You click on links every time you go on the internet. When search engines read the clicks that take you from one website to another, they store that information away in their mathematical brains (called algorithms.) When it’s time to determine which websites make it to the top of the search engine pile, the sites that have links that get more clicks tend to get better positioning than those that get fewer. 

Clicks come from lots of places:

  • Enter a web address into a search bar. Click.
  • Review a list of websites that pop up from a search. Pick one. Click.
  • Read a blog post with a link to information you want to check out. Click.
  • Find a Facebook post with an interesting video from a company you follow. Click.
  • Shop on a website and come across a link to an independent product review you want to read. Click.

To search engines, all those clicks between sites translate into popularity. When search engine spiders find sites pointing to sites, and transmit that information to search engines, the algorithms give credit to both sides. Warning, link-stuffers: the algorithms can also tell if the content of the information being linked is relevant to both sites and issue hefty penalties that can trash site ranking if it’s not.

To the search engines, links have become just as important as keywords. Keywords and links account for 80% of the criteria used by search engines to determine a site’s popularity. If appearing at the top of organic search results is important to your business, a good link strategy helps your website get there.

Bring Link Love to Your Website

Links are a good thing. Search engines have done us a big favor by emphasizing the importance of links. Links give us the choice of reading more about the subject of our search or getting the information we came for and moving on. Links also put information in front of us that we may not have known we wanted.

If you don’t have a strategy to build links between your website (or your blog site or your landing pages, or your articles or anywhere else you promote your business on the Web) and the places where your customers are, you’re losing a lot of traffic.

If You’re Ready to Build Some Links

Link building is a process. It’ll take time to learn the basics, and create the right plan for your business and your web site. A comprehensive linking strategy is complicated stuff. You can pay a good SEO specialist to do it for you, but if you’re a doer, on a tight budget or want to get the basics down, start with some simple link-building activities on your own:

  • Visit the sites that you like, and look at their link-building strategies. Don’t worry about the industry or whether they’re commercial sites. Focus on the links. Where do they go? Are they relevant to the company’s business? Where are they on the website? Are they simple to follow? Can you easily get back to where you started? Links are meant to improve the quality of visits not make viewers cranky.
  • If your customers have websites or blogs, ask them to link to you. Do the same for them. Add testimonials. Help each other out.
  • Check out your competitors’ links. Some of the same will probably help your business.

Checking into link building isn’t a one-shot deal. Just like you have to keep your content fresh, your links need the same updating. Periodically test your links to make sure they still lead to live pages with relevant information. Search algorithms also measure the age of your links. You can’t set them and forget them, and keep a good position.

We’ve got a lot more to say about links, so we’re going to keep this conversation going. We’ll get into more about the types of links, the ones search engines like, and why they like them in “Lessons in Link Building, Part 2: Google’s Game, Google’s Rules.”