The importance of linking is well demonstrated in research. Generating inbound links to your site is not enough, you must generate quality inbound links.

Peek follows the classic linking approach:

  • Create valuable content.
  • Link to other valuable content.
  • Ask for links from quality, relevant sites.

What are the benefits of an effective linking strategy?

Following a link is one of the most popular ways for people to find new sites. If a site or a writer that you respect gives a link to further resources, then because of that respect you’re likely to follow it. Therefore, the more inbound links you have to your site, the greater the opportunities for people to find your valuable content.

Search engines give websites with good inbound and outbound links a higher ranking. The logic goes that if you provide outbound links to other material you are providing a valuable service: and, if other sites link to you then you must have content of value. By providing links to other material you don’t have to re-invent the wheel and create it yourself.

Having a linking strategy forces you to ask the fundamental question, “Why would anyone want to link to you?” The answer of course is that you provide something of value, you need to be clear about what that value is.

Inbound links help to build trust. If people see that a popular or respected site links to you, then their level of trust in what you say and what you offer is likely to be higher.

Perhaps most importantly, you become part of a community. In every field of activity on the web there will be a number of key sources. Linking to them and providing valuable content that they can link to will make you a part of a powerful virtual network.

What is a linking strategy?

The basic principle is ‘create good content, link to great content and great content will link to you’. A linking strategy is a methodology that builds appropriate inbound links to your site and helps you achieve your overall business objectives. In order to build a linking strategy, you must have good content on your site. You should also publish outbound links that your site users will find valuable. Finally, you should have a target list of external sites from which you can request links.

The basic concept of link popularity

If someone links to your website, you get a point. If you link to another site they get a point. But not all sites are equal and therefore not all links are equal. A link from a high traffic industry portal is worth infinitely more than a link from a low-traffic free-for-all site. So the birth of Google’s PageRank and other search engine algorithms. PageRank is a measure of how ‘useful’ Google believes a site to be. PageRank influences the value of each link and it has a multiplier effect. A link from a site with a PageRank of will be highly valuable; a link from a site with a PageRank of 0 will be worthless. A link from a high traffic industry portal is worth infinitely more than a link from a low-traffic free-for-all site. Google, AltaVista, Excite and Hotbot all use variations on link popularity when ordering their results.

The more inbound links to your site the better?

The more links to your site, surely the greater the chance that new people will find it? But if people never see these links, they might as well not exist – they are not worth even minimal effort. Developing an effective linking strategy is not about getting as many links as possible: it is about putting your resources into getting quality links that will drive traffic to your website.

You can always fool search engines

A great deal of time is spent by many people trying to fool search engines. Their efforts may be successful for a time but search engines are on constant alert against dubious practices and will take action against them. History has seen the rise and fall of keyword spamming, free-for-alls, link farms, hidden links and others. The effort involved is huge and the success if any is transitory. It is much better to concentrate of giving the search engines what they really want – great content, well-organised, well-published and linked to other relevant material.

Once you’ve done your campaign you can leave it

An effective linking strategy demands an ongoing commitment. Not only must you maintain your links, you must add to them. Once you have covered the basics, a natural momentum will be created whereby new websites will link to you without being asked. But this alone is not enough. You should continue to provide content and resources for the sites that already link to you and you should spend some time every week looking for new links. As your knowledge and experience grow you will be able to further develop and expand your linking strategy.