Using Links To Improve Your SEO

You’ve spent hours scratching your head trying to understand WordPress, spent another three days carefully curating the images for your website and finally, you are ready to go live!  You have built it so they will come, right?  Wrong.  If you want your website to actually generate leads and enquiries for you so you see some reward for your efforts, you need to make sure the right people can find it.

A simple google search will show you tons of ways to optimise your site so that you appear high enough in search engine results, that prospects will find you.  There are loads of ways you can help yourself at no cost other than your time, or you can choose to enlist an expert to help you.  However, there is one really powerful DIY way you can help your SEO that can’t be overlooked – Link building.  Now, I’m no SEO expert but I used to be a partner in a business whose success was hinged on link building so it’s an area of SEO that I do have experience in.

What Are Links?

For the purpose of this blog if I refer to a ‘link’ I mean an external link.  In other words a url link to your website from somewhere other than your own domain – a genuine third party linking to your website.

Why Are Links Important?

Search engines crawl the web continually and links are the map they use to do that. Links show search engines how pages are related and they use complex algorithms to decide how valuable those links are.  In other words external links are 3rd parties endorsing your website – they’re saying to their visitors ‘hey this is a cool site we think you’ll love, go take a peek’.  And when you think about it, that’s a pretty big deal.   Who we refer customers to is a reflection on ourselves so we want to make sure we’re sending people to someone who will look after them. So although no-one is actually sure of the black magic, ever changing recipe that search engines use to determine how far up the results they will place you, SEO experts believe that external links are the most important source of ranking power.

Not All Links Are The Same

The more popular and important a website is deemed, the more valuable the links from it are. In addition to this, it is generally thought that sites linking to you where there is a theme or topic in common for both sites, is ranked higher than a general link with no relevance.  If your site is about newborn photography, a link to you from BANPAS matters much more than a link from a site about fashion!

Follow / No Follow???

I don’t want to get technical but as we’re talking about links, I have to mention that there are two types of link – follow or no-follow.  Follow links basically count for more than no-follow links.  A no follow link is the webmaster telling google – take no notice of this link in your black magic algorithm calculations.  The url link still works and takes you to the web page it refers to – it just doesn’t help your seo.  BUT it’s still referral traffic so far from worthless!  You have no control over a website that decides to make it’s links no-follow ones but if you want to check, this is how you do it.

In Chrome, go to the navigation bar and click View>Developer>View Source. Alternatively you can just right-click on a page and hit Inspect Element. For Firefox, do Right-Click>View Page Source.

From there, do an Edit>Find and search for “nofollow” in the search box. All instances of the nofollow tag will be highlighted.


3 Types of Links

There are typically 3 kinds of external links and it’s a wise idea to have a mixture of all three. Of course, depending on your budget and the time you have allocated to this task you might want to centre your efforts where you think you’ll see the best returns.

Editorial Links

Editorial links are included naturally in articles, blogs and web copy.  These types of links are generally considered the most powerful as they usually occur naturally as part of an endorsement or reference to the original source of the material or topic being discussed.  You can generate more of these types of links by creating brilliant content that people want to share.

Manual Links

These are links you engineer and might be free or paid for.   You can see how guest blogging with relevant business can really help your SEO.  If you work closely a with businesses who has a similar audience to you, you may even feel comfortable dedicating a page to each other on your website with each of you linking to the other.  This increases trust in the eyes of the search engine who sees this as a valuable endorsement and rewards you with higher rankings. Including your details on a trusted and relevant directory such as our directory of newborn photographers (the search facility on this page generates around 10,000 visits per month) will also assist your own site in moving up the rankings.  Other places you might look at paying for links in could be Netmums, or local baby related directories.

Self Created Links

These are usually links that are included in your signature when you comment on blogs, articles or guest books.  They have the lowest value and if you systematically post too many of these types of links (read spam), then search engines will penalise you rather than reward you, so beware!


Check Who Links To You Already

You can use this handy free tool to check the inbound links to your website.  If you find a link you didn’t know about it’s always nice to drop and email thank them for the mention – maybe this could lead to some guest blogging.  If you have very few quality links, it’s time to start creating a plan.

Content is KING

I can’t write an article on SEO without reminding you that managing your links is wasted effort if your content is poor.  Google in particular, will reward interesting and relevant content with higher rankings but the longer term effect is that more links will naturally be built as others want to link to your content.  If you are time short, opt for content creation over link building!

I really hope you’ve found this article useful and as usual, would love your feedback in the comments.

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