Links between websites are a fundamental part of the web. In fact links are what makes the web a web.
How your website is linked, what sites link to it and what
sites it links to is important from a search engine perspective, and a traffic perspective.
As part of your site development you will need to create links to other websites (outgoing links) and have other websites create links to you (incoming links)
The Importance of Links To Your Site
Links from other sites to your site are a critical part of the search engine algorithm for determining the importance of a page/site.
It is fair to say that without any incoming links your site/pages will not
rank or rank badly at the search engines.
In addition, search engines find your site by following links to your site from other sites that the search engines already know about.-
Although there are other ways of adding your site to the search engine index the best way is to get a link from an existing site that is already indexed. – See getting indexed
Creating Links to Other Sites
However outbound links can be an important part of improving
the ranking of a page, especially when they link to an authority site e.g. Wikipedia
As an example a page on html coding should logically link to html reference pages where the reader can find more information.
Good safe sites to link to are Wikipedia and any standard body/government sites.
The only thing to be careful of is that you only link to quality sites.
My rough guideline is that if I find that the site contains good information that I think enhances what I have to offer the visitor then I will link to it.
If you look at any technical literature then at the bottom it contains citations detailing where the author sourced some of the ideas/content etc, and so a web page that does the same is more valuable to the reader than one that doesn’t.
Building Links To Your Website
There are two types of link that you can get to your site:
One-Way Inbound Links
The best type of links to get are simple one way inbound links.
These are obtained by other website owners linking to you because you are considered an authority in a particular field or the article/web page is particularly relevant.
These type of links will come if you produce high quality web pages, but they come slowly.
The other way of getting simple inbound links is from directories.
Most, but not all, directories will list your website without requiring you to link to them.
Getting links from directories should be the first stage of
your link building program,and for small local websites then links from directories like Yell,Yelp,Hotfrog etc are usually all that you will need.
Paid Directories and Paid Links
I receive many emails offering link building services, and you see many ads on the web for such services, and for paid links.
I personally would avoid these services, and would never buy links.
However some directories like Yahoo also charge for a listing which is in effect a paid link, so how does Google treat this?
Here are some useful videos from Google on
Reciprocal Links and Link Exchange
Link Exchange was once a very popular activity, but has lost favour over the last few years (since around 2007) due to the way these links are treated by the search engines.
I personally no longer actively search for link exchange partners,
and no longer do any link exchange.
However exchanging links with other websites can be of benefit especially in the initial stages of site development.
However you don’t need 100s of links but a few good relevant links.
Examples of Good links are:
- links from relevant authority sites
- links from relevant complementary sites
- links from customer/supplier sites
Linking and Traffic
Most site owners build links purely from an SEO perspective
but you should also bear in mind that some links can bring lots
of traffic, or very targeted traffic, so don’t just build links purely for SEO purposes.
As an example if you are a window cleaner offering a window
cleaning service then a link from one of your suppliers e.g.
window cleaning equipment supplier is a relevant site, but a
link from the local hair dressing site is not so relevant.
However although the hair dressing link may not count very
much in the search engines, it may bring you lots of good
Links are very important and you should not only have links
to your site, but you should be linking to relevant good quality
Your site links will have either a positive or negative impact on your search engine ranking.
Incoming links are good, and some are better than others from a search engine point of view, and some are better than others at bringing traffic.
Since Google Penguin links from low quality sites can even be damaging so you need to be careful if you engage on a link building campaign.
- History on Google bombing and the Google reaction including how to create your own at Wikipedia.
- Interesting video from Google on how Google assess a page with no or very few links
- Moz beginners guide to link building