If you’ve been on the web for a while, particularly if you had an older blog or website in the early 2000s, you may remember that most websites had a page for “links.” This was where you linked to other great websites that you thought were relevant to what you offered. Why did people do this? Because one of the most important parts to being found in the search engines was having links back to yours. Google and other search engines would see a lot of websites pointing to one specific website related to a topic, and give that website a higher ranking as being the most relevant website on that topic.

Everyone was doing a “link exchange” where they would put links on their site to other sites in exchange for a link back to theirs. There was an entire industry on link building, and lots of businesses with the resources to do it were paying to have links back to their website.

This was hugely successful from a marketing perspective, but of course those with the resources to abuse this tactic did, and eventually the rules changed.

Are backlinks still important?

Yes. Links that point back to a site related to a specific topic do still provide valuable input to the search engines on which sites are great resources on a certain topic. Having solid backlinks will help your rank in the search engines.

Why shouldn’t I just buy links then?

Once people started abusing this, Google began to penalize sites for it. It’s no longer a good idea to buy links from everywhere back to your site. If your website sells socks, then you don’t need a link back from a horse breeder, right? It’s not a relevant link. But if you sell socks, then someone who sells shoes might link to you and that IS relevant.

So how do I get links?

The hardest part of this equation is how to get the links in the first place. I have a few tips.

  1. Write great content. If you write it, they will come. Keep publishing good information, people will start to find it and share it.
  2. Use social media. When you you complete step 1, which is integral, then share it. Share it on Facebook, share it on Twitter. Use hashtags to help people find it. Once you get other people reading it, you’re more likely to get them to link to it.
  3. Ask! Reach out to websites and bloggers who target your demographic and ask if they are interested. Lots of times bloggers are eager for content to share and would love to write about what you offer.
What not to do:
  • Don’t pay for links. A solid link strategy shouldn’t include buying links. It’s a bad idea and can get muddy fast.
  • Don’t put your existing blog posts as “guest posts” on another site. Google sees this as duplicate content and it can hurt your ranking. Instead, write NEW blog posts to use on other sites. Guest posts are a great idea to offer other bloggers or websites, but it has to be fresh. (That’s a lot more work, I know, but trust me on this.)

Having links to your site isn’t the ONLY way to be found… but it is important. However, the best route is to get there organically but writing great content and sharing it. BE a great resource for others, and you’ll find yourself rising to the top.

Amy Masson

Amy is the co-owner, developer, and website strategist for Sumy Designs. She's been making websites with WordPress since 2006 and is passionate about making sure websites are as functional as they are beautiful.

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