Most web-savvy people quickly learn why they need “links” from other sites pointing at theirs. Your inbound links are one of the most important ways of getting yourself known in your field, generating traffic to your website, and influencing the search engines to notice your site.
“Traffic” is what linking is all about. Without traffic your website is useless as a tool for selling your products or communicating your ideas. Getting links from other websites is not the only way to generate traffic, but it is probably the most important one.
But how do links generate traffic?
**Direct traffic from links**
First, links generate direct traffic. Links from sites that share your target audience will be an important source of traffic to your site. A visitor to the other web site sees the link to yours, clicks on it, and becomes your visitor. Some estimates put the percentage of internet traffic resulting from this kind of link as high as 21% of total traffic.
Why do people click on these links? One reason is they may view a link to an outside source as an endorsement. They assume the webmaster is saying “Here is a source you will find interesting or helpful”. They are looking for the kind of service you provide, so they click on the link to check you out.
But just as important is simple curiosity. Someone sees a text link with intriguing wording like “Powerful Cheap Advertising” or “Win a Free iPod” or “See Pamela Anderson Video” and, depending on their interests, a certain number of people are likely to click on it.
This suggests at least three things about your links. First, you should get as many links as possible on pages your target audience is likely to be visiting. The more people see your links, the more traffic you are likely to get.
Second, your anchor text (the words that are linked) should be intriguing. It should be short and sweet, and suggest a benefit — a reason for people to click on it.
Third, your links should be on pages that people actually look at. Having hundreds of links on pages that nobody ever looks at will not result in traffic — at least not direct traffic. Putting your link on a link exchange page containing hundreds of services similar to yours is not likely to generate very many clicks. This is why exchanging links with link directories is such a questionable waste of time. Web visitors rarely look at these directories.
Finding good pages where you can place your link is not always easy. One method is to systematically do searches for your most important keywords — the search phrases people are likely to use when looking for your kind of product or service. Many of the results will be competitors of yours. But one or two may be secondary sources such as directories or reference pages. Getting your link on some of these secondary sources is almost guaranteed to result in traffic, so it is worth the effort — and sometimes the cost — of getting listed in the resources that score high for your keywords.
**Traffic from Search Engines**
The second reason for getting inbound links is to impress the search engines. Most search engines use the quantity and quality of your inbound links to evaluate the importance and relevance of your site to specific keywords. For instance, if you sell a product like “Full Color Vinyl Banners”, or you are a Real Estate agent servicing “Kitchener Real Estate”, one of your objectives is to rank high for searches done on your primary search phrase (and other similar ones).
This will result in traffic because when people search for your important keywords your site is more likely to show up in the search results. The more inbound links you have that relate your site to full color vinyl banners or web promotion services, or “fill in your keyword here”, the higher your site is likely to rank for these terms, and the more search engine traffic you are likely to receive as a result.
**Using Articles to get traffic and impress the search engines**
Embedding your links in articles is one of the best methods of rapidly increasing your inbound links. Many times a well-written article will show up in hundreds of places on the web. And if it has your link embedded in it, that will obviously increase your inbound links. Webmasters pick up these articles because they want content to enhance the value of their sites.
Articles will also generate direct traffic because people who read them are already interested in your subject matter, and are therefore more likely to click on your link.
This suggests that the most valuable place to publish your article is in a themed or categorized article resource. For instance, if your product is “health” related, having it published on health-oriented sites will be more valuable than having it published on generic sites.
You can even take this a step further. If your article is about something more specific like “mesothelioma advice”, then getting it published on sites that focus on “mesothelioma” will get more “reads”, and have a greater influence on the search engines.
Second, when embedding your link, try to use anchor text that contains one of your important keywords, not just your URL or web address. Remember that search engines are dumb. One of your objectives is to have them relate your website to specific search terms (keywords or key phrases). And the best way to do that is to use them as your anchor text.