Posted by Sam Battin, Senior Search Specialist (Natural Search)
Building strong incoming links to your Web site is one of the best ways to gain high search rankings. Search engine algorithms heavily weigh incoming links as “votes” that a certain page is relevant to a certain topic or keyword. The links that are most valuable for your site will come from sites that are popular themselves (have a high PageRank) and contain information that is topically similar to your site. For instance, if you have a site that sells baseball memorabilia, a link from a site such as MLB.com would be very beneficial in terms of helping your search engine ranking, as well as directly driving qualified traffic.
Link anchor text is also extremely important. A link that has anchor text that contains a targeted keyword has a much better chance of helping improve rankings for that keyword. Essentially, search engines see the anchor text of a link as a brief summary of the next page. For example, a link anchor text that reads “Natural Search Optimization” tells search engines that the next page contains information about NSO. In contrast, a link that reads "Click here for Natural Search Optimization” does not present useful information to search engines because the words “Click here” appear in link anchor text millions of times all over the Internet.
Whether links are set up for search engine spiders to “follow” or “no follow” is also important when thinking about building incoming links. Web sites like Wikipedia, as well as many blog comment fields, add “rel=nofollow” attributes to certain hyperlinks, which instructs search engines not to pass link value to the destination of the link. The “rel=nofollow” attribute can be used to identify your site’s most important pages to search engines and ensure that these pages retain the maximum value from their links.