- Posted by Nigel Edelshain
- On June 5, 2017
Inbound links are still a significant factor in where your website ranks on Google search results.
According to the latest data from Moz links account for about 17% of your “Google Juice”, meaning the way Google sees how to rank your website in search results.
Most local business owners I speak to don’t understand links that well and certainly don’t know how to get links that will drive their site to the top of local search results in their niche. This post gives a brief explanation of both these points.
Why links matter
Moz conducts an annual survey of SEO consultants to find out which factors they see as driving local rankings. The results of this research are the closest we have to actually revealing how Google’s algorithm works.
In it’s latest research Moz found that link building accounted for about 17% of the reason a site ranks in search for a particular keyword. Placing as the second most important factor after your “Google My Business” entry (Google’s own directory for local businesses.) Clearly links are important to ranking.
Inbound not outbound
A common misconception when I talk to local business owners is distinguishing between in bound and outbound links. The links that we are talking about here are inbound links. Outbound links have virtually no SEO benefit.
An inbound link is a link from another website to yours. I like to visualize it like an arrow pointing from another to yours. It is essentially a “signpost” on another site that says “hey reader, look at this other website, there’s some interesting information over there”. This kind of pointing to Google is like a “vote of confidence” in your site and means Google wants to rank your site near the top of search results.
Quality vs. quantity
Google ranks your site nearer the top of the search results if it has good/large number of quality inbound links. As we everything in SEO we don’t know exactly how Google’s algorithm weights quantity of links versus quality.
Overall SEO experts are leaning towards quality vs. quantity. Google’s driving force is to point searchers to the best information possible. Google most likely thinks links from high quality sites are more thoughtful then dozens or hundreds of links from sites of low important. These low importance sites could even be spammy.
Content is king
Content is king when it comes to link building but the reality is that the Internet is now a competitive place even for local businesses so the content we need for link building needs to be a notch above the ordinary.
- Premium content: Well-produced “premium content” like ebooks can garner a good number of inbound links from relevant sources. Ebooks do not need to be super long but do need to provide some new data or insightful ideas or analysis.
- Infographics: people do love images on the Internet. Many firms have had success using infographics to build links, in part because infographics are using shared with code that includes an embedded link so each time someone uses your image you automatically get an inbound link.
- “Skyscraper” content: “Skyscraper content” is a term created by Backlinko. The concept is to build web pages (or blog pages) that are the best in their niche. You can achieve this in a less-daunting manner by combing content you already have and updating the page over time until eventually your page is the best resource in its niche period.
- Research: Primary research always seems to be in short supply and people creating content elsewhere seem to always want to link to it. If you have the resources (or can partner with someone to achieve it) conducting research is always likely to draw inbound links.
But you have to ask
Just like most business creating great content will not on its own build you lots of great backlinks (although it may build you some). To get some of the backlinks you really want you will need to reach out to some human beings and ask.
Here are some situations where it’s easier to reach out for a link:
- Already linking to people like you: sites that already link to resources and companies like you are likely to link to you. There are a number of tools to help you do this
- Already mentions you, but no link: Sometimes your company or your product or you are mentioned on a site but the site webmaster as not used a hyperlink to link to you. In this case you can reach out to them and ask that they include a link. You can find these mentions using Google.
- Broken links: You can check sites in your industry that you may want to get a link from for broken links. If you find broken links you can suggest linking to your site instead of the broken link.
- Directories/resource lists: Some websites keep lists of useful resources. These lists usually hyperlink to the relevant web page. If you feel you may bring value to their resource list you can ask that your site be added to this list with a link.
- Chamber of commerce/media: Most chambers keep lists of their members. Many media sites keep resource lists. If you are a member of this chamber or in the local area of a local media site ask to be added to any relevant lists, including a link.
Time is money
As you can tell by the suggested activities above this kind of work takes a bunch of time. This is often where local businesses fall down. They have great intentions but they cannot execute on this amount of work while still running their existing business.
Having a great Google ranking is becoming more and more critical to business of all types to drive sales. Investing in some help to get these link building projects completed may turn out to have a great ROI for your business.