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Should I have links on my website?

I am regularly adding articles about search engine optimisation and giving as many tips as I can. I do this in the belief that optimising your website for the search engines is about doing hundreds of little things right rather than just one or two big things.

However, not all "things" are equal and I thought it would be worthwhile to share my views on the importance of links on your website. Get this right and you could find yourself on page one of Google for your chosen key phrase(s), get this wrong and you could find yourself languising lower than page 2 (if you are on page 3, you may as well be on page 10,000 for all the good it will do you).

Actually, that is not really true:

OK, let me meander off for a moment in Ronnie Corbett style and explain what I mean by this. There is in fact something useful to being on page 3 or lower on Google. Obviously not for traffic to your site today, but keeping an eye on this position could be vital to web traffic in the future. For example, if you are on page 3 and you have gradulaly moved there from page 26 over the last few weeks, it is a very clear indicator that whatever you are doing on your website is obviously working. SO if this is the case, keep up the good work and continue.

Back to the subject in hand - Inbound and Outbound Links

First of all, it is important to know the difference between an inbound and an outbound link. Inbound links are other websites that have links to your website. Google sees each one as a vote for your site and the more that you have, the higher up you appear in the results pages. If these inbound links are from very popular and well respected sites such as the BBC, then each link can be worth many hundreds of other less important links. Outbound links are the links on your website that link to other websites. Be careful not to have too many, especially on the home page, as this could lower your position in the results pages.

Many of my clients have asked me to add a links page to their website because they have heard that "you can get onto page one of Google by putting links on your website". Whilst this is not strictly true (inbound links are far more important), Google will respect your site if it contains outbound links in context of subject matter to authoritative sites relating to the key words you use to link through.

Beware of link exchanging

It also pays to be careful with link exchanges. If links are exchanged simply for the sake of it, then Google are fast lowering results for websites that engage in such practices. So only exchange links with a website if it is of benefit to the visitors of both websites for each to see the other.

In conclusion...

So the answer is whilst it is not essential to have links on your website, sensible links in context to sensible sites will help a little. However, inbound links can make a big difference if handled correctly.

Wed 25 May 2011 13:34:36

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