Confused about linking?
Let's try and shed a little light, then. Now, before we go any further - you will hear/read many different takes on the issue of link strategies - this one's just ours.
Do you have to have links to other sites?
Not necessarily. But you probably can't offer everything from the alpha to the omega to your clients, so it makes sense to offer a few links to companies that complement or expand on your products or services (without being direct competitors).
Example 1: You offer 2 similar widgets on your site. Someone somewhere took the time to review and compare the 2 - so you might want to provide your visitors with a link to that article. Help them make an informed decision. Add value to your own page. Make it easy for your visitors to get the nitty gritty on those 2 widgets. Provide a one-stop shop.
Example 2: Take our own links/resources section. With much of the communication between our clients and us depending on computers, we often hear about technical difficulties, viruses, etc. So, it makes sense to offer links to websites that can be helpful when dealing with such issues. The sites we list as resources do not link back to us and we do not gain anything from their presence - but our clients might.
Do you have to exchange links?
Again, you don't HAVE to - but you probably will.
Nobody in business likes to give something without anything in return - so if you want another site to link to you, they'll probably want a link back. But here's where it gets tricky. Who do you want to link to? And once you've been up and running for a while, you'll get tons of link exchange request. Should you set the next week and a half aside to comply with all these requests? NO!
- Only link to companies, websites, subjects you would feel comfortable recommending to a client standing in front of you.
- Only link to companies, websites, directories that don't bury your link among 1500 others on their page.
- Only link to ESTABLISHED companies, websites, directories (unless it's just a good site for your visitors).
- DO NOT link to sites advertising adult content (unless you run an adult site, of course); it's just not healthy for your image.
- DO NOT link to link farms.
Ok, #1 is self explanatory. So is #4.
#2: Check out where your link is going to be posted. How many links are on that page in total? 10? 50? 150? 500? You don't want to be link #657 on the page! Also, and this runs into...
#3: Does the page your link will be on have a page rank? Page rank= Google's measure of importance (based on inbound links - links from other websites to this particular page) of the page and anything under a page rank of 3 (on a scale of one to ten) is not really worth linking to. You can instantly check Google page rank of any page here »
Did you notice, we've just linked to another site ? The site offers a product/service (and free, for that matter) which may help you and certainly fits into the realm of this article .
So, what does page rank mean, really?
Page rank will not tell you where you or any other site ranks in the search results, but it does allow you to determine if there is an advantage to linking to the site requesting a link exchange. Again, a link from a site with a PR of 2 or less is just about worthless (at least from Google's point of view). Now, other search engines don't show a measure of importance for web pages but you can bet your grandma's slippers, they have one.
New website, no page rank, now what?
It will take a little time. You won't be a page rank 0 or 1 forever. As you build your site content, get listed in the many free business directories online (many of which do NOT require a link back to them), etc...your page rank will go up. Provided you HAVE QUALITY CONTENT and aren't a link farm. Which brings us to...
#5: Link farms are sites with little or no content, but hundreds and thousands of links. And usually a PR (Page Rank) of 1 or less. Stay away - they'll hurt your website more than they will help.
Quality Content? As opposed to...?
You'd be surprised. Quality content is 'real information'. "We're the cheapest in town for everything and you'll get free coffee" doesn't cut it, folks. Repeating your product name 3x in every sentence ain't it, either.
Exactly what are you selling? What is unique about it or you? Are you the only business in your area to provide such product or service? What is your specialty? What are your limitations? What's your policy? Do you have customer testimonials? Can you offer any resources? Or Training? Do you publish your own newsletters or articles? Or... you'll get the idea. And before I forget: DID YOU USE SPELL CHECK?
Actually, SOME words can purposely be spelled incorrectly. Or spelled different ways in different areas of your website. We've done it as well. "Web Design" and "WebDesign", for example, so that if a user mistypes or misspells the word(s), our site will still be in search results.
Sooner or later other websites will link to you. For example, our FAQ page gets linked from other sites. We've taken the time to spell out some very basic terms and there's no need to reinvent the wheel for others, so they just link to our page. And that's perfectly fine with us.