Linking has always been an important part of Google’s strategy.
When Google first started, it ranked sites by how popular they were, a key difference to other search engines. One of the main ways it did that was to count the number of links that pointed to a site – the more other sites pointed to you, the better Google considered you to be.
Once people realised how it worked they started to fool Google by automatically creating millions of links back to a site. This tactic (link spamming) only really stopped after a major Google update (called Panda) in 2011 which gave linking a bad name that still lingers.
But the truth is that linking back to your site is still an important part of raising your its profile on Google, as long as it’s done properly.
It is a good idea to link between pages on your own site, where it makes sense. For example, in this article we told you we’d be looking at linking next – that’s an example of an internal link.
Internal linking helps google to build up a picture of the hierarchy of your site, and the fact that you do it tells Google that you’re building up information that is coherent and organised – you get points for that.
So wherever it feels natural, link from one page to another within sentences on your site.
Good links are still good
Linking from other sites is still valuable but you must avoid links from places that Google considers untrustworthy.
This leads into a huge discussion about PageRank, authority and many other aspects of SEO but we’re going to keep it simple here and just highlight some of the links you can safely do, without going too much into the jargon.
- Blogging – writing articles for other people’s blogs is a great way to get links back to your site. But put them in an obvious sign-off at the end, don’t bury them in the text. Google lieks things that are overt, not hidden.
- Blog commenting – only put relevant comments on high quality blogs that are of interest. If you work in a particular area, look for blogs talking about your location.
- Comments – put links in comments on articles on high quality sites. Note that many won’t allow links in comments at all, some only if you’re properly registered.
- Networking – share links with people you trust – peers, suppliers, customers. Ask them to link to you from their site in return for you linking to them.
- Social media – linking back to your site from Twitter or Facebook won’t affect your Google ranking but may send interested people to your site – and that’s what it’s all about in the long run.
With all the above you MUST use sites that are relevant to your business and what you do. For example if you’re a locksmith in Mossley, there’s no point in guest blogging on a site advertising cottages in the Lake District. Look for websites and blogs in your area and sites about building or home security.
Google is far more likely to penalise you that raise you up in the search results if links to you aren’t relevant.