Imagine it's a hundred years in the future and you are sitting down reading a reference book of some sort studying for a test. As you read the book you come across words that you are not familiar with and would like more information about. Wouldn't it be great if you could just touch the word on the page and suddenly the book in your hand changed (momentarily) to a book about that subject. Basically, all the information in the world was linked together where you could touch it with your fingers tips.
We are not there yet, but we are getting pretty close. These days we have the Internet (something that the public had for the most part never used 20 years ago) which has over 3 billion websites (books) on it. As we read these websites some of the pages have little blue words we can click on to either go to another page of that website for information or even another website altogether. It's these little blue words that truly make the Internet what it is.
But it gets even better. On some websites there are pictures, graphs and buttons that we can click to get more information. In just 20 years these little blue words have changed our ability to gather information and thus have changed the way we gather information (Have you actually used a paper phone book, dictionary or encyclopedia in the last few years?) and our world. The technical name for these little blue words is "hyperlinks". Links for short.
Types of Links
Internal Links are links going from one page of a website to another.
External Links are links going from one website to a completely separate website.
Outbound links (same as external links)
Reciprocal Links refers to when two websites are linking back and forth to each other. Often referred to as "trading links".
NonReciprocal Links refers to when a website links to another website, but there is no link from the second website to the first.
Broken Links are links that when you click them say, "Page Not Found".
Internal links are a major key to getting your website to rank in the search engines and also getting people to visit as many pages of your website as possible. However, some of them are worth a lot more to the search engines than others. For instance Google likes to read the words associated with the links. If the text in your link says "Click Here" Google may assume your website is about "Click Here". If your link says "read more" then Google may assume your website is about "read more". Obviously you don't want to happen. And so it is much better to create links that include your important keywords. For instance if you are a real estate agent you may want your link to say something like "Real estate listings in Naples, Florida". Another thing to keep in mind is that text links are worth many more points to Google than links on graphics. This is because Google cannot read the words on the graphic and so it has no idea what the graphic link is referring too. Or more to the point, Google does not trust graphic links nearly as much as text links. So use text with your keywords whenever possible. That includes the buttons used to navigate on your website.
External links have advantages as well as disadvantages. One advantage is being able to let the visitors of your website find relevant material on someone else's website rather than having to write it all yourself. This helps make your website a better source of information. Another factor is that Google prefers websites that link to "quality sources of information relating to the text on your site". For instance a link here or there to Wikipedia (definitions) or a website with similar content as your own can help increase your rankings. If for instance your website is about truck tires it would be a good idea to link to websites that talk about tire safety. On the other hand if you are selling tires it would NOT be a good idea to link to a restaurant. The reason being is the two subjects are not related (don't contain any of the same words) and so Google wonders about your motivations in putting the link there in the first place. One other factor is that you only want to do a few external links "here and there" in your website as part of the information (text) on the website rather than out a huge number or list. Links from your website reduce the PR (Power) of your website. So the best way to do it is simply to link to other sites when they can provide additional information that is not on your website and skip anything that might be considered cheating.
If you have ever gone on a job interview you understand the value of being able to show prospective employers good letters of recommendation. The key to getting the job is that they are good letters of recommendation. For instance if you are applying for the position as head of a law firm a letter of recommendation from McDonald's might not be a big help. For that matter if you are looking for a job as a hamburger flipper a letter of recommendation from a law firm may not be quite relevant either. What you need if you want to work in a restaurant is a letter of recommendation from other restaurants. If you want to be head of a law firm you need letters of recommendations from other law firms and lawyers.
Your website is looking for a job. The job is to become the sales representative for your company selling your products and services to people on the Internet. But you are not the employer. Google is. Yahoo is. Bing is. Etc. And they are not going to give your website a very good job if it does not have "good" recommendations.
On the Internet recommendations are in the form of links from other people's websites to your website. And there is a big quality difference between a good link and a weak one. For instance in your website is about "Lawyers in Florida" then links from the websites for McDonald's, Burger King and McDonald's are not going to be of much value. The reason being is that the content of these websites is not relevant to the content of your website. Your website is about "lawyers" and theirs is about "hamburgers". What you really need are links from other lawyers websites. Links from websites with "related content" are worth far more than those with unrelated content.
