Getting other site owners to link to your Web site is one of the best ways to improve your search rankings. Researching the best places to get links, and convincing the site owners to add them can be a time-intensive task. While I don’t suggest you take link building to the extreme, I cannot stress strongly enough its importance. For your time and efforts to be properly rewarded, you need for the links to be created in the most beneficial way possible.
When other sites link to yours, it’s important that they link to more than just your home page. Google and the other engines interpret links to your home page as “courtesy links”, something you do to show respect to another site or its owner, but not really a strong recommendation of content. These links are good, but not great. For best results, links should point to content inside your site – and not all to the same place. Links to posts inside your site tell the search engines that you create good quantities of relevant content. Search engines consider these deep links to be votes of confidence, recommendations of expertise.
Anchor text is the text that is used as the link (or the alt text in the case of images). Anchor text gives readers some indication what to expect on the destination page if they click the link. Search engines, especially Google consider this to be of the utmost importance. How important you ask. Consider this; If you do a Google search for the phrase “VP of Internet Strategy“, my web site is ranked number one. You might think that would take a huge number of links. Nope, there are only 11 [OK, so now there are 12 ;-D], but those links all use that very specific phrase. Want your site to rank very well, very quickly? Identify what phrase you want to rank for and get several links for that phrase from sites around the country. Of course, the more competition there is for that phrase, the more links you will need.
When you post a comment on another blog – which you had better be doing frequently – always enter your web address when it’s an option. Whenever possible, link to a post within your site that is somehow related to the post you are commenting on and not just to your home page. It is true that many blogs use “no-follow” links for their comments. However, many SEOs have found that Google defines “no-follow” to mean many different things – the least of which is “don’t follow the link”. The amount of value these links pass, if any, is debatable – but Google DOES follow them. Forgetting the engines for a moment, if your comment is a good one you may entice another reader to click back to your site, and that’s what you are after anyway.
In almost all cases, paid links are NOT a good idea. However, there are a few fuzzy areas that are generally acceptable. Links to your site from an obvious directory of businesses, even if you had to pay to be included in the directory are usually OK. However, if you pay someone to link to your site from a non-directory, and it is discovered, it could have severe effects on your search listings. Specific effects vary on the links and the mood of the spam person at Google that finds it.
It’s important to note that Google knows the difference between the various parts of a site and assigns different values to links depending on where they are located. Links located within the body of a post have much greater strength than those of a “blog roll”, footer or worst of all a long list of “related links”.
When you write a post for your site, is it the end-all, beat-all post that never needs any additional information? I’ll venture to guess that no, it is not. Your readers know this, so do the search engines. Internal linking allows you to highlight your breadth of knowledge. Having related posts on your site shows both your readers and the search engines that you are an expert. Be sure to link to them from within content whenever possible.
Hopefully this helps you to understand a little better how important back links are. Now, go ahead and get started by leaving a comment…and including a nice link back to your site ;-D