Do links matter to your business?do links matter

Well….do they?

If they matter, do you know who is currently linking to your website? What websites are linking to your competitors’ sites? Wouldn’t this be useful information for your business?

In my daily duties as an Executive in Sweatpants, I spend time answering questions like these. For those of you who haven’t read my book yet, I’m a freelance marketing consultant. Since many of my clients (past, present, and future) read this blog, I thought it would be worthwhile to write a series about link building.

(To receive future articles in this series as they become available, subscribe for free to my newsletter.)

In this first post, I’ll share my personal opinion about link building. In later posts, I’ll go into greater detail about how to build high quality links (without getting too overwhelmed).

Here goes.

Why Links Matter (Explained in Simple Terms)

Imagine that it’s not 2016, but rather it’s 1986 (thirty years ago). You just accepted a new job and are preparing to move your family halfway across the country. You don’t know anyone in the new city yet, but you need to start evaluating school districts for your children.

How would you go about doing this research?

Obviously the Internet isn’t invented yet, so that’s not an option. You might consider visiting your local library to check out a book on the subject. Or, you might pick up the phone and call your new employer to see if anyone there has a recommendation. You could also consider contacting the Department of Education or a local subsidiary for more information. You might even consider calling the community’s local newspaper to see if they have any recent articles on the subject. Needless to say, in 1986, it was a lot of work to do this type of research.

So, what does this example have to do with link building and the Internet?

Think about your approach to conducting this research. Sure, you could just call up the school districts and they would tell you how great they are. But, in actuality, you’d likely be no better off than before you did the research. Instead, you gave preference to independent, non-biased sources that have credibility on the matter.

In my opinion, this is similar to how search engines view links to your website.

Quality Links Add Credibility with Search Engines

Most entrepreneurs want their businesses to “show up” on the major search engines. How does this happen? From a very basic standpoint, I believe it comes down to a myriad of factors, which includes:

  1. Implementing a well-structured website (fast, secure, mobile-friendly, etc.)
  2. Developing keyword-focused, yet highly compelling content
  3. Providing a meaningful experience to visitors
  4. Building quality inbound links

Point #4 is what we’re really focusing on in this series (perhaps #1, 2, and 3 can serve as another later series).

Obviously, the search engines aren’t just going to start “showing” your website to visitors simply because your website exists. In fact, I’ve seen certain niches that are so competitive that #1, 2, and 3 are a formality, and the competitive difference comes down to inbound links.

Why is this so?

Search engines are in the business of providing a meaningful experience to their own “customers” – i.e., those people who chose to use their services (albeit usually free). From the search engine’s perspective, it would be very risky to begin recommending websites that no one else on the Internet is linking to. Why should the search engine take the risk that your website is going to provide an unfavorable experience?

It is therefore my opinion that quality inbound links serve as a way for search engines to measure a website’s seriousness, quality, and value to their users.

So, How Do You Get More Links?

We’ve established that links are important to your business. The next logical question is, “How can I get more inbound links to my website?”

Stay tuned for additional posts in this link building series. I’d invite you to subscribe to my free newsletter.

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Written by Matt Keener

Matt Keener is the original "Executive in Sweatpants," having built a successful online consulting business (from home). His best-selling book offers tips for capitalizing on outsourcing and freelancing. Matt holds an MBA and has been featured by many recognizable brands, including Upwork (formerly oDesk), Elance, Insightly, the Dave Ramsey Show, and Entrepreneur.com.

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