Can Any Inbound Linking Hurt My Ranking?

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The answer is not so simple – generally speaking, inbound linking cannot hurt your search ranking. If inbound links were to hurt your rank, your competitors would continually link to your site from link farms. Such a scenario is beyond your control. For this reason, Google cannot penalize your site for any inbound linking. However, there are bad backlinks. These can include those that come from low domain authority sites and those that point to URLs with your domain that are broken. Such links are important to disavow,

On the other hand, you can be penalized for illegitimate external linking. It is highly advised that you not link to any website or group of sites that may be involved in shady or unethical search practices. Doing so could result in being black-listed by Google, ultimately ruining your SEO strategy. Avoid this situation at all costs and ensure that all external links point to trusted and reliable sources.

Having been involved in the internet industry for a large part of my working life, I have spent a lot of time researching and browsing the internet and reading websites, mainly for client design research, but also for occasional personal use. The one thing that I find most disappointing is the apparent lack of thought going into website creation and its purpose, which in turn creates a missed opportunity for many e-businesses to become successful.

My personal perspective on e-businesses and their websites is that if they don’t take pride in their websites and show their customers a passion for what they do, chances are, they won’t take pride in their products, and the passion for providing good customer service will also be missing.

What you must remember, is that your website is a direct reflection of you and your business. The appearance of your site is important — you only get one chance to make a first impression. Moreover, a well-thought-out brand strategy should be conducted to establish the narrative of the company and products/ services, even before you design a logo, Developing a cohesive brand strategy is at the root of a successful marketing plan, taking into account the three stages of the buyer journey.

In short, if your site doesn’t look professional or pleasing to the eyes at first glance, the majority of people will assume your products and/or services to be of similar poor standard.

At the other end of the scale, you could fall into the trap of going overboard with the design and complicating things by incorporating high-cost flashy graphics. You may end up with a great-looking and highly aesthetic website, but the danger with this is that your site may take too long to load, or be so congested that there is no clear decisive message. There is nothing worse for a customer than trying to visit a slow-loading site, or getting lost and unable to find what they’re searching for. We live in an incredibly fast society. Be concise, and provide a clear navigation path to learn more so that potential customers can easily understand what you have, your UVP, and easy access to buy. Failure to achieve these basics will likely result in potential customers leaving the website.

The other major consideration (if not the most important) when designing a website is your content. Not just links, but content. It has to be authentic, authoritative, easy to digest, and resonate with your target audience. When someone is searching for something in particular and they visit your website, they’re visiting for a reason. Your site has something they want, Whether this be your product, service, and/or information. If they are unable to obtain what they’re looking for, they move on to a competitor. To be able to get your visitors to stay and look around your website, you must give them a reason to. Providing them with quality content will achieve this goal.

There have been countless other lists and articles on the subject of website design mistakes, but I have compiled my own list, from a designer’s perspective, of some pitfalls to look out for when considering either designing a website or purchasing a template. Remember that simple, clear, informative, and well-designed sites are the most successful. If you are a current e-business and your sales aren’t what you had hoped, consider the above and take some time to look openly and honestly at your site. Spending money on improving your website is a much better investment than throwing money away on trying to advertise and market a site that just isn’t good enough to sell your product or services.

If you are looking for a template or a custom-designed website, be aware of the above and be prepared to ask your chosen designer or template provider questions to ensure that your hard-earned money doesn’t go to waste on an inferior design, that contains any of the above. Asking questions won’t cost you a penny, and doing so could actually save you a lot of money over the long term. Getting your website right the first time is vital in terms of saving money and time. The earlier your website is up and running properly, the quicker you will be able to reap the rewards of a successful e-business.

The prime mistake Newbies make is to put their website name into the Anchor Text. Unless your website contains your keywords this is a waste of a perfectly good link. Remember that Google puts a very big importance on those Anchor texts and they should always use your keywords.

