What Are Inbound Links?

There are lots of beautiful, lonely websites out there. It always makes me sad when a business owner invests time, energy, and money into setting up a web presence and then — nothing. Aside from those contacts that have been directly sent to it, nobody visits these sites because they can’t find the darn things!

The “study” of getting websites found and read is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) or, a slightly newer term is Search Marketing Optimization. It simply means that you’ve made every effort to attract the search engines (e.g. Google is the BIG one in Canada) and give them the information they need to decide how to file away your web pages. That’s it.

What is less simple is figuring out what information they are looking for. That key is a carefully guarded secret and is slightly different for each engine, thus giving each of them a sliver of competitive advantage over each other. Debates rage on in the SEO and marketing community as to what each engine is looking for and how best to offer it. One thing that is quite well agreed on is the value of inbound links, which are sometimes referred to as backlinks.

Inbound links are connections that other sites make to yours. That is, someone else has added a link on their site which directs to yours. The basic premise for the value of these is that if other people like your pages and site enough to link to them, there must be some valuable information there. Makes sense, right?

Okay, so how do we build up the inbound links to our site? Good question! I’ll give you three ideas to start with this week.

  1. Referral Partners: Do you know other business owners that love your products or services and continuously refer your business? Ask them if there is space on their site for either a small banner ad, a mention in their blog, or a link on a partner page. Offer the same to them if you love their services just as much.
  2. Comment on a Blog: When you leave a comment on a blog you’re doing two things — telling the web world you exist and linking back to your site. Yay! There is a bit of debate as to how heavily weighted these types of links are by the engines but one thing is for sure — they are WAY better than no links. Besides, anything that directs people back to your site is a win.
  3. Directories: Are you a member of an organization such as a chamber of commerce or a networking group? Check your online listing and make sure that your website address is there and is correct. Build a few more by joining LinkedIn, Facebook, or Hot Frog (all free).

SEO is a big topic, of course, but if you spend a bit of time tackling it in pieces, you’ll begin to see results pretty quick. Start with inbound links and I’ll talk about other techniques in upcoming weeks.

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