If you want your website to show up in the search results, you need to be thinking about links.
When deciding where to rank your web pages in their search results, search engines factor in everything they can about your website to determine how useful your page will be to their users. One of the main things they consider are links.
Search engines, like Google, send little bots called web crawlers (often known as spiders) to trace the internet and see how things are connected. Pages with similar keywords have similar content. But a stronger connection between two pages is through a relevant link.
The Two Types of Link Building
There are many ways to categorize links, but the first thing that separates links are internal and external links.
Internal links are within your own site. When a search engine, like Google, wants to rank your pages, they create a map of your whole site. What content does this site have? How does it link together? What is most important?
This is where hiring an experienced web developer who understands search engine optimization (SEO) can help. They will structure your website in a way that will point Google to exactly what they need to know about your business and where they should send your customers.
If you’re doing this on your own, look at your navigation and track how a customer (or a web crawler) would find each of your pages. Where do the links come from, and where do they point? Create a hierarchy where you think about what pages are most important, or what information is most important. And create links that use the most relevant keywords to what that page is about. The keywords are telling both users, and search engines, what you are linking to.
The next type of links are external links coming into your site. Before 2012, people used to buy links from many pages. It was a game: whoever had the most links pointing to their site won. Search engines, especially Google, did not like this because they want their pages to be relevant, not gamed. There are some websites still encouraging you to buy external links, but this is not a recommended practice at all and search engines may penalize you for it.
Instead, you need to focus on quality. You want external links pointing to your site from relevant sources that have some authority.
How To Build Quality External Links
Many people build links to their website by networking. Do you have colleagues in the same general industry as you? You want your links to be from relevant websites. Consider whether it would seem natural to the audience of this person’s website if that site were to link to yours. If so, you could ask the site owner if they would link to your page. It would be preferable for the link to be within content on their site, linking to your page with a relevant keyword.
Create quality content people will want to link to. The more quality content on your website, the more people will want to link to your page. By creating content pages on your site, or a blog, with useful content that your audience loves, people will naturally want to link to your pages.
Write a guest post. Many blog owners open their page up to guest posts from other site owners. Find a blog in your industry and ask if you could guest post on their site, and in exchange for the post you would write, the post will contain a link to your page. When you email the blog owner, be sure to mention how the content you would create would be relevant and useful to their audience.
Never forget as you are looking at your internal link structure or building external links that quality is what matters. While it’s nice to have as many links as you can, you never want it to seem unnatural or irrelevant. Learn to build links as part of healthy site practices and trust that with time you will make progress.