Why Your Website Needs Inbound Links
By Rick Hendershot
Most web-savvy people quickly learn why they need "links" from other sites pointing at theirs. Your inbound links are one of the most important ways of getting yourself known in your field, generating traff´c to your website, and influencing the search engines to notice your site.
"Traff´c" is what linking is all about. Without traff´c your website is useless as a tool for selling your products or communicating your ideas. Getting links from other websites is not the only way to generate traff´c, but it is probably the most important one.
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But how do links generate traff´c?
First, links generate direct traff´c. Links from sites that share your target audience will be an important source of traff´c to your site. A visitor to the other web site sees the link to yours, clicks on it, and becomes your visitor. Some estimates put the percentage of internet traff´c resulting from this kind of link as high as 21% of total traff´c.
Why do people cl´ck on these links? One reason is they may view a link to an outside source as an endorsement. They assume the webmaster is saying "Here is a source you will find interesting or helpful". They are looking for the kind of service you provide, so they cl´ck on the link to chŰck you out.
But just as important is simple curiosity. Someone sees a text link with intriguing wording like "Powerful Cheap Advertising" or "Win a Free iPod" or "See Pamela Anderson Video" and, depending on their interests, a certain number of people are likely to cl´ck on it.
This suggests at least three things about your links. First, you should get as many links as possible on pages your target audience is likely to be visiting. The more people see your links, the more traff´c you are likely to get.
Second, your anchor text (the words that are linked) should be intriguing. It should be short and sweet, and suggest a benefit -- a reason for people to cl´ck on it.
Third, your links should be on pages that people actually look at. Having hundreds of links on pages that nobody ever looks at will not result in traff´c -- at least not direct traff´c. Putting your link on a link exchange page containing hundreds of services similar to yours is not likely to generate very many clicks. This is why exchanging links with link directories is such a questionable waste of time. Web visitors rarely look at these directories.
Finding good pages where you can place your link is not always easy. One method is to systematically do searches for your most important keywords -- the search phrases people are likely to use when looking for your kind of product or service. Many of the results will be competitors of yours. But one or two may be secondary sources such as directories or reference pages. Getting your link on some of these secondary sources is almost guaranteed to result in traff´c, so it is worth the effort -- and sometimes the cost -- of getting listed in the resources that score high for your keywords.
**Traff´c from Search Engines**
The second reason for getting inbound links is to impress the search engines. Most search engines use the quantity and quality of your inbound links to evaluate the importance and relevance of your site to specific keywords. For instance, if you sell a product like "Full Color Vinyl Banners", or you are a Real Estate agent servicing "Kitchener Real Estate", one of your objectives is to rank high for searches done on your primary search phrase (and other similar ones).
This will result in traff´c because when people search for your important keywords your site is more lik