More and more people are aware of the importance of optimizing their website. Choose some keywords, use them in the Title and meta tags, use them on the page, and voila! Except a lot of the time the voila ends up being more like the sound of crickets as nothing happens. No new traffic. No great rankings.
Vinny’s Italian Cuisine
In 1980, a man named Vinny decided to start an Italian restaurant. So, he found a building to rent on the outskirts of town. He came up with a name “Vinny’s Italian Cuisine”, he put together a menu with various Italian dishes, and he even decorated his restaurant with old items he found in Italy. Then he sat…and waited…and waited…
What went wrong? He used an Italian name. He had a bunch of Italian things?
When you are on the outskirts of town, you need to get people to come to you. When you are new, you need to make people aware of you. Vinny needed to get the word out about his restaurant. So, what could he have done? (remember this is 1980, so think offline)
What Could Vinny Have Done?
At the very least our intrepid restauranteur could have gotten listed in the phone book. He could have gone around town and asked people to put signs in their yards and in front of their businesses. He could have had a grand opening celebration where he gave out free stuff and let people try his food for free. He could have invited food critics to try his food and write about the restaurant. He could have told reporters at the local newspaper and invited them to his restaurant. I’m sure the list could go on.
So, what does all this have to do with why SEO is not producing the results you’d hoped for?
Every website starts just like that little building in the outskirts of town. On the web, all new websites are in the middle of nowhere. The search engines don’t even know you exist. So, you have to find a way to bring the search engines to your site just so they know you are there. That can get you listed, but not ranked well. Once a search engines know you are there, they need to be convinced to recommend you to the people searching. The search engines, however, aren’t very smart. While they can figure out what your site is about by visiting it, they can’t determine whether your site is any good. So, for that, they look to other websites. They look for inbound links to websites.
An inbound link (also called a backlink) is simply when a site links to your website. For example, here is a link to OurChurch.Com. That would be considered an inbound link for OurChurch.Com.
Getting Listed in the Search Engines
When your website is new, in order for the search engines to find you, they need to find inbound links to your site on another site they already know about. So, if the search engines know about Site A, but not Site B. If Site A puts a link on their site to Site B, the search engines will find that link and discover Site B. So, at the very least, some links are needed just for the search engines to list your website. But you don’t have good rankings yet.
Getting High Rankings
Even if you have a well optimized site, that alone won’t cause the search engines to rank you well for the keyword you want. The search engines look to other sites to see how popular and trusted your site is. The more sites that link to your site, the more popular you appear. If well established and trusted sites link to your website, then the search engines will trust your site as well.
And just like in the real world where some people’s opinions on a subject are more impactful than others, so on the web, some websites links are worth more than others. If a really popular site that is considered an authority in your field links to you, that’s much more valuable than if some other brand new site that has no relevance to your field links to you.
You Need to Be Building Links Now
In order for you to rank well, you need inbound links in addition to on-page optimization. As you get more links, especially from other popular, established, and trusted sites, your rankings will go up because the search engines will consider your site to be more popular and trusted. There are lots of things you can do get other sites to link to you. Entire books have been written about link building. My point today is not to be an exhaustive resource on link building, but rather I hope to convince you that you need to be thinking about getting links to your website, especially if you have a newer site.
If you’ve done some optimization on your website, but aren’t getting the traffic that you hoped for, start thinking about ways to build links to your website. Even if you are getting decent results from your on-page optimization, I’ll bet there are really popular keywords you would still love to rank well for. Again, link building is how you can get those high rankings. Also, keep in mind that rankings are determined by comparing your site to other sites. So, if other sites are link building now and you aren’t, then you are falling further and further behind the longer you wait to get started.
Are you actively building links to your website? If so, tell us about it.
- What effects have you seen from the link building you’ve done?
- What link building strategies have you found to be most effective?
- What link building strategies to you think should be avoided?
- Are you thinking about link building, but aren’t sure what to do or where to start? Ask some questions below.