Google and Website Links
Google was one of the first search engines to use website popularity as a key indicator of a website’s relevance in search results. The Google founders believed websites with more incoming links from other websites should be ranked higher in search results. The more popular the sites linking to your site, the better the search results in Google. This, along with a very simple and easy-to-use home page, contributed to Google’s fast growth and eventual dominance in web searches. In fact, Google still remains one of the easiest-to-use search engines, and this has contributed greatly to very high usage and market share dominance.
Inbound links are no longer the primary driver of SEO results in Google. In fact, they have created a huge spam problem for Google, as websites with irrelevant links are found high up in search results. However, links to your site continue to be a significant part of how Google ranks websites in search results, especially if those links are from popular and highly visible sites. Let’s review a few key issues to understand when you are working to increase your search results from inbound links.
Build a Relationship to get Links
There are several ways to get links to your website. One of the best is to develop an alliance or partnership with websites in your industry visited by your target market and to request a link exchange. Contact the company directly and make a business or marketing case for the link. Explain how the link will help both companies.
It is also important to establish links from directory and general resource websites. Here are a few suggestions of the types of websites that can provide strong inbound links.
- Industry-related websites
- Association websites
- Industry resource sites such as ThomasNet.com
- Local Yellow Pages websites (YP.com)
- Online directory websites such as Yahoo
- All the major social media sites
For an additional list of directory sites and to get inbound links visit Yext.com. Yext can also provide industry-specific sites and local options.
Collecting inbound links to your website that have no relation to your site is not recommended by Google and may be considered spamming. This approach to inbound links may result in Google penalties. Many SEO companies offer link-building services and they may produce results; however, make sure you build links of value and relevance to your website so your site complies with Google’s anti-spamming rules. If you are doing something just to trick Google and drive more traffic, you are running the risk of Google removing your website from their search results. Also, avoid posting to many blog posts, hoping to get inbound links. This is considering spamming by Google.
Multiple Domains and Duplicate Content
Occasionally, web marketers will buy dozens of domain names and build dozens of similar websites, all linking back to the company website. They are looking for more search engine traffic and inbound links. This is a very thin strategy and frowned upon by Google. Building multiple websites, only for the purpose of search engine rankings, may bring a penalty from Google, as they may see duplicate content as a spamming technique. Multiple websites from the same company with unique domains should only be used for unique market segments to meet user needs, not to trick Google into higher search engine rankings.
Track Results in Google Analytics
Links to your site are called referrers in Google Analytics and this is a key metric worth watching. Keep a close eye on the conversions coming from these links. You may find that traffic coming from targeted referring websites through inbound links could have some of the highest conversion rates on your website. This is in addition to the improved search rankings.
Although it is no longer the major influencer of search rankings for Google, gaining inbound links to your website does help you get a higher position in search results and can generate qualified traffic that converts into a sales leads and sales for your company.
- Include an inbound link strategy in your strategic digital marketing plan.
- Task your marketing team to develop a list of the most popular websites visited by your target market. Reach out to these companies for a link exchange.
- Develop a list of association and directory websites in your marketplace.
- Track inbound links in Google Analytics and in Webmaster Tools.
- Get a link from your website development or ad agency provider to your site.
- Go to Google.com and type in links: followed by your website domain name or links: www.YOURWEBSITE.com and hit enter to see a listing of inbound links pointing to your website in Google’s index. This can be done in Webmaster Tools as well.
Thomas Young is the CEO and founder of Intuitive Websites. He is an author, speaker and digital marketing consultant. Order Tom’s book “Winning the Website War” to get more digital marketing insights.