Links make the Internet work. Before search engines were around new people found you via a link from another website they visited. This is how your incoming links grew and grew. Today we have all kinds of places where links to our website/blog can be linked from.
In this article we will cover:
- What is an incoming link for those who do not understand the phrase.
- Why are incoming links important?
- On-site techniques to improve incoming links.
- Off-site techniques for building incoming links.
- How fast to build incoming links.
What is an Incoming Link?
An incoming link (also known as a backlink or inbound link) is a link from another location on the Internet that when clicked the person arrives at your site. The link can take them to your home page or any page on your site, it depends on how the person who linked to you set up the link.
Below is an example of a link pointing to the home page of the site:
<a href="http://www.yourdomainname.com/" title="Title attribute">words
This is an example of a link pointing to a page within a site:
Why are Incoming Links Important?
Incoming links are important mostly because that is how people find you on the Internet.
Other reasons why incoming links are important:
- The number of links pointing to your site or a page within your site is an indication to the search engines how popular your site/page is around the Internet.
- Google has a technology called PageRank (PR – not to be confused with PR as in Public Relations) which looks at the number of links you have and the quality of those links. If you wish to learn more about PageRank see Wikipedia’s PageRank article. In a nutshell, the better your incoming links the higher the PageRank your web page will get. Notice it is a ranking for an individual web page. It is possible for an interior page of your site to have a higher PageRank than your home page.
Note: Google themselves say not to get obsessed with the PageRank of your web pages. They stress that one should concentrate on more productive activies when working on the success of your site.
…the Webmaster Central team has been telling webmasters for years that they shouldn’t focus so much on PageRank as a metric for representing the success of one’s website…
Official Google Webmaster Central Blog: Beyond PageRank: Graduating to actionable metrics
- Exposure. Just like the older methods of advertising, exposure to as many potential interested readers and potential customers is good.
Now that you have those tibits of information the more important part of incoming links is the quality and relevance of the site or web page linking to you than the number of links or PR of the page linking to you.
We all start from no where when we launch a website or blog. If you get an incoming link from another new site that has the potential to be a good site related to the theme of your own site that is still a good link if you think long range instead of immediate.
On-Site Incoming Link Building
On-site refers to your own website or blog. This is the place to start if you want to work on incoming link building.
Many people who are in a rush to see their website or blog succeed rush past these easy things they can do and are under their control.
Create Content People Want to See
Way back in your site planning (you did that right?) you would have studied what your target audience likes and dislikes. Before even thinking of investing any time (or money) into link building your site needs interesting content for the people to read or see once they click that link they found you via.
If you do this then you will earn organic incoming links way easier than going out and hunting down places to get a link from.
On-Site SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
While you should never do things to manipulate your standings in the search results there are on-site search engine optimization tasks you can do help yourself get listed in the search results. e.g. Using keywords or phrases your target audience search for, suitable catchy search engine friendly headings, an easily navigated site, good url structure, etc.
This also evolves into more incoming links with less work than hunting down spots to get a link from.
Using internal linking (<--what I just did there and other locations in this article) to guide visitors and the search engine bots into the depths of your site will keep visitors and the search bots on the site longer.
This also counts as a “vote” for the page linked to.
Become the “Go To” Site for Information
How do you become the “Go To” site for information in your chosen field? By providing good quality information and quality resources for your visitors.
Some have an aversion to linking out to other sites because they are scared they are going to loose the visitor. They found you didn’t they? If you provide quality information they will a) bookmark your site b) find you again c) use the back button to backtrack to your site or d) open the link in a new tab or window by choice so they don’t loose their place on your site.
A RSS feed is a file on the site listing all your articles as you publish them. Ours is here: Web Page Mistakes RSS Feed.
Not only can your visitors choose to follow your updates via your RSS feed, if you are using WordPress there is a built-in mechanisim that “pings” (sends a message to) certain RSS feed sites to let them know you have a new article which in turn creates an incoming link the search engines will find.
Tip: Following RSS feeds is a great way to find interesting stuff to share on your social networking sites and find places to leave comments, besides keeping up with the latest updates of the sites you like.
A few more ideas for on-site incoming link building are:
Write something controversal. Spread the word to a few people and it could spread like wide fire across the social networks and incoming links from other people writing about your take on a topic.
Give away free stuff.
Create an Infographic
Create an infographic (informational graphic) about something no one else in your industry has analyized. It might get pinned on Pinterest, ya never know.
Create an Informational Video
Create a how to post or article and include a video for those who learn better visually rather than reading.
Recycle the video as an off-site incoming link technique by posting it to your YouTube or other video site you belong to.
Provide Social Networking Tools on Site
Make it easy for your visitors to spread the word for you via social networking tools that post your link to their social network.
Off-Site Incoming Link Building
Off-site incoming link building refers to you doing things on other sites to create incoming links to your site.
If you have done the above tasks well enough you might not have invest time and money into these off-site incoming link methods. (smiles)
Note: Some of these techniques you can hire people to do for you however, due to spammers overusing some of these techiques they are not as effective as when you add a personal touch by doing them yourself manually. See Before you Before You Buy or Exchange That Link
Post to Your Own Social Network Accounts
Go to your social networking accounts and post an update which announces a new article or feature at your own site.
There are automated ways to do this but doing this manually and hanging around for a bit could be more effective as you cam immediately thank those who shared your update. The effect of the thank you kind of gets lost afterwards if you do it a day later IMHO.
Comment on Other Sites
You can get leads on where to comment from your social networks and the RSS feeds you follow.
Actually read the post/article and make a thoughtful comment. You get to leave your name and usually you can fill in your website/blog address. Some blogs have CommentLuv which fetches your latest article/post from your own RSS feed. Wooho! 2 links for the price of one.
Guest Blog Posts
If your own site is ship shape and you have some spare time, you could write an article for someone else’s site in your industry. At the end of your article there is a resource box where you can do a like description about yourself and usually can also link to your own site.
Like guest blogging, writing an article for a related industry newsletter can result in an incoming link if they archive the newsletters on their site. If they do not publically archive the newsletters it is still an incoming link from the article that readers can click to visit your site.
Write a Review
Go to the site of a product or service you have used and write a review. There are also other places you can write a review like Google Maps (formerly Google Places), Yelp, etc.
You could do this on your own site also as an article or endorsement.
Write a press release and submit to news sites if you or your business has done something newsworthy.
Become a Sponsor
Sponsor an event, contest or cause. They usually have a sponsors page where you will be listed.
This is also something you could do as an on-site link building task.
If any of the associations you belong to have a members listing, submit your site. Even if the membership is not viewable to the public, you could still get some traffic from other members.
There are all kinds of paid advertising opportunities online. Just invest your advertising dollare (or pennies) wisely on the locations where you are going to get traffic from your target audience.
Build Incoming Links Slowly
Build your incoming links slowly. Nothing screams “I am manipulating the search engines” more than building incoming links too quickly. Granted, the search engines are not going to find all the links you build in a day on that day but if you go from 0 to thousands in a short period of time that will send up a red flag (unless of course you wrote a really hot article that went viral).
Got some more incoming link building ideas? Add them to the comments below.
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