Inbound Links and How They Can Help You Get More Traffic
If you run your own website or food blog, you understand that having other sites link to your own site is very important. These types of links are called inbound or incoming links. In this edition of Foodie SEO, we’ll go over why links are important, and how you can make sure you have the best inbound links possible.
But before we get into that, let’s talk about PageRank, which will be helpful in understanding why inbound links are so important.
What is PageRank?
PageRank is a link analysis algorithm created by Google to determine how important and trusted a web page is. Every page on the web is assigned a Page Rank, which is determined by the quality and quantity of links pointing to that specific page.
- PageRank runs from 0 to 10, on a logarithmic scale.
- The higher the PageRank of a site, the more trusted it is as a source of information.
- PageRank scores are relative to all other pages on the internet.
The More Quality Inbound Links Your Page Has, the Higher its PageRank.
Remember from our entry about SEO, that links are like paths between different web pages.
Search engines consider links as endorsements. The more links (or paths) there are to a page, the more popular, the page must be, and the higher its PageRank.
Of course there are other search engines besides Google, and PageRank is not the most important metric for your site, but having a higher PageRank can help your site rank higher in search results. However, this is not guaranteed. Pagerank (aka inbound links) are just one of the several factors that search engines take into account when ranking results for a query.
Takeaway: Having a high number of quality inbound links to your page is one way to tell search engines that your content is trusted. Search engines like content that is trusted, and will send more traffic to that content by ranking it higher in their search results.
Now, what do you need to watch out for when it comes to inbound links?
1) Link Quality: Links from sites with higher PageRank are worth more than links with a lower PageRank.
As a result, having bunch of links from smaller, less popular sites is worth less than having one link from a page with an extremely high PageRank.
- For example, CNN.com has PageRank of 9, so a link from CNN.com is worth much more.
- You can find out the PageRank of a page from PageRank checkers such as http://www.prchecker.info/check_page_rank.php.
2) Topic Specific Popularity: A link from a site with topics that are relevant to your site is worth more than a link from an unrelated site.
For example, a link to your food blog from another recipe blog is worth more than a link from a computer hardware site.
3) Anchor Text: Anchor text is the clickable part of a hyperlink. The anchor text for links to your site should contain relevant keywords that are related to your webpage.
The basic code for links is: <a href="http://www.site.com">Anchor Text</a>
Since the anchor text is used to describe the page that it is linking to, search engines assume that the anchor text is related to the page that it is linking to.
As a result, what other sites put as the anchor text for links to your site is important. If multiple links use the same keywords in anchor text pointing to your site, your site will begin to rank well for those keywords.
For example: If you have a blog post about a chicken recipe and other bloggers link to that blog with “chicken recipe” as the anchor text, that page is more likely to rank for “chicken recipe” as a keyword.
4) Link Neighborhood: The quality of the sites you link to also matters.
Sites that devoted exclusively to linking to others are regarded as spam. Links from these sites should not hurt your site’s rankings, since you cannot control who links to you.
However if you link to these sites, Google may penalize your site.
5) Link Location: Links matter more if they are higher up in the HTML code of a site, and are in the main section.
For example, if a food blog's code contains three links:
<a href="Link1.com">Chicken Recipe</a>
<a href="Link2.com">Chicken Recipe</a>
<a href="Link3.com">Chicken Recipe</a>
Link1.com will outrank the other 2 links for “Chicken Recipe” as a search keyword, assuming all else is equal.
Additionally, it's also been suggested by some papers (according to SEOMoz)that links inside the main section of the site have more value than links inside the footer or sidebar.
6) External Links: A link from another site matters more than a link from your own site.
This is fairly self-explanatory - a link to your own webpage from another section of your site is worth less than a link from another unique domain.
7) Diversity: The more links you have from different sites, the better your rankings.
A site is separate if it is a unique domain. Having multiple links from multiple unique domains is better than having multiple links from a single domain.
By making sure that your site’s inbound links follow these guidelines, your site will receive maximum benefits from incoming links and begin to rank better in search engine results.
You might ask; how can I get more incoming links? This is called a linkbuilding strategy. We will discuss creating a linkbuilding strategy in our next entry. But your general focus should be on creating useful, relevant and timely content. Incoming links will naturally follow if you focus on quality.
As always, thanks for reading. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment below.
For more information, check out these helpful articles: