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Introduction to Hyper Links

As our first SEO article, we thought we would start at the beginning.
This article could be of particular interest to people who own websites that have been built elsewhere, and who want to find out a little more about why links are important.

Wikipedia has a good brief definition of "hyperlink":
In computing, a hyper link is a reference, link, or navigation element in a document to another section of the same document or to another document that may be on or part of a (different) domain.

The first hyper links allowed users to navigate around a simple, text based web page - and to navigate between simple web pages. The concept is that hyperlinks can "connect one "unit of information" to another "unit of information" over the \'net (To quote Tim Berners Lee).

Two basic kinds of hyper links

There are two very simple links visible in our example video - text links and image links.
The image link shows a thumbnail image, which when clicked, loads the full size image. By visiting this webpage, you have already used hyperlinks - whether they are on this site, another site, search engines, or emails.

The text link example shows simple text hyperlink behavior. Hyperlink text is often formatted differently from the "usual" text on page, and when clicked over simply loads another web page.

Text links, when written in HTML, take the following basic format

a href="something.html">anchor text

Note how the address of the current page changes when clicking links - the address is (often) the destination in a link.

The anchor text is the visible text of the link. Some may describe the destination - or just include click here text.

Hyperlinks can be used to navigate between pages on one website - pages using the same domain. When links connect pages on one website together, we call these Internal links.
Pages can also contain links to external websites - sites with different domains. We call these outgoing links. If a website has links coming into it from elsewhere, we say it has Incoming links.

Why are links important for my site?

We know links provide navigation. Links are also analysed by search engines, and used to help determine a pages popularity.

If website A adds a link to website B, that\'s a vote of confidence for site B. By providing a link to an external site, Site A is potentially saying to visitors (and search engines) site B is worth visiting (for whatever reason).

Google and links

Google takes many web page and site factors into account when determining how well a site will rank for a given phrase. The link structure is one such set of factors.

  • It knows the anchor text of the link and the destination of the link.
  • It also knows where the link is in relation to the rest of the text on the page, and the rest of the text on the page.

Google states in its webmaster guidelines that websites can improve their rankings by having incoming links from high quality sites.

Of course, all webmasters wish for high rankings, and many achieve them by having a good (or great) link profile, with many incoming links from high quality sites.

What is a high quality link?

One definition of high quality in this context would be "related". Links into a website selling soft toys would do well to collect links from other sites related to soft toys - manufacturers, raw material providers, resellers, even competitors.

The most ideal links are from related sites.

Links should also have relevant anchor text - as this is a large factor. 10,000 links coming into a site with the anchor text "click here" may help the target website rank more highly for a search for "click here". Is this optimal use of link text? It makes far more sense to ensure as many links into the site as possible have one of your chosen keywords.

How to collect links

A brief list of some main link collection methods are below:

  • Write quality content for users. A bit of a catch - 22. However, in order to naturally aqquire incoming links, people will require some quality content to link to. Why would the majority choose to vote for poor resources?
  • Reciprocal link exchange. It can be useful to exchange links with other related industries, suppliers etc. This is beyond the scope of this basic introduction, but is basically an agreement between two webmasters to link to each others sites.
  • Submit to free directories. A quick way to achieve a few hundred links - and a tiny amount of traffic. It is possible to rank well for some more niche keywords using this method, and using semi automated submission methods it is quick.
  • Link bait. Again, only useful when you have some traffic. Link baiting is writing articles designed to entice other webmasters to link to you - by creating an excellent resource, an amazingly bad one, one that is funny, unbelieveable, or particularly cutting.
  • Blogs. Commenting in Blogs related to your industry can be a good way to get links to your site. Alternatively, or in conjunction with this, adding a blog to your site and creating link bait articles can be a great way to get incoming links.


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