Are Your Backlinks Chaining You Down?

inbound linksGoogle’s mission is to provide searchers the most relevant search experience. That means that each and every site on the internet is judged and ranked in order of its relevance to a particular search term. Google does this by considering all of the information available about the website, taking into account the information you tell it as well as the information that other people give Google about your site in the form of incoming links.

Inbound Links Help the Search Engines Determine:

  • What your website is about
  • Which keywords are relevant to your site
  • How important your site is
  • Where your site is located

Google will take all of this information into consideration and then, using its infamous algorithm, calculate where it should place your website in the search engine results pages (serps). The position will depend on how relevant your website is deemed to be for the particular search term queried.

What others say really matters

inbound links

On the internet, words are everything and what people write about you is important because those references and citations count to how your website will be determined in the results.

If your website is optimised for “organic beef supplier” but none of the links coming to your site have a thing whatsoever to do with farming, livestock or butchery then the search engines are going to be confused and so will the readers. Even worse, if the incoming links are from sites to do with women’s make-up for example, you might find that your site will rank more highly for “makeup” than for “organic beef supplier”.

Google and the other search engines give great weight to what others say about your site. By relying on what other websites say about your site this helps the search engines provide more relevant searches and better, more qualified results for the searcher.

This is because the search engines take the view that other websites are more likely to be impartial and truthful about your website than you would be. You may think that you are the best organic beef supplier in North England but without the inbound links and citations from a third party site agreeing and confirming that, then the search engines are likely to dismiss the statement.

This is why when you evaluate a website you can find that it ranks very highly for a search term never really mentioned in it. If you then look at the inbound links to the website you will most likely find that it has many relevant sites linking to it using specific keywords as the link anchor text. (link anchor text being the text used on a hyperlink or web site link)

Google relies on what other websites are saying about your website for your off page optimisation. This includes:

  • What anchor text is used
  • The theme of the website linking in
  • The theme of the page the link is on
  • The page rank of the website the link is on.

It is important to remember that not all links are made equal and the only links you want to focus on getting are one way links. This means that a website links to your website but you don’t have to link back. This is the most powerful link and the main one you want to focus your inbound linking strategy on.

Another type of link is known as a Reciprocal link. This is where you link to someone and they link back. Reciprocal links have a few problems:

  • Google knows it’s reciprocated and takes away relevance
  • Sites that harvest a lot of reciprocal links are frowned upon and can be downgraded. This can dramatically affect your site rankings.

You should also ensure you get the most from your links by making sure the anchor text is relevant. For example, instead of having “click here” or your website address you could have your link mixed with other relevant phrases such as “quality organic beef” “buy organic beef”.

Another way to make sure you get the most out of links is to make sure the links you get are from relevant websites as links from irrelevant websites are not worth as much.

Methods for generating relevant inbound links.

1. Write articles that you can post to article directory sites such as Ezinearticles. If the article is good enough it will be picked up by other webmasters who will then publish it on their sites resulting in a link back for you.

2. Get listed in trusted and relevant directories such as dmoz, or consider a paid listing in the Yahoo directory

3. Provide some form of free online giveaway if someone provides you a link

4. Write great fresh relevant content on a regular basis.

5. Create an application or a document that people interested in your topic will like and share providing you with links.

Finally, avoid paying for links. Many businesses offer thousands of backlinks for £x’s. The reason why these deals seem so good is that the links are of little value and the chances are they are not relevant to your site. Each company that signs up to one of these deals will get the same links. Once the search engines notice the pattern they will devalue the links and probably penalise all the websites, including yours, at the same time.

If your business is good at what it does then you will acquire links naturally over time. However, if you want to generate links more quickly then approach web owners with sites relevant to yours and ask them for links. Or simply put together a content marketing strategy where you create great and relevant online content that screams out to be shared, and in the process generates great and valuable inbound links.