Search engines are democracies. They analyse a variety of signals and inputs, weigh up their various merits and use their findings to understand how they should rank websites.
One of the most important signals is the links that a site has earned from other sites, and an effective way of winning them is through product reviews.
In this post, Fast Web Media explores the linkbuilding landscape.
Why are links important?
Google sees links as ‘votes’. If an authoritative and relevant site ‘votes’ for your site, it's like you're considered more trusted and your site is likely to rank higher.
The best kind of links are those that are won naturally. Ideally, site owners would value your offering enough to link to it without any kind of persuasion.
However, there’s also a process for reaching out to sites, entering into a dialogue with them and requesting a link. This is called linkbuilding (or sometimes authority building) and it’s critical to building your authority.
What is linkbuilding?
Linkbuilding comes in many forms. A strong PR or content marketing campaign can be a form of linkbuilding, for example. It’s all about creating something sites will want to link to.
For retail and eCommerce based businesses, there’s an opportunity to tap into the power of product reviews as a way to win links.
Product reviews for linkbuilding purposes follow a similar process to any other kind of product review process, but with one major difference.
Businesses dispatch samples of their product to a group of selected outlets, and ask for a review and – critically – a link to their site in return.
Top Tips for Linkbuilding
Carefully source websites
Everything begins with research. Start by understanding the kind of sites you want to target, selecting them carefully based on the size and nature of their audience and how they lines up with your own.
Also consider the quality and relevance of the sites. In linkbuilding, it’s not just about the quantity of links, but the quality.
Pull the information into a clearly labelled, well-organised spreadsheet and identify your top targets.
Offer something of value
There's no such thing as a free lunch - or a free link.
The time when people would link to your site without getting anything worthwhile in return is well and truly over.
So when you're reaching out, make sure you're offering something of real value. This could be an expert quote to a publication, a guest post, a news story, an infographic or content piece, or in this case a product for review.
Build a relationship
Linkbuilding isn’t a one-way street. It’s important to remember that you’re asking for a partnership with your target sites, so whatever you’re offering needs to work for them.
When you approach your targets, be engaging, friendly and ensure that you’re showing the site owner the benefits your offering will bring to them and – even more importantly – their audience.
Request a follow link
There are two kinds of links: follow and nofollow. The difference is all in the code. Here’s an example of a follow link:
<a href="http://www.link.com"> Link </a>
And here’s an example of a nofollow link:
<a href="http://www.link.com" rel="nofollow"> Link </a>
Spot the difference? It’s all in that
rel="nofollow". It's just a little but of code, but it makes a big difference. By including this in a link, the site owner is telling search engines not to pass any authority onto the website it's linking to.
A no-follow link can help generate referral traffic, but when it comes to linkbuilding, it’s useless for the site that’s being linked to.
So when you’re reaching out to sites, make sure they’re including a follow link.
In a nutshell
Linkbuilding is a critical discipline for any business that operates online, and product reviews are an effective way to go about doing it.
By evaluating the landscape and approaching target sites with an eye to developing a long-lasting relationship founded on mutual benefits, businesses can build links, generate authority and start climbing the rankings.