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Beginner’s Guide to Link Building: Understanding the Terminology

Rachel Kerr
Beginner’s Guide to Link Building: Understanding the Terminology
Contents

Authoritative link building is the process of achieving links from powerful and trusted websites to your own. A link is a way for users to navigate between pages and websites with ease to find what they are looking for.

Search engines also use links to move around the web and crawl your site. The quality of your links helps inform the ranking process, rewarding your site with good rankings for quality links and bad rankings for not-so-quality links. In the words of Andrey Lipattsev at Google: “Links are one of the three major ranking factors in Google”.

However, link building can feel like confusing territory when you are new to the world of SEO. There is so much technical jargon, it can be hard to know where to start – especially when it seems like everyone else knows what they’re talking about.

We don’t think technical language should scupper your chances of link building success though. So, that’s why we thought we’d arm you with all the terms you need to know to stay ahead of the game.

A-D

Anchor Text

When you place a link into a piece of content, the anchor text refers to the words that include the link to the referenced website. Common CTA (call to action) anchor text includes, ‘click here’, ‘let’s get started’, or ‘sign up today’. Your anchor text should always relate to the page being linked to in some way, hinting to the reader where this link will take them when they click on it. For example, if your anchor text says, ‘call us today’, when a reader clicks on it the link should take them to the contact page.

Anchor Text, Branded

Branded anchor text is easy to remember because it refers to any anchor text that is composed of your website, brand, or business name. For example, Hive19.

Anchor Text, Exact Match

When you’re writing content specifically to rank for certain keywords, exact match anchor text can be very helpful. If you sell parrots in Peru, anchor text such as ‘parrot sellers in Peru’ would be very clear and concise for the viewers and search engines. However, this is one of the most abused tactics for link builders, and is not advisable to go too heavy on this. Including the words around the anchor text is often a safer, more natural way to describe the page being linked – depending on the context.

Exact match anchor text lets the user know exactly what they’re getting when they click on your link. The overuse of exact match anchor text can be penalised by the Google Penguin Algorithm Update. So, try to find a good balance.

Anchor Text, Long Tail

The phrase ‘long tail’ refers to a type of keyword that is longer than a couple of words. Long-tail keywords are often an entire sentence, a question, or a phrase that users might search for. ‘How fish sleep underwater’ is an example of a long-tail keyword. Long-tail keywords are less competitive, so although there is less traffic for the term, you are likely to rank very well for it. So, linking using long-tail anchor text can be an effective way to promote your business online.

AIt Attributes

Alt attributes are written descriptions used to describe an image. This is helpful for visually impaired users, for when pages are slow loading and for search engines to gain as much insight into your content and its intention.

Algorithm Updates

Algorithm updates alert you to the fact something has changed in the way Google looks at websites. Google is known for a long history of algorithm updates and search index changes that often change the ranking order of websites. It is understood Google is always tweaking the algorithms, but a few major updates include: Panda (2011), Penguin (2012), Google BERT refresh (2020), and Core Web Vitals (May 2021).

Authority

Authority in the world of link building refers to how trustworthy or popular a website is. The BBC, for example, is an extremely trustworthy and popular website.
Ahref screenshot (BBC)
Gaining multiple high authority links to your website is a great way to build your own online reputation, encouraging customer loyalty, and building your brand. Although not an exact correlation, the websites that rank higher in the SERPs on average tend to be the most authoritative.

Author Rank

Author Rank is the value assigned to a document based solely upon the reputation of its author. Author Rank changes the way content ranks online and the amount of value it can pass on to other pages.

Author bio, aaron thomas, MD at Hive19

Backlink Profile

Backlink profile is a term used to describe a record of all the links coming from other sources to your site. Your backlink profile records all these links so you can periodically review them and monitor the types of links being sent to your site. A healthy backlink profile includes many high-authority backlinks that are providing value to your site, increasing your online authority, and building your rankings.

Brand Mentions

If your brand is mentioned on another website or social media channel, with or without a link, this is a brand mention.
Brand mentions are essentially a form of brand visibility, increasing the presence of your website online, which in time will increase the authority and trust of the brand.

Broken Links

A broken link points to a page or resource that no longer exists. These should be monitored regularly and updated with the publishing website, or redirected at your end if the page is driving any traffic.

404 page

Cached Page

A cached page is a snapshot of a document or webpage taken at a point in time, that is stored on the search engine servers.

Content

Content is an easy one; it refers to everything we search for and consume online, from blog posts and news articles to infographics and videos.

Content Marketing

Content marketing is the process of using high-quality content to promote your brand or website online. Content marketing covers everything from guest posts, articles, and white papers, through to educational videos, infographics, and newsletters. Content marketing is one of the most affordable and effective ways to promote your website online – and it’s also a great way to build links!

Competitive Analysis

Competitive analysis is looking at one site in relation to its competitors. Link building often involves competitive analysis as monitoring competitors’ sites can help marketers identify links that other sites have but their site does not, giving them a list of links to pursue or outreach for.

