The system that governs website ranking is a complex one, dependent upon variety of SEO equity-building factors. One of these said factors is links – outbound and inbound – that give search engines like Google a holistic picture of your website: from its content to its trustworthiness. Indeed, link building is perhaps one of the most difficult and important aspects of SEO marketing, requiring sound strategy, patience, and a deep understanding of the nuances of building link authority for SEO.

Think of links like letters of recommendation for your website. If they come from sources that are highly reputable – such as a well-trafficked publisher – then your website will reap the benefits. In other words, Google rewards a website that is linked to by quality and trustworthy sources; it is an indicator that its content likewise will be quality and trustworthy. Alternatively, inbound links from “spammy” websites can actually tarnish your website’s precious reputation (and ranking), even if you are not an untrustworthy source yourself.  As the old adage goes, “Show me who your friends are and I’ll show you who you are.”

It’s important to note, then, building link authority for SEO cannot be accomplished by brute force. It’s not simply a matter of building up links by any means possible – sheer volume cannot compensate for a healthy strategy. In fact, a “more is more” approach can be highly toxic for your website ranking. That’s because Google is an inherently egalitarian platform that prioritizes websites that are organically favored, trusted, and relied upon by its users. If it detects – either manually or through an algorithm – that your website is engaged in “manipulation” such as like link exchanges (“you promote me, I promote you”) or pay-for-link schemes, Google will penalize you. Period.

Moreover, a solid and successful strategy of building link authority for SEO also takes into account factors like newness, relevancy (including localization), and outbound / internal linking. On the first point, Google favors websites that are constantly being linked to (e.g. newness), as they exhibit ongoing relevancy for its users. A marketer that does not have an evergreen linking strategy, then, will encounter roadblocks as time goes on. Moreover, the context of the link matters. For example, a link to a new restaurant located in Philadelphia from a well-regarded food blogger in Philadelphia is both highly relevant and localized. Yes, the source might not be the biggest website in the world, but in Google’s eyes that doesn’t matter – the all-important context does. Implementing a strategy that takes into this more nuanced aspect of search marketing isn’t always easy, as it requires plenty of research and relationship building. But it is nevertheless incredibly important. Lastly, outbound link building and internal linking is part of this plan. Who you link out to matters, and content should be developed with this influencing factor in mind. Moreover, internal linking across your web pages is vital; when done well, it can help increase your website’s SEO value tremendously.

In short, a good link building strategy focuses less on pure numbers and more on context, quality, and efficacy. Less of “right” links are always better than more of the “wrong” ones, with the real challenge being making that determination.