SEO: Linking Strategy

In my last post, I wrote about three simple steps for getting started with SEO. This week, I thought I’d write about links. One of the key pieces of SEO is a linking strategy. Inbound links (links coming into your site) and outbound links (links going out of your site) are essential to establishing solid rankings. Everyone reading this has probably gone to their search engine of choice with a query and clicked on a result that looked promising – only to find that it was just a page of links, some stranger than others perhaps, some more relevant than others. Not a great user experience, to say the least, and not one that you would want to repeat with your own site. So, here are some ideas for ways to provide and obtain quality links: 1. Cite your sources. Just like we were all taught in grade school: If you borrow someone else’s idea, give them credit. And provide a link to them. No one likes to see their work “borrowed” by someone else. So add a link here or there to the research and studies you cite. Not only is it respectful, but it also benefits your readers and provides quality outbound links. 2. Return the love. If a partner has linked to your site, feel free to link back to theirs. When you work with someone on a project, give them a link shout-out. They’ll likely do the same for you. And the search engines will notice. 3. It’s not (just) a popularity contest. If ranks could be affected solely by the number of links a site accumulated, spammy sites would rule the online world. Certainly, quantity of links is an important piece of the search algorithms. But, it’s not all about quantity. The search engines also look for quality links. Spam sites, irrelevant links, too many paid links – all of these are deemed lower quality by search engines, because they’re considered to be of lower quality to the person searching. It’s not a game of whoever has the most links, wins. 4. Get creative. The best way to generate links is to continually create content that’s worth sharing and worth linking to. Blog posts, videos, case studies, infographics. All custom content, all linkable. And each can be shared in social networks (infographics are big on Pinterest lately), posted on presentation sharing sites like SlideShare, or distributed through RSS feeds. Do you have other ideas on generating inbound links? Feel free to share your experiences in the comments below.