Every time I log in to my WordPress admin panel to write a post or take care of a site admin task, I see a little box in my dashboard about my site’s links.
It’s from a handy WP plugin (Broken Link Checker) that verifies all of the links on my site and lets me know if any are broken. I’m mainly interested in the incoming links, since I don’t often change the link structure of my own site, but it’s always a good thing to stay on top of.
It’s also good from an SEO perspective. Broken links can lead to a decrease in inbound traffic, so I always want to know how I’m doing.
Ask any SEO wizard and they’ll tell you that inbound backlinks are the single most important objective to getting high rankings in SERPs. (Those are inbound links from other sites.) That’s why all the online marketing folks talk about guest blogging and commenting. Those inbound links are a difficult metric to manipulate, which is why search engines give them a lot of weight when determining the popularity of web pages and sites.
What’s the big deal with inbound links?
The big deal with inbound links is that they’re a good indicator of relevancy and popularity of a web page.
- Inbound links from social media messages signal that many other people think the page is valuable and full of good information.
- Inbound links from two sites that aren’t owned by the same person/entity are an even better signal, since that means there’s no collusion going on and the link is genuine.
- Inbound links from multiple web pages and sites show that the site is popular; multiple links from trustworthy sites increases this factor even more.
Simply put, inbound links to a web page are a signal that the info is good, the site is trustworthy and is possibly an authority on the topic. Search engines (specifically Google) put a lot of stock into the notion of authority when weighting web pages on SERPs.
It starts as a numbers game
Search engines first look at the number of links to a single web page, and then cast their net wider, looking at the number of domains that link to that page. This is why having multiple inbound links from a variety of places is good, but multiples from multiple inbound places is even better.
Wait, that was a bit too confusing. What I’m talking about is having multiple inbound links coming from a wide variety of quality sites, not just one or two from the same site.
Why do numbers matter?
Normally traffic and other related numbers are buried in private server logs and databases owned by the website owner. External links are publicly visible and easily stored by services that are accessible by the public.
Line up your numbers correctly
So, after all this tech talk about search engine results pages, rankings, inbound links, and analytics, what does that mean to you, the website owner?
Simple: ensure that your backlinks are always up and running, driving traffic to your site.
Check your backlinks for free
- Open Site Explorer from Moz
- Monitor Backlinks
- Rank Signals
- Back Link Checker WordPress plugin