Google has admitted that content and links are still the two most important ranking factors when it comes to ranking pages in their algorithm. However, links are important for more than just their SEO benefit.
In the past few years, more naysayers have been claiming that links have no importance in ranking and it’s obvious that they still do and likely will for years to come.
They Drive Traffic
First and foremost, links are designed to allow users to navigate the internet quickly. Believe it or not, search engines haven’t existed forever, and in the time before them, you’d be reliant on directories and links to navigate between websites.
These days even us digital marketers forget that links are the most basic form of marketing. In the same way that large brands use people to hand out flyers and point people into their shops, websites need to build links to create pathways to their websites.
If your link is on a page, then it’s going to drive some traffic, period. It might be a tiny amount, or it might be a massive flood that crashes your server.
If you’ve ever been on the front page of Reddit, then you’ll know that a single link can drive hundreds of thousands of visits in a single day. That’s likely more than your business has received in its lifetime.
While small links like blog comments and forum posts are often disregarded by digital marketers because the SEO benefit is low, they can drive plenty of traffic. SEO should only be a part of your online strategy, and your goal should be to drive traffic and therefore revenue in whatever way possible.
You’re not picky about who gives you cash, and you shouldn’t be picky about where your traffic comes from.
Leaving links all around the web will drive traffic to your website, and once you’ve built a bunch of links on different websites, those little streams of traffic will add up into a large river.
This can be so significant that many small businesses receive a majority of their sales from the little trickles of traffic that come from the links they leave around the internet.
Of course, the main reason that most of us worry about backlinks is that of the SEO benefit. In short, links are treated by search engines like Google and Yahoo as small votes of confidence by other websites in your company.
This means that Google itself is essentially a popularity judge and aims to rank highest the most popular content. They try and avoid judging themselves what they think the most valuable and useful content is. Instead, they leave it up to users to decide via links and user metrics like time-on-site and bounce rate.
By building more links to your website, you’ll be able to increase the rankings of your website and therefore drive more organic traffic from the search engines.
The great part about this organic traffic is that it’s extremely targeted. People are searching for particular terms and queries, and then receiving results based upon it. This means that the individual who finds your website through a search engine is often much more willing to buy.
The benefit of links is thought to work in two ways; firstly, links count as an advantage for your entire website. This means that a link to any page on your site will benefit the entire site, improving its ‘authority’ and making it more likely to rank.
Secondly, links will have the largest impact on the page that they point to. This means that the page that you want to rank should have links pointing directly to it.
Knowing the benefits of organic search traffic, it should be clear that links are extremely important just because they can increase the amount of organic traffic that your page receives.
Finally, brand awareness is an overlooked and underrated metric that many small businesses think only applies to large brands. The truth is that many consumers purchase based upon the brands that are already in their minds.
For example; we buy coffee from Starbucks because we see them everywhere, they have high brand awareness, and we are resistant to change.
By building links around the web, you are creating extra visibility. In the same way that you would purchase banner ads on a website, building links on these sites is just one more way for viewers to see your brand name and keep it in their mind.
This style of marketing is a long term plan because it’s unlikely that they’ll purchase right away. However, when the time comes for them to buy a product that you sell, you’ll be the first brand that comes to their mind.
Brand awareness isn’t just for large companies, and it certainly isn’t exclusive to offline brands. Instead, it’s a pivotal part of digital marketing and should be one of the many reasons why you choose to build links through outreach and content marketing.
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