For small businesses in the 21st century, the website can outrank physical store presence in importance. Before customers can navigate your website, they first have to find it. Search engines like Google play a huge role in which websites users see. These companies decide which websites to put at the top based on numerous factors.
Some of the most important factors are link signals: the effect of other websites connecting to yours or how your site connects to others. A study by SEMRush lists different link signals as 4 of the top 8 ranking factors in search results. Backlinka found that the average #1 Google Search has 3.8x more backlinks and 3.2x more referring domains than #2-#10. Despite the importance of link signals, 94% of websites do not have external backlinks. Those sites are like islands; isolated from the rest of the web.
Link building is one of the best ways for a website to increase visibility. But be careful: not every link signal is a good one. Google penalizes websites they perceive as cheating to improve standing with doorway pages meant to funnel users to a different page than they clicked, hidden links in places users won’t see, or high volumes of exact matches due to spam.
Search engines don’t want these tricks to influence rankings nor will they allow people to buy their way to the top. Some ranking decisions are even based on reputation; spam leads to more spam. Poor-quality links together create a “bad neighborhood” in the virtual sphere, tanking your website’s reputation if it’s caught in the chain.
So what are good ways to increase link signals? There are a number of ways. Domain age works in a website’s favor; it shows the website has stood the test of time. Content that answers questions is valuable: posts discussing the “what” or “why” of things get 26% more links than videos and how-tos. The trust, diversity, and relevance of sites linking to yours mean a lot.
Ultimately, most methods to boost link signals boil down to two principles: maintain a quality website and only provide external backlinks to websites of equal/better quality. So long as your site and the external backlinks it attracts have good expertise, authority, and trust, you will be able to climb the search rankings.