Now let’s go back to our SEO for Beginners journey. You can read SEO for Beginners part I here.(it will open a new window)
Today I am going to talk about linking and linking strategies. First we’ll take a look at the links on your site and we start with the internal links.
These should look like < a xhref=”page-name.html” title=”short description of the new page” >Anchor text< /a >.
It’s in your best interest to make the title and the anchor text as descriptive as possible in just a few words. Some SEO gurus will advise to insert keywords in the anchor text. I agree, up to a point: do it solely if appropriate. The anchor text should explain clearly where the link goes. It was not created to be stuffed with keywords. You should write the links in such a manner so the viewer can tell immediately where they lead. In order not to break the natural flow of the content, provide meaningful anchor texts. Avoid “click here” as anchor text. It really means nothing if you take it out of the context.
The internal links should not lead to under construction pages (if they are under construction, why do you place them online?!), to error 404 pages or other error pages. They should be live links that really lead to related content.
These are external links pointing to your site. Many people assume that the more you get, the better. Some will even tell you that Google likes you to have many links, no matter what and that Google will reward your efforts by giving your site higher rankings in its results and a higher PR (PageRank). Never believe such nonsense! Google is using a complex formula to calculate the value of a site. When it comes to the value of the links, Google is looking first at the quality of the site that gives you the inbound link. By analyzing the number of links pointing to that site, Google determines whether the site has a quality or not. But it also considers the outbound links from that site. So if a certain site, no matter how high its PR is, has thousands of outbound links (on the page where your link is displayed), the value of the inbound link gave to you is rather low.
Google is somehow looking for content related links. As a matter of fact Google needs sites with good content to add value to its search results. The idea is to determine webmasters create a network of knowledge. This is useful for you. First of all because by doing so you might be able to generate a bunch of quality links that will drive traffic to your website. In my article How to Measure SEO Success I was already stressing out that search engine rankings are irrelevant. It’s foolish to go after links just to improve search engines rankings. If you can get links from related sites their visitors might be interested in what you have to offer too. Besides, Google doesn’t even bother to look at all the links that really point to your site. You’ll notice that Yahoo and MSN show you more links pointing to your site than Google. You don’t need to let that discourage you. It doesn’t matter how many links back to your site are listed in Google. What matters is the traffic you receive from the sites that link to you.
You don’t want to use automated software for a serious linking strategy. And you don’t want link farms either. What you do want is to perform a research and find all the sites that have a good quality and are somehow related to yours. You don’t need to link with your competition. If your site is about lamps, you might want to link with lighting magazines, interior decorations sites and so on. Once you find these sites you should contact the webmaster and ask for a link exchange, after you place a link to his/her website on yours. And that leads us to:
You cannot always control the quality of the websites you are linking with, but you should do it as often as possible. Preferably you should have as few outbound links as possible and preferably they should point at quality related sites. See? We are back at that “related” sites story. Why? It’s only ethical to do so. If your visitors are going to leave your site, at least have the courtesy and lead them to something that will not waste their time. And yes, Google does care with whom you are linking. If you make the mistake and link with a linking farm you might get your site banned out of Google. Plan your outbound linking strategy carefully. While you cannot control who links to your site, you can definitely control to whom you are linking. That you might cause your website to be punished by Google for linking with a flagged site makes sense. Don’t worry too much if a linking farm links to you. As long as you don’t reciprocate, there’s no danger for your site. Google will not punish you for what other malicious competitors might do. Google will punish you for your mistakes.