Inbound Links (also called External Links and Backlinks) are links from other websites to your website. Having high quality inbound links is an important factor in optimising your website for search engines. But, building links can be difficult. If thinking about linking makes your head hurt, this article will give you a place to start.
Optimising your website helps it appear higher up in search engine results
Three main areas that impact your website’s Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) are:
- How your website is set up
- The keywords you choose to use on your website, where and how you use them
- The number and quality of inbound links to your website.
For point Number 1, lets face it, you pretty much rely on website developer being SEO savvy to help with this. Point Number 2 relates to the words you use in your content and where you use them. This is something that you can control and that you should give due attention to as part of getting your website set up right. These videos give detailed information about researching and using keywords on your website.
In this article we’re focussing on Point Number 3 – Inbound Links.
Inbound Links are an important part of optimising your website
Unless you are a skilled inbound link building specialist, links are the hard yards. They are tough to get and that’s why Google gives you credit for getting them.
According to this interview with Matt Cutts from Google:
Google ranks sites based on popularity. If authoritative sites link to you, you must be good, and therefore you get to the top of the list.
So, given that you probably don’t want to spend all of your precious marketing budget paying people to build links, or spend all day finding linking opportunities, what is the best way to start your link building campaign?
Find out how many inbound links your website currently has (so you’ll know if your efforts are paying off)
Lets start by finding out how many links you already have.
- The Hubspot Website Grader is a free tool that shows how many domains are linking to your website
- For more detailed link reports I subscribe to Majestic SEO
- You can also find out more about your own links and those of your competitors through Market Samurai.
According to Majestic SEO, this Grassroots Internet Strategy website has over 5400 links from 117 different domains.
Our link building strategy is based around quality content
This article gives a good explanation of 10 Link Building Strategies, including the strategy of creating and sharing quality content, which is the one we use for this Grassroots website.
Each week we publish a new article that our readers like you find incredibly valuable!
As well being a way to share our knowledge, when website owners and bloggers think our content will be useful for their readers, they will be encouraged to link to us.
This strategy does work. For example, already in this article I’ve linked to articles from three other websites that expand on the information that I’ve written.
Sharing articles on Facebook, Twitter and other social media helps to spread the word that your content is ready and waiting to be linked to!
As well as writing our own articles, we write “guest blogs” for other websites. Guest blogging gives you access to new members of your target audience, and you can include a link to your website as part of your author bio.
We are also active in some online forums. Find out more about link building via online forums here.
Google Alerts and Google Analytics can help you keep track of new links
To keep track of new links to this website, we have set up Google Alerts for our main keywords like “grassroots internet strategy” and our full names. This means we are sent an email whenever Google detects that one of these keywords has been used somewhere on the internet, which is often the case when someone is linking to you.
You can also look at your Traffic Sources in Google Analytics. If you are getting Referral Traffic from another website, then there must be a link to your website in some way, shape or form (although said links are sometimes very hard when you take the time to go looking for them).
Not all Inbound Links are created equal
Links from high ranking authoritative websites are the best kind. Links that use your target keywords as the linking text are good too.
Hubspot explains more here and this article covers 4 types of inbound links and which are the best ones.
Not all of the links to this website are quality links, and some are “No Follow” which means they aren’t read by search engines.
It’s good to understand the different types of links but for now lets look at how to build them.
Where can you start your link building efforts?
Think about Guest Blogging.
- Identify blogs that have a similar target audience to yours, build a relationship with the blog owner and offer to guest blog.
- Some bloggers will even have information on their site inviting guest blogs.
Think about creating valuable content and then sharing it with the right people.
- Identify who would be interested in linking to your content or maybe even promoting it in their newsletter (which expands your reach and increases your web traffic). Join their Facebook page, follow them on Twitter and start building a relationship.
- Add your article to article sharing websites like www.ezinearticles.com, which lets masses of people know that your content exists.
Because link building is such an important issue for my clients and friends, I started thinking about ways to make it easier for everyone. In the interview with Matt Cutts that I mentioned above, he goes on to say:
If you can’t get top sites such as USATODAY.com or The New York Times to link to you, try your friends.
So start with the people who you know that have a website and look for ways you can creatively help each other build inbound links.
Building inbound links is a huge topic that I’ve hardly even touched on here. A key takeaway message is that they are a critical part of search engine optimisation, so always be on the look out for link building opportunities.
Until next time