There are millions of websites, all competing for the clicks of potential customers. Those clicks come in from a number of places – a customer might see a billboard advertising a product’s website, or click through on a link from another site. But the overwhelming majority of visitors to a site will usually come straight from natural website results. People search for terms that are relevant to your site or product, and then choose to click through on those results to your website, or to a competitor’s.
Research continues to show that the higher up the search engine rankings a site appears, the higher chance of a searcher clicking through to the site. As your ranking improves, so does your site traffic. The difference between even third and fourth place in the rankings can make or break an online business.
So how do the search engines decide the order in which sites appear in the results? Few people know for sure, but from tests and information leaked from the major search engines we know results are determined from a wide range of site metrics. These include the content on your site, the domain name, the age of the site, and the relevancy of the site contents to the search query. Many of these items can be ‘gamed’ though, allowing sites to quickly rise the ranks without merit. This is one reason that incoming links to your site are given a very high importance to its search engine rank.
Incoming links are links on other sites to your site. This metric is more reliable in search engines’ eyes, because it is much harder to manipulate another person’s site. If a link appears on the BBC home page, linking to your website with the term ‘binoculars’ in the anchor text, search engines can see that a highly respected site believes your website is worth linking to for the topic ‘binoculars’.
Not all links are created equal; therefore some link builders will spend months trying to get one strong link from a big, important, relevant site. Another link-building tactic would be to try to get thousands of links from smaller sites, which are presumably easier to get than a link on a highly prestigious site.
Once you realize the importance of relevant incoming links to the success of your website, you will understand the need to engage in link building and how a professional ongoing link building campaign is paramount to the success of your website.