What was the last link you added to your pet sitting website?
Some pet sitters will exchange links with non-competing pet sitters to help visitors find appropriate resources.
Others may partner with a veterinarian office, animal hospital or groomer and place a link to their website.
The decision to place a link from your website to another website should be considered carefully.
Without a complete and full understanding of how Google and the other search engines determine the relevancy of your links, you could be doing more harm than good.
You also don’t want to lose sight of the main purpose of your website: to educate your visitor with enough information that she can’t wait to get the ball rolling with you.
Every link on your website to an outside website is another opportunity for your visitor to leave. But that is not even the worst possible scenario that could happen.
Why Place Links In The First Place?
The Internet is, of course, called the World Wide Web. And it’s that web of links from one page to another, and one site to another, that make things go round.
Yet, links to other websites should be placed for reasons that add value to your visitor.
If you feel that a link to an appropriate business, service, tool or resource will benefit your website visitor, then by all means, add a link to that page.
If you feel that adding a link might distract your visitor from your site’s purpose, OR you want to exchange or place a link for an SEO benefit, you should think carefully.
When people talk about link building as a strategy for SEO, things can get a bit out of hand.
Aren’t Links Good?
Yes, Google does weigh the amount of incoming links pointing to a specific web page to help determine its value.
Naturally, it makes sense that if many websites have a link pointing to your amazing pet sitting business, Google will take notice.
That is good ol’ outside validation. Google believes if all these sites are linking to your site, something about it must be good.
However, Google also does consider the reputation of each site linking to you.
For example, if you have 30 of your friends with a website place a link to your site, and their sites are either unrelated to yours (yes, Google can tell) or your friends’ sites are not reputable in the eyes of Goolge, it won’t do much to help your cause.
If, on the other hand, you can get local businesses, popular bloggers or the New York Times to write about your site and place a link in the article, you’d be heading in the right direction.
What About Link Exchanges?
A link exchange is simply two websites that decide to place a link to each other’s site from their site.
The concept seems to make sense, but again, Google can tell if Site A links to Site B, and Site B to Site A, and quickly adjusts the value of each link.
You’d be best to spend the time working with a fellow site owner to exchange links writing an article or otherwise adding valuable content to your pages.
What About Selling Links or Buying Links?
It’s pretty common for a business owner to get approached by a random person asking if they could pay to have their link on your page.
It sounds perfect. You make a little extra cash out of the deal, and no one is harmed in the making, right?
Because the person approaching you for a paid link on your site is doing this in the hopes of increasing their PageRank and search engine placement for specific keywords, they will request you place a link to their site using a specific anchor text.
What Is Anchor Text?
Anchor Text is the words used to link to any given web page.
In this example: Visit APSE for lots of free pet sitting articles
Free pet sitting articles is the anchor text.
Anchor text is important when it comes to SEO because Google considers the anchor text used in links as one element in evaluating what the linked web page is about.
In my example, if the anchor text ‘free pet sitting articles’ leads to our APSE blog, Google will acknowledge that key phrase and potentially reward us in the search results if someone searches for ‘free pet sitting articles.’
The Best Piece of SEO Advice
The first rule of thumb when deciding whether or not to add someone’s link to your page (whether exchanged, or not) is to ask yourself this question:
“How will adding this link to my web page ADD VALUE TO MY VISITOR?”
If your answer is anything besides “I’m adding this link to help with SEO and search engine rankings” you’re fine.
The final piece of SEO I could give is the same piece of advice I follow with every site I build:
Spend your time and energy creating wonderful, valuable content for your visitor and everything else will fall into place. Period.
Do you agree or disagree with this article? I’d love to hear your thoughts in a comment below!
Image Credit: Profound Whatever