The second mistake is trying to put every single keyword into your anchor text and give that to everyone. There are two mistakes with this technique.

1.) Google assigns weight to each word in anchor text so if there are a lot of filler words (common in long sentences), they will “dilute” your target words.

According to two recent surveys, conducted by Forrester Research and Gartner Group, e-commerce sites are losing $1.1 to $1.3 billion in revenue each year due to customers’ click-aways caused by slow-loading sites. If a page takes too long to load, your potential customer will not wait. Ultimately costing you business.

2. Make sure you include proper META tags in the HTML of each page of your website. META tags are HTML codes that enable search engines to determine what keywords are relevant to a specific site. About 80 percent of all website traffic originates from the eight major search engines. It would be a good idea to make sure you’ve done your homework and fully understand how to optimize your web pages prior to designing your site. This will save you a lot of headaches in the long run. For further information on META tags read the tutorial entitled, “Building Your Site.”

Be cautious when selecting your background and text colors. Before designing you should create a style guide, identifying the primary colors, the secondary and highlight colors, as well as the fonts. Busy backgrounds make text difficult to read and draw the attention away from the text. Also, black backgrounds with white letters are a bad idea as they strain the eyes, meaning visitors won’t stay on the site for long periods of time. Always be consistent with your style, header images, and font. Think about successful brands such as Starbucks, or Subway: every store is consistent in presenting the brand. The same concept is true for every page on your website. Your site should be nicely organized and uniform throughout. Keep in mind that colors affect your mood and will have an effect on your visitors as well. Bright colors such as yellow and orange, cause you to become more cheerful or happy, while colors such as blue and purple have a calming effect. Dark colors such as brown and black have a depressing effect. A good rule of thumb would be to use colors based on the type of effect you’re trying to achieve.

Your main page should specifically let your visitors know exactly what you’re offering, how it will affect their lives (or business), and why it matters. How many times have you visited a site and never figured out exactly what they were selling? If your potential customers can’t quickly understand what you’re offering, they’re not going to hang around trying to figure it out. They’ll go on to the next site and probably never return. They’re visiting your site for a specific purpose. They want something your site offers. Whether it is information, a product, or a service.

Design your site to be easily navigated. Place your navigation links together at the top, bottom, left, or right side of the page. Use tables to neatly align your links. If you are planning on using graphic buttons to navigate your site, keep in mind that with each graphic you add to your page, it will take much longer for your page to load. If you only have a handful of navigational links, using graphic buttons will be fine. If you have over six links, it would be wise to simply use text links to keep your load time down.

If you must use frames, use them sparingly. Frames, if not properly used, can make your site look unprofessional. Avoid making your visitors have to scroll from side to side to view your content. This can be very irritating and cause your visitors to leave. If you must use frames, offer your visitors a choice. Frames versus No Frames. Try to keep the number of clicks required to get from your main page to any other page on your site down to four. Keep in mind, that your visitors may enter your site from pages other than your main. Always have good navigational links on every page and place your company logo on the header and footer of each page.

Design a quality e-book to give to your visitors. It’s not as difficult as it sounds. If you can create a web page, you can create an e-book. The focus of your e-book should complement your website. Simply write about your passion. If your passion is sales, then you could share some of your knowledge and experience by designing your e-book to provide a complete sales training guide. If your passion is a home-based business, you could write an e-book about how to start your own home-based business. Here is an example of a resource page with free e-book downloads, a paid marketing book, and an online marketing course. If you’re writing about your true passion then you shouldn’t have any trouble coming up with something to write about. For further information on e-books, read the article entitled, “How to Create an E-book and Drive Massive Traffic to Your Site by Giving It Away.

Having been involved in the internet industry for a large part of my working life, I have spent a lot of time researching and browsing the internet and reading websites, mainly for client design research, but also for occasional personal use. The one thing that I find most disappointing is the apparent lack of thought going into website design, functionality, and messaging. This in turn creates a missed opportunity for many e-businesses to become successful.

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