Do Links Really Matter ?

While most SEOs will tell you that links are extremely important, most small business owners really don’t have any idea of why links matter beyond the simple concept that links will help them rank better.

Jennifer Laycock of Search Engine Guide has recently published a new series of articles entitled Why Links Matter – that examines why links do matter so much to both search engines and to Internet users.

In part one, Jennifer raises the concept of links as the “threads of the web”, helping both search engines and humans find their way from one site to another :

Links Are the Internet’s Road Map
Perhaps the single most important reason why links matter is because they act as a sort of road map to the content on the Internet….

In the early days of the World Wide Web, links were the ONLY way to get from point A to point B. Since there were no search engines you had to rely on people to make note of good sites and to add links to them to their own sites. Once the first major search engine with a “crawler” or “spider” popped up in 1994 it didn’t take long before search engine programmers realized that following links was the most efficient way to find and index new sites.

By the early part of the 2000’s Search Engines were beginning to realise that a site with no incoming links probably didn’t contain valuable enough content to be worth indexing anyway. These days links are essential to making sure that the popular search engines will both find and index all of the pages on your web site. In fact, without links, your site might as well not even exist as far as organic search is concerned.

Why Do Search Engines Need to Follow Links?
It’s important to understand that search engine spiders simply do what they are programmed to do. They aren’t capable of thought or independent action. That means that search engines are unable to visit sites by typing in URLs that they’ve seen on television or by running searches for whatever query strike their fancy. As such, they must rely on links to help them find their way from one site to another.

This is why a good link building campaign will help your site get indexed more quickly and more completely by the major search engines. Spider-based search engines such as Google, Yahoo! and MSN find new sites to include in their indexes by following links from one site to the next.

By working on building links to your Web site from other spidered sites, you’ll eventually receive a visit to your site from one of these spiders and will find your site listed in the most popular search engines.

It’s also why links are essential to the indexing process.

The more links you gain, the more quickly you will be indexed. In fact, the more links you have and the more search engines begin to recognise you as an authority in your topical area, the more often the search engines will visit you and the more time they will spend digging through your site to make sure they’ve included all of your pages.

So, you may have a fabulous site, full of great information and content… but if no-one links to you, chances are the search engines (and by extension just about everyone else) will never find you…