An important part of SEO involves the use of links to increase traffic to your site, as well as improve user loyalty by directing visitors of your website to other sites which are likely to be relevant to their interests.
Linking within your site
When writing a piece of content, if you allude to information that’s available elsewhere in your site or mention another aspect of your site, it can be beneficial to link to those webpages. There are several reasons for this: you link people directly to the information and context they’re interested in.
However, you should try not to overload your site with internal links, as at a certain point these links become cumbersome, redundant and counterproductive for users. The more links that users have to go through to get to the content they want, the more likely they are to become frustrated and move away from your site to a different one.
Links from other sites to your site
If you have working relationships with other commercial websites, then you can enjoin them to link to your site. You could also agree to share links and traffic by linking to each other. This will increase the prominence of both sites, as well as bringing website users with similar interests together. So, for example, if you own a restaurant you can contact a food critic, inviting them to patronise your establishment and then write about it on their blog. They could link to your website, thus making your online presence available to a larger reach of people online.
Links from your site to other sites
Presenting your visitors with any information beneficial to them will incentivise them to use your website, as long as the information is regularly updated and the information is useful and correct. So linking to sites that specialise in a particular area of interest linked to the goals and purposes of your business will increase brand loyalty and help you to build good customer relationships.
Ideally, you should reach out to the authors of the website before you link to them, in order to confirm that the website is one they want people to see, and that they are happy to get traffic from you. This also opens up the possibility of collaborations with them; they could link to your site, so that their visitors benefit from the information that you provide. This emphasis on knowledge sharing and free content is the way of the future for SEO, putting user-provider relationships over numbers and statistics. Of course, analytics still play a role, but customers are people and not numbers, and there’s no reason why the welcoming quality of a physical shop can’t be reproduced online.
To ensure that link building pays off, make sure to check all links to see if they still work. There’s nothing more frustrating than clicking through to a website and getting a 404 error. Also, link signals degrade over time, links that were once popular stop being informative, so be sure to add additional links regularly. The more links there are to a site, the more popular it is, but if you link to a site that everyone’s seen then you’re not providing anything original. There’s a balance to be struck between how popular, and therefore how trusted, the link is, and how many people have already seen it. Ideally, links should be niche enough to be informative, while also being relevant to the interests of most of your viewership.
In the next blog in this series, I’ll go more in-depth into using analytics and statistical tools to increase your website’s prominence in search engines.