We discussed the structure of your site above. Links create the TIER 1-2-3 structure. And they belong in the flow of the copy. Text links must flow naturally, and beautifully, with the content.
Think of your links as providing a service to your readers. You offer your links as recommendations or tips or Top 3 as a service for your readers to see and use. So don't just save them for the end, where you impassively list them.
And it's not just your readers who see the links.
Yup, the engines do, too. So include your Specific Keyword, and variations and synonyms thereof, in visible, blue-underlined text in your links to your merchants.
What about your links to the next tier down?...
Don't just say. "Click here." Say. "Click here for the best outlet malls, region by region." The word "outlet malls" in the link to your "outlet-malls.html" page (see next section) reinforces "outlet-malls.html" for its Specific Keyword.
For that matter, even try to get your Specific Keywords included in the text of INcoming links. For example, if you are link-exchanging (more on this is coming), specify that you would like "factory outlet stores" (or whatever the keyword of your "receiving page" is) to be contained in the text of the link.
Every little bit helps you get the edge on your competition.
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