The world of SEO (search engine optimization) has changed over the years. There are many search engines available to users, but Google clearly is the mac-daddy. When you’re the king, you pretty much make the rules, and Google is no exception. They’ve been setting the standard for SEO and that is not going to be changing any time soon. With every new algorithm that Google releases, they change the rules and raise the bar for anyone who has a website. The goal is that Google does not want you to game the system. They don’t want you to be able to optimize your site for a higher page rank. They’d rather your true content speak for itself and that anyone who comes across your site from a Google search, come across it because it meets the criteria of what they actually are looking for. It used to be keywords that drove search engine results, but although still used by other search engines, Google doesn’t put much stock in your keywords anymore. It knows that people have been stuffing their sites full of keywords, some relevant, some irrelevant. Like a disapproving parent, Google has said, if you can’t play by the rules, then the rules are going to change and you’re going to need to figure out what the new rules are. So if keywords are out, what is in? The answer is back links. Back links are links to and from other websites, social media sites and blogs. You can link out to other sites, such as this link to an articleabout bad back links, and other sites can link in to you. These inward bound links can be in the form of a picture, some targeted text, or just the name of your business; all linking back to your site when clicked on. All links are not created equally, however, so using caution is advised. A good SEO company will never tell you that creating a strong linking program is easy or fast. The truth is, it is a process that requires patience and persistence. You do not want to purchase links, whether individually or in bulk, or you run the risk of being buried by Google to the dark recesses of everyone’s web search for breaking the rules. You can certainly approach people you know or do business with, to see if there is an interest in trading links for free. In this case, keep in mind that using a variety of different kinds of links is best, so determine what kind of links you already have and then see if you can get a different type of link to create balance. If you aren’t sure if anyone is currently linking in to you, a tool like Alexa would help determine that. Rather, you want to create content on your website or blog, that people actually are interested in reading and sharing. When they share it of their own accord? That is the gold standard of back links. THAT is where you want to get your back links. Of course, that means that you have to put in the hard work of creating good content AND it means that you have got to acquire patience. Not an easy thing for some, certainly not for me, but slow and steady and you’ll get there!