How can links help my SEO efforts?
It’s been mentioned elsewhere that search engines can only determine relevance through a website’s text. Beyond that, search engines are blind to all other efforts by site owners to create beautiful websites. Complicated Flash animations don’t get search engine’s attention. Beautiful photographs or illustrations won’t cut it either. Text is the only thing that registers with them—except links.
Why do links matter to search engines? They offer a level of impartial validation. Search engines can only match specific keywords against text on your website and decide your site contains relevant information. But what happens if many other sites also contain information that’s just as relevant?
Search engines assign brownie points for all the links from your site to other thematically consistent websites, and from those other sites linking to yours.
The reason for giving brownie points to these links is because each one effectively serves as a citation (as when one scholarly text references another), validating the worthiness of your site’s information. If the content of your site wasn’t any good, why would another site owner want to link with you? There would be no “What’s in it for me?” benefit. Search engines algorithms are designed to account for this, and so they consider the number of links on your site as a measure of credibility.
For more about how links can help you achieve higher search engine rankings, look for the section on Google’s PageRank program (elsewhere in this blog). You’ll learn how PageRank works, and how you can take advantage of its parameters to improve your ranking by developing solid links with other related websites.