From: Rochelle Fellig

Hey Jill,

I thank you for your site. It has really opened my eyes in many areas of SEO where I was lost before.

My question is this: I keep reading and hearing about links, links, links. But I am still utterly confused on what links are, how you get them, why they are necessary?

My website has very, very few items so I think it will be easy for me to get high rankings for those specific items because I can target them so well.

What route do I need to take? Where should I start? Do I need to get someone to revise the Meta tags? Edit the keywords? (That I can probably do on my own since I know inside out what keywords people look for when searching for the items I'm selling.)

Anyhow, a little light shed in the dark would be MUCH appreciated.

Again, I thank you for sharing your wisdom with us little guys ;-)

Rochelle Fellig, Chief Operations Officer
RetroLuxury Inc.

~~~Jill's Response~~~

Hi Rochelle,

Glad you like the site. Let me take your questions separately, since they are somewhat diverse.

1. What are links, how do you get them and why do you need them?

In really basic terms, links are the words people click on to surf the Web. Technically, they are called "hyperlinks." Links are what make the Web work, and are how we find sites. When someone says their site is "listed" in Google, for instance, it means that Google has a link to their site. When you recommend another site, you put a link to it on your site so that others can visit it. When you submit your site to a directory such as Yahoo or DMOZ, you are essentially requesting a link from them.

In order for the search engines to determine which sites should show up for which search terms, part of their ranking formula is determined by how popular any given site is on the Web as a whole. One way to determine popularity is by looking at how many other sites link to a site. This is what is known as "link popularity." Google has its own name for their version of link popularity, called PageRank. Basically, a link is assumed to be a vote in favor of a site. The more votes for your site, the higher probability it will be able to rank highly when a relevant keyword search is made at the search engine.

That explains what links are, and why you need them. So how do you go about getting some for your site?

The number one way to entice people to link to your site is by having a super-terrific site that is informative, helpful and/or unique. You want people to say, "Wow, that site is awesome, I have to tell all my friends and associates about it on my site!"

Along with simply having a wonderful site, you also need to get the word out about it, so that people know it exists in the first place. To do this you should submit the site's URL (domain name) to any and all of the Internet directories that exist. Directories are different from search engines, as they are human-edited, categorized online catalogs of Web sites. If your site is non-commercial, you can submit it for free to the most popular directory, Yahoo. If it's a business site, it will cost you $299 per year for a review. However, there are many other free or low-cost directories you can submit to. The Open Directory is one, and JoeAnt, GoGuides and Gimpsy are others. (Some of these directories require you to become an editor or to pay a small listing fee if you're not an editor.) It can take many weeks or months to be accepted in some of these directories when you submit for free, so be patient!

Many companies will find that there are also industry-specific niche directories they can submit their site to. In fact, I recently published a guest article entitled "Finding Free Niche Directories," which you can read in the archives.

2. Do you need to get someone to revise the Meta tags and edit the keywords?

Many of my readers already know this, but it's always good to reiterate every now and then. Your Meta keyword tag, and the information contained within it, really won't impact your rankings in the search engines. Most engines ignore it, or only use it when there's nothing else worthwhile on your page to index.

What you do need to work on in order to gain high rankings is the visible copy on your page. That is, the words people read once they get to your site. You'll need to make sure each page of your site contains 2 or 3 keyword phrases that people might be typing into search engines to find your site. Make sure each page has a good 200 to 300 words of text on it, and use your keyword phrases as many times as you can within the copy. If you have no idea how to do this, you might want to hire a professional SEO copywriter and/or purchase my "Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" report.

You'll also want to make sure that your Title tags reflect the keyword phrases you've based your copy around as much as possible. Title tags are given a lot of weight in the search engine ranking formulas. In fact, if your keyword phrases aren't very competitive, just putting them into your Title tags can do wonders for your rankings.

Those are the very basic things you need to do for your site. You should read reputable articles and newsletters on the topic for more information. I would suggest that you sift through the previous newsletters that are published on my site. You may want to also browse around the High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum and ask a question or two. Many industry experts (including me) are there at all times of the day and night to answer questions.

Good luck!


September 17, 2003

CEO and founder of High Rankings®, Jill Whalen has been performing search engine optimization since 1995 and is the host of the free High Rankings Advisor search engine marketing newsletter, author of "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" and founder/administrator of the popular High Rankings Search Engine Optimization Forum. In 2006, Jill co-founded SEMNE, a local search engine marketing networking organization for people and companies in New England.

High Rankings is an internationally recognized search engine optimization firm located in Framingham, MA specializing in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, in-house training, site audit reports, search marketing seminars and workshops. High Rankings has a 100% success rate for substantially improving client rankings and targeted traffic.

Jill speaks at national and international conferences and has been writing about SEO and search marketing since 2000. She's been quoted in such publications as The Wall Street Journal, U.S. News & World Report and The Washington Post. Her articles have appeared in numerous print magazines and online websites including CIO Magazine, CMS Focus, The Internet Marketing Report, ClickZ, WorkZ,, Entrepreneur, Lycos Small Business, WebProNews, SiteProNews and others. Jill has also appeared on many online and offline radio programs such as Entrepreneur Magazine's E-Biz Radio Show, SearchEngineRadio and the eMarketing Talkshow.

Search Engine Guide > Jill Whalen > What Are Links and How Do I Get 'Em?