It can be immensely beneficial for your SEO when you link other websites, but precautions must be taken when deciding which ones. Placing your links on specific, relevant websites could help you reap qualified traffic back to your own whereas bad links can earn you penalties from Google.
We explore why not all links are equal and how some could hurt your rankings.
What is Linking Out?
Given that linking external websites back to your own website is a winner in the world of SEO, it seems only fair that you will need to undertake your own fair share of linking out – or back – to other websites in return. This is a fairly common practise, and provided the sites you link to are not spam-spouting, malware carrying monsters, linking out should do you no harm. You will need to consider the popularity of the linking page, as well as the relevancy of its content and the anchor text used in the link. Quality links also provide valuable relevancy clues for search engines and help make metrics easier to measure.
Should I Link Other Websites?
Until recently, exchanging links with other websites on pages like “Recommended links” or “Our partners” were common and often used to build links to websites. Businesses would either contact another website to ask for a link exchange, or mass emails would be sent out offering a link exchange to anyone that were interested. This was an effective way of building links and it was cost effective too.
But things have changed and this link building technique is not nearly as effective anymore.
Search engines like Google soon realised that this was not an honest way of building links and that website owners simply used this as a technique to build their backlinks. As a result of this, less recognition was given to reciprocal links. This has resulted in many businesses giving up on this technique, and even going as far as completely deleting links to other websites.
But reciprocal links are not necessarily penalised. A penalty is different from a link being devalued. Reciprocal links can in some cases still provide a great value to a website, but it won’t count as much toward rankings as it used to in the past. So in some way, even a little value is better than no value.
Remember, even if you don’t get a lot of search traffic from reciprocal links, it can still provide you with referral traffic. It might not be much, but it’s still better than nothing.
Not All Links Are Equal
Always be careful when you exchange links. Some links are undoubtedly more powerful than others and you want the best possible SEO benefit. Avoid linking to irrelevant websites, as this will bring you no SEO value at all. It might even hurt your rankings. Link with websites or partners that are in a similar industry to you, or relevant to the content on your website.
Always ask yourself whether a visitor would find this link logical and helpful. If not – avoid it.
Remember that the more irrelevant links you have on your website, the harder it becomes for search engines to establish your link profile. Google and other search engines need to be able to know what your website is about, and clearly establish its topic.
Having too many irrelevant links can be spam-like and this can raise a red flag with search engines. Your possible referral traffic will disappear too, as people have no interest in reading about the latest garden equipment when they’ve visited a travel website, for example.
Avoid linking to low quality websites.
Your website can be penalised for linking to spam-like or low quality websites. It will hurt the quality of your rankings and your trust level will drop too. Your website won’t be removed from search engine rankings, but too many negative signals can severely hurt your rankings.
Also keep in mind that a website can be a great source to link to initially, but it can quickly become a lower value website over time. That’s why you should review your link building website every few months and remove any links that no longer work in your favour.
Placing Your Website Link on Other Pages
Consider where your website link will be placed on. If it’s a high quality website, it will definitely be a benefit for you. But if your link appears along with a list of others on the same page, it won’t provide the value that you need. It may share the page with other links, but make sure that the links are all relevant to your website or industry. If not, then rather remove your link.
As a very general rule of thumb, if your website link is placed on a page with a lot of other links (let’s say 50 or more) the link value will reduce significantly.
Reciprocal links can be of value, as long as you stick to the guidelines. It’s all about value, and choosing the right link building opportunities. If you want to make use of guest posting opportunities for example, apply the same rules. Only have your link posted on a page that is relevant to your website, and one that does not share the space with a host of other irrelevant links.
Getting Started with Link Building
One of the best ways to get started with link building is to contact your customers and suppliers. Ask them if they will consider linking to your website. You know you can trust them, and they can trust you.
You can also research your social media following and ask businesses in the same industry if they can link to you. The success rate may not be great, but it’s worth a try. Finally, remember to personalise your approach when you contact other small businesses in your industry. You want them to see the value in linking to you, and not feel as if they are part of a mass marketing effort.
By keeping to the basics, link building can be a great help. Always search for the best websites in your industry and research their traffic and link stats before you accept a link exchange. And remember to regularly evaluate your own website’s outgoing links to remove links that no longer provide value.
Need a hand?
If you’re in need of a reliable and experienced team to handle your website’s content, look no further. Our experts at The Content Works can help ensure that your site content is fresh, relevant and interesting. To learn more about how we can help improve your site, give us a ring on 0207 305 55 99 or drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.