Building External Links
In the best of worlds, everyone would recognize the brilliance of your website’s content, or the perfection of you product, or the attention to detail of your service… In the best of worlds, everyone would want to send you traffic simply because you are a wonderful person. In the best of worlds, in other words, everyone would link to you, and you wouldn’t need to read this page.
Reality check: You have to work to get people to link to you.
The Purpose of External Links: Traffic
Building external linking is done in order to attract traffic to your website. Without the links, the only people who would visit your site, aside from you and your employees would be your family members a few close friends who would go once out of a sense of obligation. (And your kid will probably just tell you he visited when, in fact, he was watching a YouTube video.)
Traffic can come from links in two ways: 1) directly by people who click the link on another site and land on a page in your site and 2) by increasing that page’s importance in a search engine algorithm and thereby bringing you visitors who find you in a search.
The best way to obtain a link from another website is to earn it–as the old Smith-Barney commercial claimed they earned clients. You need to have a site that is worth visiting, so valuable that other people will want to send you their own traffic. Think about it; that takes a lot of love! Imagine saying to a customer in your store, “Hey, you ought to check out what the store next door is offering.”
While we’re waiting for others to accidentally notice our website and find it positively irresistable, most of us actively work to obtain links. Here are some of the major ways we go about it:
Submit to Web Directories:
Back in the old days (in Internet terms the old days can be as recently as last month, but I mean maybe 2007) links from directories could be very helpful. Now submitting to most directories carries relatively little weight in the search engine algorithms and often doesn’t mean very much in terms of getting traffic directly either. However, a few directories still are important to the search engines and still bring a great deal of direct traffic, as well.
Article markteing can be a very efficient way to obtain a number of links very quickly. Using article directories or a similar content distribution service is especially useful because of their “viral” nature. If you submit a very valuable article to a high traffic article directory, other sites will pick up that article (including your embedded link and publish it on their sites).
When you purchase any link, think of it in the same way that you would think of purchasing advertising. A paid link, properly placed, can bring you highly targeted traffic, but it will not necessarily make any contribution to your search engine rankings. Search engines make an effort to discover paid links and avoid counting them within their algorithm.
Disclaimer: I have never purchased a link, but I recognize the potential benefit as comparatively inexpensive advertising.
You can join into linking agreements with other webmasters. Often, these are reciprocal agreements in which you agree to link to site A if site A puts a link back to you. Reciprocal links can carry the benefit of direct traffic, but they have relatively little impact upon your search engine rankings. You must always be careful that you link only to quality sites.
Another kind of agreement is a three way link. If you reach an agreement with another webmaster that your site 1 will have a link to his site A, and, in return, his site A will have a link to your site 2. The search engine algorithms are written in a way that they attempt to notice these agreements. If they do notice them, they treat these as if they are the less valuable reciprocal links.
Link baiting sounds evil, but in fact it’s the way that the Internet is supposed to work ideally. You simply create irresistable content so that webmasters consider it a service to their visitors to link to your content.
This is what you are really working toward, I hope. We use the other methods so that others can find us so that they learn that they actually want to link to us.
Then our world really does become the best world possible!