Ever wonder why websites like Wikipedia consistently show up at the top of search rankings? It's because thousands upon thousands of other sites link back to pages on Wikipedia, which is one of the key indicators for search engines to know that a website contains relevant content for specific search terms.
So how do you get other websites to link to yours? Not surprisingly, if you want to build links the right way there are no simple shortcuts. That said, here are a few simple tips that you can implement right now to encourage others to link to content on your website and boost your search engine optimization.
Create Quality, Relevant Content
Rule #1 of link building is straightforward: if you create quality content, it follows that other people will likely want to read, share and link to it. In turn, more links back to your content will signal to search engines that your content can be trusted.
What's more, the quality of links back to you from reputable websites matters much more than the quantity of links back to you. That's why simply paying other websites for bulk linkbacks will rarely be a winning proposition. There's a good chance that Google and other search engines will have already flagged these kinds of websites as spam, and if they suspect that you're trying to cheat the system by paying to influence pagerank, your search ranking may be negatively impacted.
Make Sure Your Content is Findable and Readable
The new content you publish on your website needs to be easy for people to locate, because if people can't find it, then they obviously won't be able to link to it. If you have a blog on your website, make sure that visitors can easily find your most recent posts. You can also use a slider plugin for your website to rotate excerpts of your new content in an eye-catching, interactive way.
Additionally, you'll want to ensure that when people find your content it's properly formatted for reading on a screen with the appropriate amount of headings, subheadings and whitespace. Finally, it's also important to create content that’s intended for real people, and not simply jam keywords into a blog post or webpage to get a search engine's attention. Once again, most search engines today are sophisticated enough to tell the difference, and you're not very likely to encourage links back to your content if it's transparently keyword-stuffed.
Get Social and Start Sharing
While search engines often treat links on social networks differently from links on more typical websites (with respect to their ability to influence search rankings), sharing your content using your social media profiles is a great way to create awareness and encourage natural links on other websites.
If you want to help your content stand out amongst the noise in people's social feeds, consider including an image and filling out the description “meta tag” for the page it appears on so social networks like Facebook know what to pull in for the excerpt text that accompanies your link there.
Reach Out Around the Web
One great way to build links is to create content for other websites that offer you a linked byline or reference that points back your website. For instance, not only is guest posting on other high-traffic blogs a great way to drive people to your website and build your reputation as a trusted subject matter expert, but it's also an effective way to boost your search ranking through natural links back to your own website.
Taking the opportunity to participate in or be profiled on other websites, such as in a Small Business BC Success Story, can help improve your SEO as well.
Remember: No Shortcuts, Just Elbow Grease
Building external links back to your website to improve SEO may seem like a dark art at first, but like anything in your business it simply takes a bit of planning and ongoing commitment in order to get it done the right way. By avoiding “black hat” or other questionable link building techniques, you can be confident that you’re building your business’ presence around the web in a way that search engines will recognize favourably now, and in the future.