A link to a web page is a popularity vote for the page. It demonstrates to a search engine spider that someone finds value in the information found on the web page. A link to a web page is called an inbound link or a backlink. Links contain inheritance factors that influence a web page’s ability to rank well. The inheritance factors include the keyword theme for the linking page, which ideally needs to match the keyword themes for the receiving page. This reinforces the theme for that page. Other factors include Google’s PageRank, which is a pseudo-measure of the quality of links leading to the linking page.
There are a number of inheritance factors that Google and other search engines use in their ranking algorithms, most of which they do not divulge. These are not trivial issues. Search engines keep track of every link leading to every web page on the Internet. The number of links leading to your website and your web pages can play a major role in the website’s ability to rank well, and the quality of each link can have a significant impact.
Here are my observations regarding the effectiveness of inbound links.
- The best inbound link is always a one-way natural link from an authority website or leader in your industry. If you are in the computer industry, this usually means a link from major manufacturers in your industry, or a website that is a central source for industry-related information.
- The second best inbound link is a one-way natural link from another website focused on your industry. This is a link from a page that shares the keyword theme for your website.
- The next best link is a casual natural link to your website from a website not related to your industry.
That being said, obtaining quality links to a web page can be one of the hardest aspects of search engine optimization. If there are other websites in your industry or websites that share your website’s keyword themes that you can obtain links from, those links will help improve the rankings for your web pages. 5 to 10 links to the page can have a very positive impact on that page’s ability to rank well.
Do not just focus on links to the home page. A page that focuses on How to Housebreak a Puppy, should ideally have links to it from similar web pages. Try to obtain as many links as you can to inner pages. One way to do this is to write unique, quality content. Good, informational content that covers topics that people search for will pick up links naturally, especially if the page begins to rank well. The higher a page ranks on search engine result pages, the more inbound links it tends to to pick up–but only if the content on the page is informative or interesting.
Beware of Artificial Links
Search engines do not like artificial links because they see them as a method for manipulating a website’s rankings. Technically speaking, an artificial link is any link set up by a website owner that is used to improve search engines. The solution is to make sue that a website’s inbound links do not look artificial. This means focusing on obtaining natural links.
Some links are more valuable than others, and some links are more detrimental than others. In excessive numbers, some types of links can do more harm than good. Avoid excessive use of links from web directories, link pages (also called link farms) on other websites and reciprocal linking. Each of these types of links has been devalued. Avoid links to pages from web page footers, because they are easily identifiable as artificial links, especially when they come from an unrelated website.
Most new website owners think that links exchanges, also called reciprocal links, are a good thing. They were in the 1990s, but have since been devalued because they are artificial links and are easily identified by search engine spiders. To make matters worse, the overwhelming number of websites that request a link exchange with your website are doing this fraudulently and never actually provide a spiderable link back to your website. There are simple recommendations for dealing with link requests. It is wise to ignore almost all of these requests.
Google is actively penalizing websites that are buying inbound links. They claim that they have become very good at identifying websites that sell links and are penalizing both those websites and the websites who buy the links. A few years go they penalized just about every directory that was selling links, and devalued all of the links they sold. The irony is that Google is the largest link seller on the web through their AdWords pay-per-click program. If you have a website that is selling links, there are steps that you can take to avoid penalties. We can help you to correct these issues.
If you grasp the concepts in this SEO tutorial, you should now understand that not all inbound links are treated equally, a few quality links to a website can have a significant impact on the website’s ability to rank well.