Links and Urls
You’ve created content that people are searching for, that answers their questions, and that search engines can understand, but those qualities alone don’t mean it’ll rank. To outrank the rest of the sites with those qualities, you have to establish authority.
That can be accomplished by earning links from authoritative websites, building your brand, and nurturing an audience who will help amplify your content. Google has confirmed that links and quality content are two of the three most important ranking factors for SEO. Trustworthy sites tend to link to other trustworthy sites, and spammy sites tend to link to other spammy sites.
Link building, simply put, is the process of getting other websites to link back to your website. All marketers and business owners should be interested in building links to drive referral traffic and increase their site’s authority.
What Are Links?
Inbound links, also known as backlinks or external links, are HTML hyperlinks that point from one website to another. They’re the currency of the Internet, as they act a lot like real-life reputation. If you went on vacation and asked three people (all completely unrelated to one another) what the best coffee shop in town was, and they all said, “Joe’s Coffee on Main Street,” you would feel confident that Joe’s Coffee is indeed the best coffee place in town. Links do that for search engines.
Internal links, or links that connect internal pages of the same domain, work very similarly for your website. A high amount of internal links pointing to a particular page on your site will provide a signal to Google that the page is important, so long as it’s done naturally and not in a spammy way.
How To Gain Inbound Links
Content Creation & Promotion
Create compelling, unique, high-quality content that people will naturally want to reference and link to, and tell people about it. You have to spread the word before you can expect anyone to find your content and link to it!
Reviews & Mentions
Put your product, service, or site in front of influencers in your industry, such as popular bloggers or people with a large social media following.
Links from Friends & Partners
Ask people you know and people you work with to link to your site. Remember that relevance matters; links from sites that are in the same general industry or niche as your site will have more value than links from random, unrelated sites.
Websites that appeal to a target audience
Make an effort to find those websites that really fit the specific topic of your blog post or article. These websites will probably be very willing to link, as your blog post really fits their content. More importantly, visitors that will come to your website following that link will really be interested in the topic of your article (making chances of conversion and recurring visits much higher).
Create Internal Links
Determine Most important content
In short, it’s your best and most complete content; it’s about the core of your business. It’s the content you want people to find when they’re searching for a topic or products that you specialize in.
Because you want to let Google know that this is your most essential content, you need to add many links to it.
Add contextual links
When you’ve written various articles about a certain topic you should link them with each other. This will show Google – and users – that those articles are topically related. You can link directly from sentences in your copy or add links at the end of your post.
Add navigational links
Besides linking from topically-related posts and pages, it’s possible to make your content more authoritative by adding links to it from the homepage or the top navigation. You should do this with the posts and pages that are most important to your business. This will give these posts or pages a lot of link value and makes them stronger in Google’s eyes.
Find & Fix Broken Links
Broken links on your website can be harmful in two ways:
- They make for a bad user experience – When users click on links and reach dead-end 404 errors, they get frustrated and may never return.
- They devalue your SEO efforts – Broken links restrict the flow of link equity throughout your site, which impacts rankings negatively.
It is definitely not recommended to leave broken links on your site, so it is important that you fix, remove, or replace any of the broken links you find immediately.
Step 1: Identify broken links
Use the Audit report from Spark to identify broken links found on your site.
Step 2: Fix any typos or simple errors
Sometimes, broken links are caused by typos and other simple errors. For example, let’s say you were writing a page and wanted to link to “www.yoursite.com/aboutus” but accidentally typed “http://www.yoursite.com/about-us”.
If you notice any issues like this, go ahead and fix them first. It will only take a few seconds of your time, and may even eliminate a large chunk of your site’s broken links.
Step 3: Set up redirects
In most cases, broken links on your site lead to pages that no longer exist. If you’ve recently deleted or changed the URL of a page, all of the links that used to send users to that page will lead to a 404. This is extremely common for sites that have recently undergone a redesign, and setting up redirects is the fastest way to fix it.
Well optimized URLs are important for both search engine optimization and user experience. Search engines factor many variables into their decision making process and URLs are high on the list. As with page titles, URLs help describe a web page to search engines and potential visitors, meaning they should be accurate, enticing, and well-structured. While many factors should be considered, here are five best practices for creating SEO-friendly URLs.
Describe your Content
A user should be able to make an accurate guess about the content of a web page simply by reading the URL. To accomplish this, a URL should include an accurate phrase or term that pertains to the page content.
Include Keywords in URLs
It is best practice to optimize each web page around one keyword, and this keyword should be included in the URL. It’s also important to put the most important keywords at the beginning of the URL, as search engine spiders do not give as much significance to words toward the end of a URL. Remember though, don’t overuse keywords. Search engines recognize keyword stuffing and will penalize your website for those actions.
Use Hyphens to Separate Words
Using hyphens to separate words in URL phrases is important to both user readability and search engine optimization. Google recommends using hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in URLs because hyphens are treated as spaces between words, while words connected by underscores are viewed as one word.
- Optimized: http://example.com/blog/url-optimization-tips
- Not optimized: http://example.com/blog/url_optimization_tips
Do not use capital letters in your URLs. Search engines can decipher from uppercase and lowercase letters in URLs, which can lead to duplicate URLs and loss of page rank.
- Optimized: http://example.com/blog/url-optimization-tips
- Not optimized: http://example.com/blog/URL-Optimization-Tips
Keep URLs Short
The URL of a web page should be as descriptive and brief as possible. A short URL is quicker to type and read. Also, the fewer the words the more value each word receives from a search engine spider. Too many similar words in a URL can be viewed as keyword stuffing and could result in a drop in search rankings.