An external link is a link that directs to a domain other than the domain it is on. External links (or just links as we will call them from now on) that redirect to your website are used as part of search engines' algorithms to determine how popular a website is.
While still a good strategy to adopt, external links have become a less powerful indicator of popularity; instead, the length of time spent on your website by users after following these links has become more important and so offering quality content is important for capitalising on these links.
In this guide we will be considering the most effective ways to manage links coming in to your website to help you gain a better search engine position.
Building links to your website involves either links that direct to your website occurring naturally, or you manually going out to seek strategic ways to link back to your own website.
The ways in which you can do this are outlined below.
These are links that occur from other people sharing your content and linking to your website. This method contains no 'SEO work' from you, other than producing some excellent 'share-worthy' content. A great place to do this is via a blog as people can follow the links and will likely spend time on your site.
If you had, say, a jewellery website, you could post a blog on 'tips for caring for your newly purchased jewellery'. Maybe you could also talk about your process for creating it, or where you got inspiration from.
You would then be providing content that is useful to your visitors, who in turn might want to share it on their own website or social media feed.
This is probably the best way to get great value links back to your website.
This method can be done by commenting on blogs, contacting other websites to include an editorial about your website and adding yourself to quality website directories.
To do this you must add value to the link destination. For example, don't just comment on someone else's blog with a link back to your own website if you don't have anything useful to add.
Also, try to ensure the locations you are linking from are relevant (at least in some way). Lots of links back to your website from unrelated websites could make you look like a 'spam' website to the search engines.
Low value links include such things as guestbook signings, forum signatures or on any public user profiles, and add very little to your website's search engine ranking, if anything at all. Furthermore, if low value links are overused, or if they occur unnaturally, it is likely you will be penalised with a negative affect on your search engine rank.
Linking like this should be very carefully approached as it is mostly considered by search engines as 'spamming'.
There are some companies whom you can pay to include links back to your website. This is considered unnatural by Google and you are likely to be heavily penalised for it. We strongly advise against using paid-for links.
The places you link from include many criteria from the search engines to determine how valuable the link is. Some of these criteria are: