People click on them to visit your website, and search search engines follow them to discover your site, and to learn where to list it in the search results. Links are what makes the internet tick, and every site needs them.
Why are links important?
Links are the foundation of the internet. They’re important for several reasons:
- People will click on them and discover your site.
- Search engines follow them to discover your website, and to find out what it’s about.
- Search engines consider the number & quality of links to your webpages to be an good indicator of your pages’ importance.
- Search engines also consider the link text (the words you click on) to be important in determining what your website’s about, and thus in determining for which search results your site will appear. (Note: this is somewhat less important than it used to be.)
Without links, the search engines will give little importance to your site, and people won’t be able to find it.
The importance of relevant links
The SEs give the most weight to links from webpages that are closely related to your own. These are called “relevant links.”
For example, if you’re a Surrealist painter, it would be beneficial to get a link from a webpage about Surrealism, painting, or art. However, a link to your painting site from a car dealer or a veterinarian would be irrelevant.
The search engines consider relevant links to be very important, and carry more weight than links from websites unrelated to your own.
Types of links
One way links are just from website A to website B. Website B doesn’t link to website A. Most web links probably fall into this category. And, they are the most desirable type of links.
The search engines also consider one-way links more important than reciprocal links. See below.
When you exchange links with another website – preferably one with a subject related to yours – that’s a reciprocal link. Find other sites in your field – even competitors – to offer an exchange of links.
For best success, link to the site in question before you email them to ask for a reciprocal link. In your email, tell them where to find their link. If you don’t hear back from them after a reasonable amount of time (perhaps a month), you can remove the link from your page.
Reciprocal links are less desirable than one-way links (those where you don’t link back); they’re given somewhat less weight by the search engines.
However, though they carry less weight, it’s still worthwhile to exchange links with sites related to your own, which may be of interest to your visitors.
Just be judicious about who you link to; don’t accept every (or even most) “let’s exchange links” offer that lands in your in. (Links to spammy or low-quality sites won’t help you or your visitors.)
Natural or “organic” links
Over time, people will discover and link to your site because they like it; these “natural links” are very valuable as well.
To encourage natural (sometimes called “organic”) links to your site, present content that is very useful to your visitors, and add new content on a regular basis.
It can also be helpful to present a “link to us” page with ready-to-use link code & perhaps some graphics, to make it easy for people to link to your site. Here’s an example.
It is possible to pay for a link in a web directory or on another site. Though it’s usually not necessary to buy links (and Google frowns upon some types of link buying and selling), if you’re going to do it, make sure to buy your link from a quality site somehow related to your own.
How to get links!
So, how do you get links?
Submit your site to web directories
Though they don’t work as well as they did a few years ago, links from good directories – especially those related to your topic – can still be helpful.
Read our tips for directory submissions for best results. We’ll explain how to write an effective title & description, and how to identify worthy directories.
Then, submit your site to specialized topic directories.
(Not every directory is a good one. Learn what to avoid in our article What Makes a Quality Directory.)
Sites in your field
When you find a website similar to yours (even a competitor!), or on a related topic, consider asking them for a link. Don’t forget informational sites, professional organizations, & forums.
Your place of employment, friends, clients, school, local organizations, or businesses you deal with may link to you.
If you’re an artist, ask local galleries, other artists & art supply shops. Musicians, ask local venues, music stores, gear manufacturers, bandmates. Writers can get links from their publishers & fellow writers. And so on.
You know more likely places to get links than you think you do! A little brainstorming will turn them up.
There are a few more ideas on our further promotion ideas page, too.
Place your link on your profile page on Twitter, Facebook, etc.
Don’t forget to link to it in your messages, tweets, etc. so that people will visit your site – and link to it!
Also, place social sharing buttons on your web pages. There are many ways to do this. Here’s one, ShareThis.
Social media sites are a very valuable way to get the word out about your site and to gather links.
Forums & Emails
If you participate in online forums or discussion boards, put a link to your website in your signature (if it’s permitted). Every post you make will give you a link (albeit one that may not carry a lot of weight).
It will happen naturally.
If your site offers something of value, folks will begin to link to it because they want to. And, some of these links will be from relevant sites.
You do need links to your site; you’ll be lost without them. But there are many other things you can do to promote your site as well. I’ve covered some of the best in the article, “Further Steps to Website Promotion.”.
And, we offer you more articles about building websites & promoting them, too.
Good luck with your site! Please let me know if you’d like to use my services, or if you have any questions. I’m always glad to help & would be delighted to hear from you.