Networks that Work
Networks are vital to any business and a web site is no different.
For instance, every business must have a network of suppliers to provide either what will be sold or those support materials used in the selling of products or services. Every business must have a network of employees who do the work or nothing gets done. And every business must have a network of customers who ultimately pay for it all.
The Internet itself is one big network, hence the name, InterNETWORK or Internet. So networks are vital to a web site for without networks, there would be no traffic into and through the site.
What is a Network?
A network is nothing more than the links that tie your web site to other web sites. There are basically three kinds of links and all are important if a website is to be vibrant and healthy. In addition, a healthy balance of links is part of the credibility that the search engines take into account when determining how to rank a site in the SERPS. So it is important to understand how these work and how these affect your web site. Here are the three kinds of links/networks:
- Internal: These are links that tie your pages together. If you had no links of this kind, people who found your site would only be able to read the first page and no others. There must be some kind of connections between the pages, whether through a Site Map, which is similar to a Table of Contents, through sidebar and header navigation, or through links embedded into the text, like this. Go ahead, give it a try.
- Inbound: These are links that point in to your site. These are the links that most people, especially newbies, spend most of their time building and creating, but these are not the be all and end all. To be effective, these links should be in places where people will actually click on them with the purpose of entering your establishment (web site). At one time, building tons of links wherever one could was considered a way to get page rank and higher SERPS. No longer. The Panda Update took care of that and thank Google (I almost said thank god, but on the web, the two are virtually synonymous) for maybe now the web can clear away some of the unnecessary link clutter.
- Outbound: Most people completely forget these, but to do so makes a web site rather one-sided. There is no network without two-way communication. Both in and out bound links are needed for a healthy site. For instance, no one knows it all (though some may act like they do). Hence, there will always be instances where it would be useful to send your visitors to another web site for further information or clarification, especially if that web site is not a competitor of yours. And even if you do send them to a competitor, that can benefit you for your visitors will see you as enlightened and confident of their return…and they will return.
An Analogy That May be Useful
Think of links like Networks in a small business. Just as you have contact information on your suppliers, you have outbound links. Just as you have phone numbers for your employees and they often have each others contact information, there are internal connections tying every page to another or others. And just as you have a phone number, billboards, and business cards all over town, you place links in locations on the web where you believe people who will want to visit your store, your web site, can find you.
Networks are Links and Links are Networks
Links are the backbone of the Internet for without these, there could be no Internet. In fact, the Internet as we know it was developed by a man named Tim Berners-Lee who developed the hyperlink, which made it possible for him to quickly locate research material he had previously read. He added hyperlinks to wherever electronic pages he thought he might want to refer back to later and the idea caught on quickly at the CERN lab in Switzerland, where he was working. The Internet was born.
But do you think Tim Berners-Lee linked EVERY page and every word? No, he only placed them where he thought he may need to return quickly. In like manner, to be effective and useful, link locations should be placed where they are useful. This was a large reason why Panda was such a great innovation and why today, volume no longer matter in SERPs placement.