It used to be called a hyperlink.
You might have heard that term if you were around when the internet was getting started.
Now we just call it a ‘link’. It is very simply anything that you can click on a website that takes you somewhere or does something.
Pictures can be links, they can link to a bigger version of the same picture, or to something else. Any graphic like a logo can be a link. Usually on a website the logo will link you back to the home page of that website.
The main type of link is a text link.
That is a word or words on a page that you can click on. Usually a link will be blue letters and underlined in blue like on Google.
If you click on a link on Google and then go back to the search results, you might have noticed that the link turns purple.
Programming can change a link to be any size or color and underlined or not. You can also set something to happen when you put the mouse over the text link. Our programmers have set the links in our blog to be blue, and when you put the mouse over top it turns red and is underlined.
A text link can link to another page on your website, like the menu at the top or the links to other blog articles on the side of the page, or a link can go to a different website. For a link to another website it can look like this http://www.google.ca or like this google.ca or like this Google, or like this Google is the biggest search engine in Canada.
All of those links go to the same place, it is just the wording that you click on that changes. You can set a link to say anything you want and to go anywhere you want. The two are not connected.
Where the link goes, and also what the links says, are both important to the search engines.
How Search Engines like Google Work
Google is the biggest search engine by far. In Canada, about 80% of people use Google to search for things on the Internet. You might not have even known that there are other search engines. Google is so big that ‘To Google’ has become a verb, “Why don’t you Google it?”
The way Google works is by following links. That’s it.
Google’s automatic software follows every link they find on every website they visit. Google says that their search results are now made up of 30 trillion connected pages connected by links (that is up from 1 trillion in 2008).
You are probably wondering how does Google decide which website to show first when you do a search?
The main way Google does this is by reading the wording on a website. When Google finds and follows a link, it isn’t looking at the regular website that you or I will see, it is looking at the code. It looks like this:
Google reads the code of each page of each website and finds the links to follow to other websites.
When somebody does a search for a phrase like “realtor in Winnipeg”, Google will check through those 30 trillion pages in an instant and find which ones have the words ‘realtor’ and ‘Winnipeg’ somewhere on it, and even better, the exact phrase ‘realtor in Winnipeg’.
The other thing I was saying before about the wording in a link comes in here.
Google also reads and keeps track of the wording in the link, so if somebody puts ‘realtor in Winnipeg’ as the wording of the link, that is even better than just having the website address.
It helps Google to know right away what the link is about and associate that wording with that website. For example, I can put a link like this: www.randyleopold.com, but even better would be to put the link like this realtor in Winnipeg.
So as you might have guessed, Google also keeps track of how many links are going to each website and where they are coming from.
There are a lot of other things Google looks at, but one of the main things for deciding the ranking of a website (whether it shows up as the first result on the first page, or way down on the 10th or 20th or 100th page of results where nobody will see it) is the popularity of that website – the number of other websites linking to it – and the popularity of each website that the link is coming from.
That was the trillion dollar idea that the founders of Google came up with in 1997.
It makes sense that Google thinks that the more popular a website is, the more useful it is. By putting the most useful websites at the top of your search, it is saving you time and making you happy to come back and use Google again and again – then Google can make money from showing those little ads at the top and the side of the search results – like $67 billion dollars of money in 2015.
How to Get More Links
Now Google keeps track of everything and they have unimaginable computing power at their disposal. With $67 billion dollars at stake, they are going to make sure that their search results stay the most useful.
They are always looking for new ways that people are trying to cheat the system and improve their ranking with extra links to their websites. As Google figures out how people are manipulating their position in the search results, they change the way the search results work a little bit so the cheat no longer works, and not only that, they will often punish the abusers and sometimes even remove them from the search results all together.
You don’t want that to happen, so make sure the links to your website are genuine and useful and be very cautious about paying somebody who promises to build up links for you.
So yes, you want more links to your website. Not just for Google and your position in the search results, but so people have more routes to your website. The more roads in, the better chances for people to visit.
Where can you get a link to your website? Here are some ideas to get started:
- Business listings and directories – Google My Business Listings is the most important because it is tied in with Google Maps. You can add your website link and fill in the other details like your address and business hours for when people are searching for your business or following Google’s directions to your business.Yellowpages.ca is the 115th most popular website in Canada. Make sure your website shows up in your Yellow Pages listing. This can be tough sometimes because you usually need to get in touch with a rep for your area, then they will try to sell you thousands of dollars of advertising every year.
And don’t forget our directory. We only show Canadian businesses that have a website. Add your listing if your business isn’t already on Websites.ca.
- Businesses you work with, suppliers, businesses you supply to, or any businesses you are connected to. Just make sure it is relevant for your users, and not some link swapping scheme.
- Blog comments and forums – if you are providing useful information and feedback with it, you can include a link to your website in the comments of a blog or forum.
- Social Media – Add a business page on Facebook, set up your Google+ business page and add a business on LinkedIn. These are great place to connect with people and link people to your website.