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Inbound links are probably one of the most important parts of successful search engine optimization. Inbound links are the number one factor in Google's determination of your Page Rank, which has a huge influence on your position in their search engine results. Since Google accounts for roughly 80% of the searches performed on the internet, inbound links are very important if you're looking to reach the majority of internet users.
Inbound links are defined as links found elsewhere on the internet that direct users to your site only. Inbound links differ from reciprocal links, which occur when someone links to your site and your site links back to them in turn. While these do factor into Google's Page Rank assessment and other search engine algorithms, they do not carry the same weight that one way, inbound links do. In addition to increasing your Page Rank and appealing to search engines, inbound links also work to increase traffic to your site.
Before we discuss how to go about acquiring inbound links, let's go over the different kinds of inbound links available to you and their effectiveness. In general, there are text and graphic based links. However, studies have shown that text based inbound links are more effective at both garnering more traffic and improving your Page Rank. In fact, depending on the text itself and its keywords, textual inbound links themselves can even have an effect on your rank and position.
Another factor to consider is the quality of your inbound links. In terms of page ranking, getting inbound links from just about anywhere can help. However, if the inbound link contains a relevant keyword to your site, Google will give it even more value. And when it comes to increasing traffic, the best inbound links come from sites with content relevant to yours. So why not kill two birds with one stone. The better your traffic and the more inbound links you have, the better your search engine marketing strategy, so try to get inbound links from sites, directories and forums that are relevant to the subject matter of your own site.
Acquiring Inbound Links
There are a number of methods for getting more sites to send inbound links to yours. The first and one of the most effective is to post to directories. Directories are perfect for providing inbound links, and if you can submit to a directory that focuses on your subject matter, even better. Some directories are better than others, and some carry fees.
Another popular method of obtaining inbound links is to post to forums. By including an inbound link in your signature line, you can post interesting comments and refer people to your site to learn more. Just make sure your inbound links aren't hidden to search engine crawlers, and try to choose public forums where users won't need session IDs.
Link exchange centers are also a good way to get inbound links, but often times they may result in a lot of reciprocal linking. Make sure you join sites that provide categorized link exchange, and make sure they require other sites to approach you personally. And make sure you do not join link farms! Many search engines see this as blatant attempts to manipulate your SEO marketing, and will penalize you for using them.
You can also try to email sites with content similar to yours and submit inbound links to them. There are even sites available that will sell you inbound links. This can get expensive, but can also be very effective.