Citations

Citations are mentions of your business information, such as a name or telephone number. While citations aren’t typically linked, they help with trust signals to your business or client, increasing the potential for higher rankings.

Citation Flow

Citation flow is a metric invented by Majestic. Citation flow is a value between 0-100 to predict how influential a domain might be based on the numbers of sites that link to it.

Citation Flow - Majestic SEO

Crawlability

Crawlability refers to how effectively search engines can access and crawl your site and follow the links.

Deep Links

Deep links refer to links on your website or third party sites that point to pages other than the homepage.

Deindexed

Deindexed is a term referring to a site being removed from the search engine index, usually because it has violated the official guidelines.

Directories

Directories are websites that list companies by industry or location. These are useful for users who might be trying to find ‘Plumbers in Brighton’, but as they often provide a link to the website listed – they are also used as a link building tactic. It is important therefore to understand the trustworthiness of these sites, as some lists are spammy and provide no real value.

It is important to check the trustworthiness of these sites and some lists are spammy and provide no real value.

HIve19 Clutch

Disavow

Disavow is a term that involves telling Google that you don’t want link(s) associated to your site. Very often this is a result of spam that has no relevance or reason to link to your website. These low-quality links have the potential to result in a manual action for your domain. You can create a list of links to disavow and upload them through Google Search Console.

Domain Authority

Domain authority is a system of measurement that is used to find out how authoritative a website is. Many link builders consider the domain authority of a website before reaching out for links, as gaining links from high authority websites is extremely beneficial. However, while domain authority is important, it is not the only important metric and therefore should not be the only thing a website is judged by.

Domain Rating

Domain rating is an Ahrefs metric that indicates the strength of your website’s link profile. The more links you have that are high-quality, the better your domain rating.

Duplicate Content

Duplicate content signals to Google that content is undesirable. Duplicate content means that the content already exists elsewhere online, and is being duplicated or plagiarised in some form. If it is on your own website, it is highly advisable to have just one version and use a canonical tag on the original, or simply rewrite the new text.

If the content exists on a third party website, it is not advisable to publish on your website as it will be of little value to you, especially without a reference link to the original source. Duplicate content can seriously harm your website rankings, so it is essential content on your website is unique.

E-H

Editorial Links

An editorial link refers to when a website gives you a link without you first having to request it.

Evergreen Content

Evergreen content refers to content that does not go out of date easily. For example, content not considered news and with tips that are unlikely to change. ’10 tips to deep clean your oven’ or ‘The best UK beaches for dog walkers’. These types of posts can be updated to add in new tips, but the piece is considered complete without them and is highly unlikely to ever become obsolete.

Google

Google is the most popular search engine in the world. Google gives us answers at our fingertips. Google has dominated the search engine market, maintaining an 92.05 percent market share as of February 2021:
Google graph from Statista
Source: Statista

Google Webmaster Guidelines

The guidelines set by Google as best practice for how to run, maintain and update your website. These rules are intended to underpin SEO, and users found to be violating these terms can have the offending website penalised or even deindexed.

Guest Posts

Guest posts are articles you provide to a third party website, for them to publish on their site. Typically, the writer includes a link they desire within the post, which then provides value for both parties.

Href

Href (Hypertext REFerence) is the HTML code used to create a link to another page. It is an attribute of the anchor tag for links, and it contains the link’s destination URL.

HTTP Status Code

When a page is loaded, the HTTP (Hypertext Transfer Protocol) status code is the code that is returned to the search engine or web browser.

I-L

Internal Links

Internal links are links from one page on your website to another page on your website. Internal links are critical for effective navigation of your website and crawlability

Infographics

Infographics are a popular form of content that involves the combination of both images and text in a single format.

IP Addresses

An IP (Internet Protocol) address is a series of numbers that identifies a computer. IP addresses are often tracked and recorded in software like Google Analytics to monitor the visitors on your website.

Keywords

A keyword is a word or phrase often used to describe your service or product offering that features throughout your website.

Optimising your website for high-quality, relevant keywords that match potential customer’s search queries will increase the likelihood of them finding your business and becoming a customer.

Linkable Asset

A linkable asset is a piece of content on your site that offers value – the kind other sites might want to link to. Informative blog posts and research papers are linkable assets as they offer value, are a great source of information for other websites to link to, and go into detail about a topic. If you want to create a linkable asset, you need to write like you are an authority on your topic. If you come across as an authority through your valuable content, people will want to link to you.

Link Juice

Link juice is a trendy term that refers to the intangible, arguably completely made-up power that is passed from one site to another via a hyperlink. This point relates to our point above on domain authority, as in theory the better the website the more link juice your site will receive.

Link Reclamation

Link reclamation is the process of claiming links to your website that didn’t previously exist. This may be turning a brand mention into a hyperlink, updating a broken link or having a dropped page reinstated in order to keep the hyperlink active.

Link Schemes

Link schemes are part of Google’s guideline violations and should not be partaken.

