co The Basics of Link Building |

Link building is important to any web site as part of your small business Internet marketing strategy. It is one of the ways that search engines measure the importance of your site. If a web site has many varied links all pointing to it, then the search engines feel that it must be considered important, and they will rank it higher.

It is for this reason that any web site needs external links, internal links, one-way inbound links and reciprocal links. But not all links are created equal. This article will explain these four different types of links, how they work and how they are beneficial to your web site.

External links are links that you make to other web sites. These will effectively be sites that you respect for some reason. However, you need to do your research well to be sure that these web sites are in good standing with the search engines. If they have been penalized for whatever reason, your link to that site will be viewed badly by the search engines, and your site may suffer as a result.

Certain types of site are considered by the search engines to be ‘bad neighborhoods.’ If your link building includes links to one of those it will go against you. However, it should be fairly obvious whether or not a site is of a ‘bad neighborhood’ type. Seek out and only link to the obviously good type of sites, check them regularly to see that they continue to be good, and you will be fine.

Contrary to some opinions, a ‘bad neighborhood’ site that chooses to link to you cannot harm your standing with the search engines. This should be obvious when you consider that it would be easy otherwise to destroy a competitor’s rankings by simply employing this strategy. However, the search engines recognize that in the process of small business Internet marketing you cannot control who links to you, and penalties are only applied to the actions that you have complete control over.

Internal links are those that you provide within your own web site. Your linking structure should be carefully thought out and provided in such a way that the search engine robots are encouraged to crawl ever deeper. In short, make it easy for the robots to find all your pages, however many levels deep they may be.

One-way inbound links are the best kind to make the search engines sit up and take notice of your web site. Ideally, such a link will be from a high quality site that the search engines respect, and the anchor text, the text that actually provides the link, will be your site’s primary keyword.

However, if every one-way link was of this nature, it may begin to look suspicious. Varied links that look natural will always work best. Try to get one-way links that use a variety of keywords that you wish to get ranked for in the anchor text. This looks more natural, and besides, it will spread your chances of getting ranked, as there will be a number of suitable keywords all working for you.

Your web site should provide reciprocal links to other web sites. This link building strategy, while still useful, is not as effective as it once was. You need to choose your link partners carefully with reciprocal linking. It is well worth the time and effort required to research other relevant web sites that have a similar theme to yours to see if they are suitable.

It’s usually a good idea to set up a link to a chosen web site first, then contact the site owner, telling them that you have linked to them, and ask politely if they would link back to you. If, after say a week you don’t hear from them, then simply remove the link to them. However, most site owners will be glad to provide the link.

With reciprocal links you do need to be careful, however. These are sites that you are linking to. In effect, you are saying that the site is one that you consider important. If you choose a site that has been penalized by any of the search engines for whatever reason, it will reflect badly on you.

Link building is just one of the many strategies that small businesses need to address in order to grow a successful web site that will increase profits. It is not an activity that will ever be completed, as it should be viewed as an ongoing small business Internet marketing strategy to be undertaken throughout the lifetime of your web site.

Caroline Melberg
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