External links, reciprocal linking, search engine optimisation… It’s enough to spin the heads of those not up to date with web development language. However, if you have a business website and you want to achieve listings on the first few pages (and hopefully the top 10) of Google, you’d better start to pay attention!
Let’s start with a simple one: External links are simply the links from other websites that are pointing to your website. So, let’s imagine your website’s domain name is www.mywidgetbusiness.com and a friend of yours has a site called www.myfriendswidgetbusiness.com. If the friend places a link for www.mywidgetbusiness.com on www.myfriendswidgetbusiness.com, this is an external link. If you place a link on your website pointing to your friend’s website, this is called reciprocal linking.
This sounds simple and is, but unfortunately there’s a lot more to it than this. One of the main reasons is that not all external links are created equal.
Link quality and search engine optimisation
Link quality is important when looking at external links and there are several factors to examine.
First and foremost, if the website which links to your website is considered important the link is much more valuable to you. There are several ways to determine whether a website is considered important and perhaps the most popular is Google’s PageRank, which uses a rating of 0 to 10 to measure a web page’s value, with 10 being the highest. This value is determined by a number of factors but one of the most important is the number of external links going to the page.
If you’re interested in finding out the page PageRank of a particular web page, Google ‘page rank tool’. A simple service I often use is http://www.pageranktool.net/. Bear in mind that ranks of 1 and 2 are incredibly regular and ranks of 7 or above rare.
Another aspect of link quality is relevance. Search engines are able to determine if the links pointing to your site are relevant; the ones that aren’t won’t help your website much if at all; the ones that are relevant will be more valuable to you.
Lastly, if you do have control over the external link try to include your most important keywords in the link text. For example, if one of your most important keyword phrases is ‘widgets for Melbourne businesses’, use this phrase in the text link (i.e. My Widget Business – Specialists in supplying widgets for Melbourne businesses – where ‘My Widget Business – Specialists in supplying widgets for Melbourne businesses’ is the text and this links to www.mywidgetbusiness.com).
Increasing your links
There are a number of ways that you can increase the number of links pointing to your website. Some of the main ones are:
- Reciprocal linking – as mentioned earlier, this is when you exchange website links with another website owner.
- Links from blogs, social media, forums, etc. – include constructive comments along with a link to your website.
- Free content websites – pay particular attention to the bio and including your most important keywords in the link text.
- Website directories – there are heaps of these out there – some free; some not and some more useful than others.
Keep it up!
Another point to highlight about SEO and external link gathering is that it’s not an activity that has a start and end point. To be successful, you should set aside time each month or quarter to add to your external links.