M-P

Niche

Niche sounds like a fancy cuisine but really, it’s just a hyped-up way of talking about your specific industry. If you are just starting out as a blogger, the main piece of advice you’ll be given is to ‘find your niche’. If you’re a green thumb, gardening is your niche. If you sell pocket watches, vintage accessories are your niche. See how it works? It is great to have a niche or something you specialise in as it helps people consider you as an authority in your field.

No-follow Link

A no-follow link is a hyperlink that has the code “rel=nofollow” in its HTML. A no-follow link tells the search engine not to pass on any authority or ‘link juice’ to the linked website. These are commonly used when a site doesn’t implicitly trust another site, or has thousands of links out (such as with directories). It is not unusual to discover a variety of no-follow links in your website’s backlink profile.

Off-Page SEO

Off-Page SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) refers to authority building away from your own website. Link building, citations and brand mentions for instance, as opposed to updating content on your own website.

On-Page SEO

On-Page SEO includes anything that is carried out on the site to improve its position in the search engine results.

On-Page Optimisation

On-page optimisation refers to everything you do behind the scenes to help the search engines find, crawl, and rank your website. On-page optimisation includes everything from SEO content, URLs, and meta descriptions, through to site speed, navigation, display, and title tags.

Organic Search

Organic search is website content that is found in the search results without paid advertising. If you type something into Google and skip past the ads to click on an actual website, you have arrived at that site via organic search. These are the website considered most relevant by the search engine for the term you typed.

Outreach

Outreach is the, often painful, process of emailing target websites and asking for links. It often means you’re on the receiving end of a lot of rejection. So, effective outreach has to be well planned, polite, concise, and valuable. When carried out effectively, outreach is a great way to build invaluable connections online, gain links to your website, and promote your business.

Page Authority

Page authority is a metric that was created by Moz. Page authority predicts how well a page will rank in Google.

PageRank

PageRank is a part of Google’s algorithm, named after the co-founder of Google Larry Page, used to measure the value of a page or domain compared to other websites on the web. It was retired as an explicit metric in 2016, with the removal of the Toolbar PageRank, but is still believed to be used as part of the many ranking factors in Google’s algorithm.

Paid Links

Paid links violate Google’s guidelines. Paid links are links gained in exchange for money.

PBNs

PBNs (Private Blog Networks) are a group of websites used and owned solely for the use of abusing or selling backlinks. These sites tend to publish low quality content and likely link out to thousands of unrelated websites – and should be avoided.

Q-T

Reciprocal Links

Reciprocal Links are often referred to as link exchanges and involve site A linking to site B and site B linking back to site A. There are many reasons sites might link to each other, but it has been an abused tactic of ‘I’ll give you a link in exchange for a link from you’ kind of deal.

Relevance

Relevance is about building links to your website that are relevant and make sense. If you own a website that sells plumbing equipment, for example, it wouldn’t be all that relevant to have a link from a website selling computer games. You want links from tradesmen themed websites, or home improvement sites as these are relevant to your industry. Relevant links are proven to be hugely beneficial for improved rankings, so don’t opt for irrelevant links – as they can harm your website’s rankings, reputation, and authority.

Search Algorithm

A search algorithm is the magic formula search engines use to find, rank and display the content most useful to you based on your search term. The search algorithm considers information such as location, user intent, website authority, and site loading speed amongst many, many more factors to provide the best results.

Search Intent and Volume

Search intent is what the user had in mind when searching a term in Google. Whereas search volume refers to how many times that search term has been searched for in any given period of time.

Search Operators

Search operators are words or symbols used to narrow down a search, such as inurl:hive19. There are many different commands which help to utilise the search engine’s potential results.

SERPs

SERPs stands for Search Engine Results Pages. These are the pages you see when you type something into the search engines.

SEO

This is a huge term in the online world. It refers to Search Engine Optimisation and is one of the best ways you can connect your website with the people you are looking for it. SEO makes your website the best it can be so that it can rank well in Google and be found by the people you want to reach. If you want your website to be found online, SEO is key.

Target Website

A target website is any website you want to gain a link from. If you want a link to your website from the BBC, for example, the BBC are a target website and should become one of the subjects of your outreach. Then, if all goes well, you might build a high-authority link!

Traffic

Traffic refers to how many people visit your website in a given period. More specifically, search traffic refers to how many people visit your website directly from the search engines.

Toxic Links

Toxic links are links that have the potential to harm your website.

Final Thoughts…

Phew! That is a long list of technical words. But don’t worry, you will pick them up fast.

The great thing about link building jargon is that anyone can learn it and put it into practice. And if there are any terms we didn’t cover that you think would be helpful, please feel free to let us know in the comments or by contacting us.

Rachel Kerr
Content Writer
Rachel is an experienced SEO copywriter. With a Master of Arts degree in Creative Writing, Rachel can seamlessly craft her writing to suit any audience, helping clients connect with the people they want to. Having worked for print and digital, she knows what it takes to write content that sells. Rachel's content doesn't just connect with her readers, it also extends into SEO strategy, driving traffic and conversions, and providing value for the client.

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