you can think of!  Examples of relevant sources:

  • guest blogging
  • article marketing
  • newspaper and magazine writing

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