Now we’re going to look at inbound links. We’ve broken this into two parts because its very important. In this first part we’re going to look at the theory behind inbound links. Part 2 will cover how to go about actually getting inbound links.
The inbound link theory
What Google will never tell you is that for all the ‘best practice’ and ‘SEO guidelines’ that you follow when building your website, inbound links are where high rankings are won and lost. Inbound links – from other websites to yours – are the single most important factor that determines your website’s position in the Search Engine Results page (SERP).
More accurately, inbound links make up about 70% of the ‘importance’ of your website in the eyes of the search engine.
Why won’t Google tell you this? It’s because they want you to build a website for their spiders that’s as easy to read as possible. They don’t want you to hijack the system using this simple method.
Why are inbound links important? It’s all about how Google sees the Internet. For them, the web is like a topographical landscape with hills and valleys, dips and bumps. Within every subject area, there are hills or ‘authority websites’ that people look towards for new information. They have lots of new and relevant content, so many other websites link to them, as we all want to be referred to a good source of information.
Well known authority sites are the BBC.co.uk, Adobe.com, CNN.com etc. In your market an authority website might well be the website that is associated with your industry magazine, or a well used forum.
A link from one website to another is like a vote from one to the other. It’s like the website saying ‘I trust this website I am linking to’. So when lots of websites link to a single website, lots of websites are voting for that website. Google thinks ‘this website is obviously a trusted source of information; I therefore want it to appear in the SERPS, since I also want to give people trusted information’.
The next question Google faces is, ‘OK, I want it to appear in the SERPs, but for which search query?’ To find the answer to that Google looks at the words used as the link from the first website to the second. This is called the anchor text.
Just to illustrate what I mean, the words ‘build a website‘ are a link to the home page of webeden.co.uk, using the anchor text ‘build a website’.
Google will make that website (the one that is linked to) appear high up in the SERPs for the keywords used in the anchor text of the link.
If you think about it, this is very logical. For example, if I was writing here about ‘blueberry muffins’ and I wanted to link to a great recipe for blueberry muffins, it would make sense for me to link using the anchor text ‘blueberry muffin recipe’. This not only tells you, the reader, where to find the information, but it also describes what that information is.
By creating this link, I will be boosting that blueberry muffin recipe website (the one that I am linking to) up the SERPs for the search query ‘blueberry muffin recipe’.
It’s important that these links are one way, and not reciprocal. If website ‘A’ and website ‘B’ link to each other, it’s like both saying ‘I vote for the other one’, which is the same as a vote for yourself. And a vote for yourself doesn’t really count for anything!
That’s it for the theory. In the next part of the SEO guide we’ll show you how to get inbound links!