With the search engines becoming more discerning every day in their efforts to ferret out purchased links vs. reciprocal links and valuable links vs. random links, the value of links for online businesses is still being questioned. The simple fact remains the same - there is no other tool that offers more ways to get your site noticed on the Internet than good links. That being said, link building is obviously still an incredibly valuable tool that isn't going to fade into the background any time soon.
Links increase ranking. Link building affects where you fall in search engine rankings. Yes, it depends on how good those links are and whether they are reciprocal links, one-way links and dozens of other variations on the theme, but the net result is the same. If others are linking to you, the search engines will sit up and take notice.
Links increase business credibility. If no one else in your industry is linked to you, potential customers will wonder why; conversely, if they keep seeing links to your site on other industry sites they will notice and assume that you must be "somebody." They may follow the link now or later, or they may simply file the information away for future reference, but the name and the credibility will stick.
See increased traffic. Link building leads to traffic, pure and simple, particularly if you have built links from relevant websites. Not all of this traffic will turn into business, but remember that increased traffic will also move you up in the rankings, and better rankings will turn into more business. Are you beginning to see how there's a circular but beneficial pattern to link building?
Of course, you do want to approach a link building campaign with a sound business plan. Some links will be a tremendous asset while others can actually damage your reputation and move you down in the search engine rankings. Be aware of what types of links you should be focusing on for the best value for you business.
Be selective. One of the most common mistakes made is to quickly buy up links in inexpensive, poorly designed directories that will list any and all websites. Search engines recognize these directories, and websites that are listed in these are often penalized. Look for directories that are difficult to get into and strive to meet their criteria; it will be worth it in the long run.
Be selective on your end as well. Take the directory for a test drive. Do all of the links go to active sites? Are the sites well maintained, current and informative? Or are there inactive sites and broken links? What about links to sites that are pornographic or in questionable taste? If the directory features links to websites you would be embarrassed to be associated with, don't pay to list with them.
Be specific, not general. Look for directories that are industry-specific. If you are in the banking industry, be sure to find directories that are specifically focused on banking and money markets. If you are an artist, there are directories for galleries, art studios and other artists that would be of interest.
Content rich sites are great. When linking to other websites, look for sites that have lots of content in the form of articles, how-to's and even surveys. Whenever a link to your site can be embedded within content rather than simply pasted in a "Links" page, it will improve the status of the link. Search engines love links that are integral to content. If you want a link to a great site, offer to provide them some content they could use on their site and include your link in it. Sites are always looking for fresh content.
As you can see, link building can add plenty to the success of your business, so be sure to put some time into constructive linking strategies for your website every week.