Some websites linking to you are worth more points than others too. For instance your friend Bob's website (if Google has found the page on it with your link at all) is worth about 1 point. A link from an advertisement (if counted at all) is worth 1 point. If the advertisement is on a page of the website related to your website content the link might be worth 2 points. A good quality website that has content related to the content on your website is worth about 3 points. A link from a local newspaper or government website is worth about 4 points. National newspapers, federal government sites and major websites are worth between 5 to 6 points.
Then there are the most important sites of all. Links from a search engine to your website (while it may not show up on a list anyplace) can be worth anywhere from 3 points (small search engines) to 7 points (Yahoo). And as good as the points from search engines are, the points for appearing in directories are even better. Because Google can't see your pictures, colors, graphics, etc... it relies heavily on whether or not your website gets approved by directories for their opinion of your site. For instance a link from DMOZ.org is probably worth between 6 to 10 points.
So, rather than waste your time asking friends to link to you, write good content that people will want to point links on their websites too... And then submit your website to every search engine and directory on the Internet. The quality of your website will determine whether your website gets listed or not. So build the best source of information possible and make the website easy to navigate.
Reciprocal Links Can Get Your Website Banned
If you have a website that is doing well in the search engines you will start to get emails from other website owners asking you to trade links with you. You link to their website. They will link to your website. It sounds like a good idea and a fair trade. And it can also get your website banned from Google and all the other search engines.
If you own a website what you sell is cows it makes sense that you would link to websites that are about cow health, raising cows, meat processing, etc. Each of these websites would somewhere in their text have the word cows. So that makes sense to people and also to Google. But if you link to a car dealer, whose website does not have the word cows in the text, it will not make sense to humans or Google. Google thinks "maybe" you are cheating. To make it worse now Google finds out that the car dealers website is linking to yours. Now Google "knows" you are cheating.
Google understands we all have friends and so it let's get away with a small percentage of reciprocal links that have unrelated content (cheating) but the software also has a threshold. Let's say for example it's 20% of the total links to and from your site. If more than 20% of the links on your website are reciprocal and go to unrelated content Google can ban your website. Yes, I said BAN YOUR WEBSITE.
So imagine your cow factory is doing great. You are now number one in the world for everything related to selling cows. You are making a million dollars a day. You have taken out a huge loan to cover new tracts of grazing land, processing plants, limos, a giant new house and have hired thousands of workers. Awesome! Until one day Google finds you are cheating. Either by finding it on your site. Or by catching one of the websites that is trading links with you. One minute you are number one and have orders for a thousand cows a day. The next minute Google bans you. Now you have orders for two cows a day. Your payment on the loan is due tomorrow. If you do not make the payment you are out of business. You lose your house, your business, your cars, your friends and even your kids won't talk to you because you can't afford to take them out for ice cream. Life sucks. And yes, while the number of dollars a day maybe different than your situation, and you sell a different product, losing all your income from your website in a single day still sucks.
Google is working on newer and better software to track down and punish people who cheat by having reciprocal links on their websites, join up with link farms and engage in other forms of link cheating. Our advice is to build a quality website that contains good information that people will want to link to, optimize it to perfection, then submit it to every search engine and directory on the Internet (These links count as inbound links) but never, and we mean never, link to a website unless it adds value for the visitors on your website.
There is nothing more irritating that going to a website where half the graphics are missing and when you click the links a message comes up saying, "Page Not Found". Missing graphics are caused by broken links to the image file. The message Page Not Found comes up because the url (address) the link is pointing is no longer valid.
If you would not recommend a book with many of it's pages missing, then it's pretty easy for you to understand why Google will not recommend your website if it has broken links. And guess what... Links break all the time... For instance you may be linking to a website for a company that goes out of business. In another instance you are linking to a website which has just been replaced with a newer version and all the page addresses were changed by the new website company.
Basically, if your website company is not checking your website for broken links every few weeks and fixing any broken ones your website could fall down in the rankings over time. You could go from number one to somewhere on page fifty over time. And as your rankings fall so do your profits.
Our company policy is that we check all our clients websites for broken links every two weeks and that we fix them free of charge. What does your website company do for you?
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