Need links? Of course you do! In order to rank well and successfully promote your online business, you need an effective link building program as part of your over-all SEO strategy. Link guru Debra O'Neil Mastaler of Alliance Link walks attendees through the world of links. She reveals why search engines rely so heavily on links, where to find links and why a good link can send sales through the roof.
Debra starts out talking about why links are valuable. Links connect sites like threads in a web. They also provide a path for search engine spiders and humans. She then lays a foundation by explaining how the Internet evolved from ARPAnet in 1958 to the world wide web in 1989 and the first search - Archie in 1990. Initially, search engines did not base their algorithms on links but rather the content on the page. 1997 comes and along with it, Google who developed PageRank, an algorithm based on sites linking to one another. This the birth of link building for improved visibility in the organic search rankings. Now all search engine use the concept of link popularity in some fashion, just as Google does. This one of the reasons why links are so valuable.
Link popularity itself is considered an "off-page" factor with regards to search engine optimization. There are four components to it - link quantity, link quality, anchor text and relevancy.
Quantity is easy enough to understand. Quality is based on the type and quality of the site linking to you. Quality factors can include PageRank of site, the authority and trustability of a site, age of domain, and how closely related site is to your industry. Anchor text is a query ranking factor and is probably the powerful of all these components. Anchor text is simply using text in the link that matches a keyword phrase you wish to rank well for. Finally relevancy is related to your link neighborhood. When you link out to others in the community, you are establishing a bridge as to where you belong in the "community scope" of all things. The same is true of those linking in to your. Authority sites typically rank well and are well known within your niche.
A tool called TouchGraph will create a nice map that shows what a site's link neighborhood looks like.
Bottom line is to try to secure as many links from authority sites as possible in your link building strategy.
Some link factors to avoid include the following: control your rate of link acquisition. Build slowly trying to make it look as natural as possible, avoid repetitive anchor text and don't use the same tactic over and over again. You do not want to raise red flags that would attract a human review in which case might get your inbound links frozen so they no longer pass any link juice.
For optimal linking success, screen link partners carefully, place links in content areas, and understand that ALL links have some value. Keep in mind that links with redirects such as affiliate links, do not pass any link popularity. Search the term "naked links" for technology on how to make affiliate links count. Avoid losing PageRank in being consistent in the way that you link (i.e. www or non www).
Some free tools that Debra mentions are as follows:
Finally Debra talks about some current link building tactics that are
working. Content generation is one of the most successful tactics that is
working right now. There is traditional content and web 2.0. Press releases,
wikis, article directories, etc. are traditional whereas blogs and social media
are web 2.0 tactics.
Then there is the mining of links from authority sites. Once you identify key players in your niche, mine their back links and see if you cannot obtain links from those sites as well.
Find top reviewers at large comparison sites such as Amazon and Epinion and visit their blogs and web pages. Leave comments or ask for links.
Regarding directories, try to get links from authority directories. That can include the DMOZ's and Yahoo's but also niche and local directories such as this Arizona contractor's directory or this Christian ministry directory (disclaimer - both are owned by this author). Keep in mind that there are a lot of RSS directories now where you can add your RSS feeds.
There are content networks such as HubPages, Squidoo, Helium, etc. where you can take control of particular keyword phrases, placing content that then points back to your main site. They act in a way like mini-sites.
There are a variety of bloggers that are looking for guest blog writers in which you can then write posts and link back to your site.
Finally, Debra talks about "link bait" in a web 2.0 world and points out social media/news sites such as Digg, Mixx. Propeller and the like.
Note: These are raw notes taken while live-blogging sessions at the Small Business Marketing Unleashed conference in Columbus, Ohio. Please excuse any spelling or grammar errors.
David Wallace is CEO and founder of SearchRank, an original search engine optimization and marketing firm based in Phoenix, Arizona. He is experienced in search engine optimization and marketing, pay per click and pay for inclusion management, directory submissions and web site design usability. David is a frequent contributor to various search engine related forums, an active editor of popular directories such as GoGuides.org, Joe Ant and Zeal and has had several articles published on industry related sites. Since 1997, David along with his company have helped hundreds of businesses both large and small increase their search engine visibility and customer acquisitions.
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