Sure, you’ve heard about link building before. But what does that actually mean? For your B2B business, a well-rounded link profile is an essential part of your website’s online visibility. Search engines analyze the links within your website, as well as the links pointing to your website, in order to determine the trust, popularity, and authority of your web pages.

Before implementing a link building strategy, it’s important to understand how search engines evaluate links, which factors are considered, and how these factors influence rankings.

So, which factors does Google consider when evaluating your link profile?

Anchor Text: Anchor text is the clickable (usually blue) text within content that contains a hyperlink to another web page. When other trusted websites link to your page and include a certain keyword in the anchor text, that page will have a better chance of ranking for the term.

Freshness: Unfortunately, it’s not enough to have earned high quality links in the past. Search engines want to see that your site continues to earn new, quality links over time, since this shows that your website is sill popular, relevant, and trustworthy. That’s why a link building strategy should be part of your B2B’s ongoing SEO strategy.

Popularity: Part of link building is, in fact, a popularity contest. Think of a link to your website like a vote for your website. The more external links a website has pointing to it, the more popular it is in the eyes of Google. The more popular a site is, the more weight is placed on the links from that site to other sites. Think of it this way: If a popular kid were to invite you to sit with him at lunch, the other kids would consider you to be more popular than before. The more links your website receives from popular websites, the more popular you will seem to search engines.

Topic-Specific Popularity: Not all links are created equally. So, while more links will make you seem more popular and credible, some links will pass a stronger “vote” for your site than others. This is called topic-specific or local popularity, and is based on the concept that links from sites of the same or similar topic matter more to search engines than links from off-topic websites. When building links for your B2B business, it’s important to consider the topic or industry of your link partners, not just their popularity. Try to earn links from business partners, relevant industry journals, and other businesses that would be considered a part of your topic community.

Trust: Spammy links will have detrimental effects on a website today. It’s important to build a link profile filled with earned links from a variety of quality, trusted websites, since it lets Google know that you can be trusted, too. As a general rule of thumb, .edu, .gov, and .org websites are considered to be highly trustworthy. This same rule applies to websites that you link to within your own content. Whenever possible, link to trusted websites. Why? Typically, a website that links to spam is considered to be spam, as well. Since search engines look at all links, it’s best to choose wisely where you link to and which sites you allow to link to you, not just one or the other.

Once you have a good understanding of how links are evaluated and how they affect rankings, you’re in a better position to create a long-term, effective link building strategy for your B2B company. In the next post of this series, we’ll discuss which link building techniques you should start implementing, and which ones you should leave in the past.