“But if I link out, my audience will forget–and not return to my website.”
That’s what many people think about outbound links, but it’s not necessarily true.
Small business websites thrive off of inter-connectivity and to search engine optimization (SEO).
Pointing your readers to other related sites makes sense. By offering solid outbound links, you educate your readers about the small business world and the various components they’ll need and enjoy. Your goal is to prove that you’re a valuable commodity in terms what what you have to offer, and outbound links show you have good standing in the field and you’re not threatened. By focusing on creating great content, your readers will want to return to your site again and again.
Outbound links do something else that’s really cool. It tells your readers who you keep company with–who you think is an authority or expert in a related area. You’re not really competing because every site, every business is (or should be) unique. Outbound links show other quality services and products that don’t necessirily compete with yours, but are supportive. Another key reason to link out is because that’s the standard, and without inbound and outbound links, your site doesn’t fit the norm–and search engines don’t like that.
“But what about my competitors?”
It’s true, you do have competitors online.
You don’t have to link to them. Good outbound links are to sites that compliment yours and what you offer. Don’t bother linking to irrelevant sites. Find outbound links that answer your client’s questions or offer supplemental information.
“What about inbound links? How many should I have on my site?”
Inbound linking is the standard website developers and SEO providers offer.
The point is not to have more, but to focus on the best. It’s sad to say, but not enough web sites choose the most relevant keyword phrases in their link text that will lead viewers to their site. Google uses PageRank to determine how valuable a web site is.
Google determines how valuable an inbound link is by considering its keyword rich anchor text. These links should have the most relevant keyword phrases you know. Do some research to find keyword and link popularity at Google AdWords, Yahoo Search Marketing (formerly Overture), or MSN Keywords to help you develop the most up to date keyword list. Subject relevance is imporatant–think of playing darts. Keywords lead viewers directly to your site, and wouldn’t you rather hit the bulls-eye than to have dozens of darts (keywords) that strike close, but not on center?
Inbound and outbound links create a balanced website. It shows your connectivity. It shows you know your field, and that you’re considered to be among the experts.