For many, idea of optimizing a website for top search engine placement means entering some META tags, maybe titling page appropriately, and then you’re done. A long time ago, in an SEO galaxy far FAR away, this tactic worked. Unfortunately for those optimizing their websites, and fortunately for those using search engines to find information, this is no longer case.
There are now some 80+ factors of your website that are taken into consideration when determining ranking of your website. Everything from titles and META’s to content and ALT tags are weighed and analyzed when your placement on search engines is determined. In a recent article by Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Search Engine Placement, he addressed fundamentals of optimizing your web pages. The article he wrote was entitled “A Ten Minute Search Engine Optimization” and can be found on StepForth website at http://news.stepforth.com/2003-news en-minute-optimization.shtml.
This article addresses many of internal factors taken into account in determining your ranking. Another factor which has to be taken very seriously is external links to your website. Links to your site are not most important factor in determining your ranking and you will have to have a well-optimized site to rank well, however, when all else is equal (i.e. when your competitors also have well-optimized sites) this can be determining factor between being found and being buried in search engine rankings.
Links That Work The first consideration you have to make in your link-building efforts is who should be linking to you and whom you should link to. These are two separate considerations and despite that fact that you will be working on both at same time, they must be considered independently.
Who Should Link To You? (Incoming Links) When you are looking for sites to link to you there are five questions that you must ask yourself: 1)Do they compete with you? While you can try to request a link from a site that provides same or similar products and services that you do, this is generally a waste of time that could be spent finding legitimate links from sites that would like to promote your product or service. 2)Does their site relate to your content? If you have a site promoting carpet cleaning products, a link from a hair salon will not be of much benefit. Google and other major search engines look for content relationship when determining value of a link. If content of two sites is totally unrelated link is given very little weight if any. Focus only on attaining links from sites relevant to your own. 3)How does Google rate site? Google has come out with a fantastic tool called Google Toolbar. The advanced version of toolbar includes PageRank of site you are currently visiting. Without getting into a long description of PageRank (see Google’s definition), higher number better (it is a ranking out of 10 where traditionally anything above 4 is good and anything above 6 is excellent. If Google rates site well then link will be more valued than from a site that Google rates poorly. When looking for links give more time and attention to those with PageRanks of 4 or higher. The Google Toolbar is a free download available from Google at http:/ oolbar.google.com/. 4)Will they require a reciprocal link? Whether site will require a reciprocal link or not is a serious consideration. The more links to your site that you have that are not reciprocated better. These links are given added weight. This area will be addressed further below. 5)How many links on page? How many links are on page that will link to you, and where your link will be placed is another serious consideration. If your link from their site will be on a page with 100 other links then value of link itself is greatly reduced. Also, whether your link will be on top of page or bottom will also determine value of link itself.
This may be a lot to consider, however it can save you enormous amounts of time and frustration. People will often work for hours to attain a link from a site they like when in reality site has a low PageRank and link won’t even carry much weight as far as search engine placement is concerned.
It is only responsible to note that as a general rule any relevant inbound link will help somewhat. If, in your travels, you find a related site with a PageRank of 2 that is very simple to get a link from, it’s well worth your time to do so given that that time taken is only about 5 minutes. Not all link building is this simple and it’s in more advanced efforts (email communications with webmaster for example) that you will want to apply above noted “rules”.
Who Should You Link To? (Outgoing Links) The question, “who should you link to?” is a very serious one and can have significant repercussions on your search engine placement. If you are linking to sites this is your way of saying, “This site is highly relevant to mine and that my visitors will enjoy content on it.” For this reason there are a number of considerations that have to be made when determining whether reciprocal links are in your best interest. Factors of website that should be considered when determining whether to link to that website are:
1)Is site’s content related to yours? Like incoming links (sites linking to you), relevancy of content on both sites should be high. If you have a number of links from your site to websites that are completely unrelated to you’re value of these links is negligible and further, will reduce perceived value of your site. 2)Does site compete with you? In this case it is your interests, not those of other webmaster, which must be taken into account. Do you want to link to a site that provides same or similar products/services as you? Unless site is willing to reciprocate link and they have a very high PageRank it is probably not wise to give your visitors opportunity to go to site of a competitor. 3)What is their PageRank? Many people falsely believe that any outbound link will hurt your placement. This is simply not case. Poor link-building is cause of this misconception, not link itself. When you are determining whether to link to another site, take a look at PageRank it has been assigned by Google. Like boost this gives to your site in incoming links, so to can this have a positive effect on your outbound links. If all of your outbound links are to highly regarded sites (by search engines) and whose content is relevant to yours then these links will help, and not hinder your rankings.