One of the cornerstones of improving any business is referrals. Nothing promotes a product or service better than positive comments from someone you know and respect or from an authority in the field. The same is true for your website.
To explain the importance of incoming links to grow traffic to your website, I often use a metaphor of selecting a roofer. You don’t know a roofer, but you have a friend that builds houses, so you ask who he would use. The answer provides not only who to call, but provides immediate credibility for that roofer. If you asked another contractor, and he recommended the same roofer, it increases the credibility of that roofer ten fold. However, if some anonymous bystander overheard you asking about a roofer and said “hey I know this guy”, it probably wouldn’t carry a lot of carry a lot of weight in your selection process.
The message here is that both the quality and the quality of the referral matter.
Likewise, one of the cornerstones for improving Search Engine traffic is by growing referral links from credible websites. The larger and more credible the referring website, the better. Likewise, the greater the number of referring websites the better. However, this can be overdone and, like the anonymous guy who overheard your conversation and offered a name, if the referring websites have little or no credibility in the Search Engine, they will have little or no influence on your traffic.
You may remember or have heard about “link exchanges”, essentially an “I’ll link to yours if you link to mine” strategy. These use to be very popular and were a good way to grow incoming links. However, the Search Engines algorithms have evolved making it doubtful that sites of equal rank linking to each other would provide any benefit. Paying people to post in blogs has also become popular in recent years, but just like finding an ad for “loans” posted in a Laundromat, would make you question the credibility of the loan company, links sprinkled in unrelated blogs across the web can cause the Search Engine Algorithm to question the credibility of those links.
So how do you grow links? My answer would be slowly my friend, one at a time.