In a fraction of a second, Google's search algorithm computes how many Web sites link to your Web site and the value of each individual link. Google automatically performs this process millions of times every day: Google believes that calculating links and taking into consideration such things as what those links say, along with the quality of the Web sites they come from, is an effective method of determining a Web site's authority. Google ranks sites based on how authoritative they are in their respective markets. Delivering relevant results and determining authority is the foundation of the Google search engine.
In short, if you have a lot of quality Web sites that link to your Web site, you are probably doing well in Google's organic, or nonpaid, results. However, if you have just a few links, you are probably scouring resources to figure out what you can do to improve your search-engine ranking. This chapter represents a step-by-step guide on how to effectively build links to your Web site so that Google and other search engines will determine that your Web site is an authority and thereby rank it well in the organic search results.
The first step to effectively building links is to evaluate your competition. What works for your strongest competitors can also work for you. At this early stage of the linkbuilding process, your goal should be to build the foundation for an effective search-engine-optimization business plan. You should take the process of evaluating competition seriously and spend the requisite time necessary to rank your competition and take advantage of their success.
Not all links are created equally, so you should evaluate each potential linking partner for quality. This can be accomplished by analyzing numerous link-quality factors. By focusing on quality links, the major search engines are more likely to recognize you as a quality contributor to your Web site's subject matter.
You can save yourself a measurable amount of time by approaching the link-building process from the standpoint of building quality links versus building a high quantity of links. Too often, Web site owners believe that they need thousands of links to rank well in the search engines. That is simply not true, regardless of what vertical, or industry, your Web site is in. For optimal success, your approach should be dictated by quality over quantity.
Developing the skill set required to quickly evaluate potential link partners includes learning how to identify the age of a domain, the uniqueness of content, and the potential for incoming traffic. Evaluating potential link partners for quality and focusing on those quality links is a key part of the link-building process and provides an opportunity for you to focus on some of the important factors that search engines take into consideration when determining the quality of the Web sites that link to your Web site.
Participating in communities such as blogs and forums that allow you to post a link back to your Web site is a fun and effective strategy for generating Web site traffic and building links. However, keep in mind that your participation on blogs and forums should be substantive and relevant. Although commenting on relevant blogs and forums seems tedious, it is one of the quickest approaches to building links and also presents the opportunity to learn more about what people in your industry are talking about. Participating in these conversations not only allows you the opportunity to increase your own Web site traffic and search-engine rankings, but it can also help you learn how to grow your business in other ways.
Another method for building links is to request oneway links directly from Web sites. This involves screening potential Web site linking partners for quality and then sending a link request through e-mail. These Webmasters may not have ever considered selling a link, and contacting them could potentially give you the opportunity to acquire high-quality links for a very low price.
Buying links can be done through link broker networks. Link broker networks allow you to search through a large database of Web site owners who have agreed to sell Web site links. You should try to buy links primarily from Web site owners that have Web content that is related to your product or service. Often these Web sites have already been prescreened for quality factors, thus saving you a good amount of time and energy. You can also choose your specific link anchor text.
Pay-per-post networks allow you to hire bloggers to write a post about your product or service and place your link within the body text. Often you can choose more than one variety of link anchor text. These links are generally purchased for a one-time fee as opposed to a recurring monthly subscription, and for that reason they can be an inexpensive way to build high-quality, relevant links. Pay-per-post networks can be used to effectively generate buzz about your product or service. Regardless, keep in mind that you should primarily select blogs that are substantively related to your Web site.
Finally, this chapter explores the practice of building links through writing and distributing search-engine-optimized press releases. Search-engine-optimized press releases provide the added benefit of generating buzz and lots of Web site traffic, and include the ability to strategically optimize the press release for specific keywords you want to rank for on the search engines.
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One of the most effective ways to find potential quality link partners is to mimic the efforts of your most successful competition. What works for your high-ranking competition can also work for you. Any Web page that links to a competitor of yours is a prime candidate to link to your Web page as well. Because the number of quality incoming links plays such a large role in Google's organic ranking algorithm, you should put together a list of Web pages that link to your top performing competitors. First, determine who your top competitors are. Focus on pages that target the same audience that you intend to target. Then, find out where all their links are coming from and attempt to acquire links from those sites to your own. The simplest tools available to find your competition's backlinks are the search engines themselves. Google and Yahoo provide a way to find all the links pointing to a particular Web page. You can use Google's link query and
Yahoo's linkdomain query. These tools allow you to find what sites link to any other site.
Yahoo seems to keep the most updated and comprehensive list of these links. Also, Yahoo allows you to exclude a domain when searching for links. For example, you may want to find how many sites are linking to your own site, but you do not want to see your own internal links. Yahoo also allows you to find links from other domains to any pages on your site.
Keep in mind that not all links are created equally, so after generating this list of prospective linking partners, you should evaluate each one on an individual basis before spending a great deal of time trying to make the acquisition. The next task explains more about evaluating links. After narrowing down your list, you should contact the Web page owners directly to discover what the owner might require to obtain a link, as discussed in the task "Request One-Way Links."
Note: This task uses the Web site www.pepperjamsearch.com as an example.
GOOGLE'S LINK QUERY
1 Navigate to Google.com.
2 Enter link: followed by the Web site in the search box.
• Notice that 1,390 pages link to the Web site.
1 Navigate to Yahoo.com.
2 Enter linkdomain: followed by the Web site in the search box.
• Notice 45,387 pages link to the
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