How many links do I need for SEO?

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Backlinks are one of the key factors of Search Engine Optimisation. If you are not familiar with them, they are simply links from external sites that point to content on your website. Unfortunately, there is no one-size-fits-all rule regarding their use so in this article we are going to briefly look at different ideas on how to them more effectively.

Reputation is everything
In search engine optimisation you’ll often see the terms domain authority and page authority. These refer to the “trustworthiness” of the referring page and domain. Unfortunately, not all links are the same quality and this is a direct measure of how search engines like Google rank their quality.

Let’s consider an example. Imagine that you have a small business that markets gourmet roasted coffee beans. On your website you have a product page for selling coffee beans sourced from Chiapas, Mexico. Now suppose that a page on a website dedicated to selling car air conditioning units links to your page. Yet another link comes from a domain hosting websites associated with lots of spamming and internet pornography. Both of these backlinks will count for very little when your page is ranked because they have low authority.

Now consider a backlink to your page from one of the world’s leading coffee retailers. Clearly, this is going to be a very valuable link. If they have been in business for a longtime they will have earned a good reputation and some of that will rub off on to your website. Tools like Mozilla’s Open Site Explorer can help you explore backlink authority.

Quality, not quantity
You’d expect that the more incoming links you have the higher your search ranking would be but that’s not always the case. Quality is definitely more important than quantity. The best influence you can have over backlinks is to develop relationships with the “movers” or leaders in your niche. For example, using our above example you could contact various websites dedicated to fine coffee and exchange links. In this way you can integrate your site into a network of quality websites and social network groups dedicated to high quality coffee products. This also means you need to ensure that your own content is quality-based. If you aren’t serving professional, informative content you are not going to be relevant.

Know your niche
Part of developing networks is to understand your market. This means dedicating time to learning who your market is and who the leaders are in that niche. You need to identify areas where you can benefit from being referred to. Remember, markets change constantly so regularly see what your competitors are up to. The more relevant your content is to your niche, the more likely you will have others link to you.

Ensure you are using well-chosen keywords
Search engines like Google employ “bots” to automatically index the content of the internet. Keywords are an important factor in how your content is ranked. The higher you are ranked the more easily people will find you, and consequently, link to your content. Google Keyword Planner can help you learn what keywords are popular and relevant.

Website Structure
Websites are organic – this means that content is constantly changing. You’ll want to design your website carefully before you build it so that it is scalable; that is, you can expand your content without needing a drastic redesign.

Whenever you change structure, you risk breaking inbound links and ultimately this will affect your page rankings. Webmasters use 301 redirects to ensure that incoming links are directed to the new location of pages you have moved or renamed. Remember, the longer your pages have been online the greater the number of incoming links that will refer to them. Make structure changes sparingly!

Also consider signing up for a service that automatically emails you when links on your site go dead. Although this will only highlight your attention to outgoing links not incoming links, Google’s search algorithms don’t look kindly on broken links so this will allow you to update the links immediately before Google penalises you.

It takes time
Domain and page authority takes time to develop, just like reputation in the real world. If you’ve added new content it could take anywhere between three months and a year for your content to be indexed and achieve good rankings—even with lots of quality backlinks to your content! Be patient and employ long-term strategies.

Develop your own links
Finally, if you’re marketing products or services you’ll need to have a variety of difference platforms to enhance your online presence. This will almost certainly include social network profiles like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram among others. In your social media posts and profiles make sure you link to the products and services on your main website. In this way you can develop your own relevant, quality backlinks.

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Click here and see 5 more great reads from our digital expert Luke Chaffey:
1. What is seasonal marketing?
2. How to avoid 4 common SEO issues
3. 7 social media tactics you need to avoid
4. How to get and retain email subscribers  
5. Improve your ecommerce conversion rate

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Luke Chaffey
Luke Chaffey is a senior member of the KBB Digital team, and heads up the search marketing division. With a keen eye on innovation and developing digital trends, Luke regularly attends the Google Partners Masterclass, and is also a prolific writer for websites such as Yahoo, The Australian Government (Digital Business sector), Kochie’s Business Builders, Smarter.Digital, KBB Digital.

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