Linking Best Practices

There are several things worth mentioning when it comes to linking. Don't be afraid to link out to good content. If you see something in your industry that's helpful to your web site's visitors, then link to it and tell them about it. After all, it's a two way street: you have good content on your web site that you think other should link to. And other web sites have good content that they think you should link to. So, don't be afraid to link out to good useful content, especially if it's relevant to your industry.

Try to use links in context. In other words, links in the middle of a paragraph and in the middle of a sentence is worth more than a link that's buried in the sidebar navigation or at the bottom of your web page all by itself. The search engines can distinguish between a link in a sentence and a link that appears in your site's navigation or all by itself on the bottom of the page without any text around it.

Get free publicity for your web site and your business. Jeff Crilley, an Emmy Award Winning television reporter, will tell you how to write a "killer" press release, how to come up with ideas that are guaranteed to get media coverage, how to hold a news conference the media will love, and how to keep reporters coming back for more. I've used many of his methods to get a lot of media attention for some of my web sites and client web sites, and using the media to get free publicity is a great way to get noticed, get links, and get articles in major online publications written about your site.

Don't forget about analyzing the links of your competitors' web sites, especially the ones who rank well for search phrases that you'd like to rank well for. Oftentimes, you can identify links to their web site that are valuable to them—and you can get a link from that web site as well. Many ‘resource' type of web sites in certain industries will gladly list your site especially if they're unbiased and list several companies in your industry; you just have to ask. Additionally, if you have an ecommerce site, adding your products listed and product feeds listed in Google Base, Froogle, and other shopping search engines may help, as well.

Linking Worst Practices

There many things to stay away from when you're building links to your web site. The search engines are very smart when it comes to identifying links that you control. In other words, the search engines are looking for unbiased links; they do not care much for links that you have control over like links from one web site you own to another web site you own. The search engines use any means they can to identify links that you control; they usually discount them or penalize for it; and in extreme cases they might outright ban web sites that are trying to "game" their search results.

I would stay away from linking two web pages together that are hosted on the same IP address or the same Class "C" block of IP addresses. If you haven't gotten any new links to your web site from other web sites then your site might become stale. The search engines don't generally reward web sites that become stale, as that might be an indication of bad content. If you're buying anchor text links or advertising on other web sites, then stay away from "site-wide buys". The last thing you want is the same text link on every page of someone else's 30,000 page web site; it just looks too suspicious or too "spammy". I also recommend staying away from paid links that don't share your site's own topic. Why would you promote your travel site on a web site about Alzheimer's disease? That doesn't make sense, and the visitors to the Alzheimer's site are probably not going to be interested in the best travel deals.

I've already mentioned that you should stay away from link schemes and any sort of linking among web sites or web pages that are just there to "game" the search results. Stay away from bad neighborhoods and don't participate in link networks. I've also already mentioned that orphan pages on your web site won't stay in the search engine index; so if it's a valuable page to you, then make sure it has links. Finally, don't even think about blog spam, log spam, guestbook spam, and message board/forum spam. Those types of links won't get your web site anywhere in the search engine rankings.

When it comes to a linking campaign, we all must realize that we cannot build links to our web site and stop—it's a constant process that needs attention just about every day. Although you might not add new content to your web site every day, it's important to always be in the "mode" of thinking about links. Building new links to your web site is like branding your company and branding your web site. Always be on the lookout for new business opportunities and new places to get links to your web site—doing that will keep your web site on the top of your potential customers' minds and at the top of the search engine rankings.

Discuss this article in the Small Business Ideas forum.

May 15, 2006

Bill Hartzer currently runs a Strategic Online Marketing Consultancy that includes services such as search engine optimization, social media marketing, and online reputation management.

Bill Hartzer formerly managed the Search Engine Marketing division of Vizion Interactive and MarketNet, leading interactive marketing and website design firms in the Dallas, Texas area.

Hartzer is a successful writer, blogger, search engine marketing, and social media marketing expert. During the past fifteen years, some of his many accomplishments include: Search Engine Marketing Manager, Vizion Interactive, Search Engine Marketing Manager, MarketNet, Search Engine Optimization Strategist, Intec Telecom Systems PLC, Webmaster, Intec Telecom Systems PLC, Founder, Dallas/Fort Worth Search Engine Marketing Association, Owner/Author, Corporate Web Site Marketing, Administrator, Search Engine Forums, Frequent Speaker, Search Engine Strategies Conferences, Frequent Speaker, WebmasterWorld's PubCon Search Engine and Internet Marketing Conference.

Search Engine Guide > Bill Hartzer > Linking Campaigns Lead to Increased Online Visibility - Part 3