If you have been running a website for long, you are probably already aware that its success or failure can seem a little complicated. It isn’t enough to just have a website for your business, it needs to be a great one. This means high-quality images, well-written text that includes your needed keywords, easy-to-navigate pages, appropriate links where they are helpful to the visitor, and clear contact information.
At this point, you may be saying “Wait, what kind of text? Which keywords? Appropriate links?” Yes, not all content is good enough to bring in new website visitors and convert those who are there. That is why content is such a big component of Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
A Quick Intro to SEO
Before we go any further into the concept of link building, let’s make sure we have a solid understanding of exactly what SEO is. SEO is a digital marketing strategy focused on growing visibility in organic search engine results. Google is obviously a huge search engine and most SEO best practices are focused on it, but Bing and others should not be ignored. There are many aspects to SEO, from the words on your page to the way your developer codes your images. Essentially, SEO is a way to make sure people find your website, without having to pay for ads in order to be visible.
What are Links?
A hyperlink or “link” is when certain text on a website is able to be clicked on and sends the website visitor somewhere else. You, no doubt, click on these all the time without even realizing they are an important tool. There are actually two different types of links:
Backlinks: A backlink refers to the concept of having other websites link back to your website. It could be a vendor who is telling their own potential customers that they can find their products at your store. It could be a news article about something going on at your establishment. It is important to keep in mind that not all backlinks are created equal. A link from an authoritative website like your area’s local newspaper will have a much greater impact on your organic rankings than a link from a small business or newly-built website.
Internal links: High-quality links from authoritative websites are hard to come by. Don’t worry, you can also build your own! Internal links connect your content and give Google an idea of the structure of your website. You want these links to include your keywords, phrases and terms you would like to rank well for on search engine results pages (SERPs). For instance, your homepage should have written content stating all of your products and services, with each one linking out to its own page with more detailed information. These internal links establish a hierarchy on your site, allowing you to give the most important pages and blog posts more links.
Why are Links Important?
So, why should you be building links? The answer is Google! Google’s algorithms are complex and always evolving, but links remain an important factor in how every search engine determines which sites rank for which keywords. Building links are one of the many tactics used in a successful SEO plan because links are a signal to Google’s web crawlers that your site is a quality resource worthy of citation from other websites and has a strong structure in place.
How Many You Should Have
This brings us to the real question- what is the correct amount? Just like with keywords, you don’t want to “stuff” them anywhere and everywhere. That’s extremely off-putting and will only do the opposite of what you are trying to achieve. There are a right way and a wrong way to both build links from other websites and place them throughout your own site.
If you care about the long-term viability of your website and business, you should only engage in natural link building. This means earning links rather than buying them or putting your effort into achieving them through manipulative tactics, which is often referred to as black-hat SEO. In fact, this is actually a practice that can get your website banned from the search results!
Therefore, when asking “How many?” there isn’t a concrete number for everyone. The exact right number for you depends on how many website pages you have, what your exact services are, and where they fit naturally within your content and website structure.
The Importance of Your Homepage
More than likely, your homepage has the greatest link value because it has the most backlinks. That link value will be shared between all the links found on that homepage. The value of the link will be then passed to the following page will be divided between the links on that page, and so on. Therefore, your newest internal page or blog post will get more value (sometimes called “link juice”) if you link to it from the homepage, instead of somewhere else. Also, Google will find new posts quicker if they’re linked to from the homepage. But what about the number of links pointing to your homepage? Is that important as well?
The Importance of Links Going to Your Homepage
A direct, one-click link back to your homepage is absolutely crucial. There are two reasons why:
1 Going back to the homepage is a common task. Remember that you are trying to make your website better for real people, not just Google crawlers.
2 Many users will enter your website through an interior page, like a PPC landing page, product page, or contact page, and bypass the homepage entirely. Easy access to the homepage provides a new starting point for those who landed on the wrong page or want to explore other parts of the site before they make a decision.
There are two ways to present links back to the homepage: implicit, through logos and other images, and explicit, through links within the written content. You will want to use a mix of both, and again- only when it feels natural and helpful to do so. As an easy example, the top navigation menu that is seen on every website page should have text that reads “Home” that takes someone to your homepage. It doesn’t necessarily need to only be that word, though. Just like with other pages, you can have the link use specific keywords you would like to rank for.
Remember, more is not always better when it comes to SEO. It’s very confusing to those on your website if you have an active link to any given page on that page itself, and the homepage is no exception. Offer “Home” links or clickable logo images only on interior pages. On the homepage itself, do not present such a link and have it loop back to itself.
A Final Word
All digital marketers and business owners should be interested in building links to drive referral traffic and increase their website’s authority. According to Google, the quantity and quality of links are one of the most important factors for gaining top rankings in the SERPs. Natural, organic link building is a difficult, time-consuming process. It is well worth it, though! With some data-backed keyword research and the necessary time it takes to put them in the right places, your website will begin to see better analytics numbers each month.