Search Engine Optimization is Not Always the Answer
Search engine optimization has a purpose. Keyword targeting lets search engines link their users to your website when they look for your keywords. They will not do this satisfactorily without optimizing your site with proper web design techniques. Unfortunately, however, it is more complicated than that. Have you ever wondered why Google will almost always place Ebay on the first few pages when anything is entered into the search field accompanied with the word buy? The word buy has been targeted from more sites than you could count so what makes Ebay special.
For example, take the word bike. If a person uses Google by searching for the string 'buy bike', a page from Ebay will usually be listed before any of the major bicycle makers. It goes without saying that any of the major bicycle dealers have spent a great deal more time targeting keywords related to bikes than a site that manages hundreds of thousands of different products. The answer to this problem is the nature of this article.
Can My Website Compete?
The answer is to increase the importance of your site in the eyes of the major search engines. Ebay gets searched before many other sites because it has been decided by the search engines to be more popular with internet users. So what I am offering the little guy is a way to do what Ebay and the other 'big dogs' have done to become popular.
The world of search engines boil down to the stereotypical high school hierarchy. Search engines pay more attention to those that are popular. In high school, teens usually become popular by having popular people associate with them. The online world is no different. But how do search engines know that popular sites are associating with you? That is an easy one - they link to your website. The three biggest search engine players all crawl the web indexing links to and from all the websites that they have found. They create a ranking system based on many factors, but the most substantial one is how many sites link to you. It could be argued that an optimized site is key, and my opinion expressed here is based on the assumption that your site has been built with proper design techniques. It is also assumed that you have well written content based on your main products or ideas. If you feel that your website does not currently qualify as well written or properly designed, I recommend that you rectify these issues before attempting to build your popularity as it may turn out to be a waste of time.
Do Not Jump Right into Getting Links
There are many tempting ways to get other sites to link to you that are very unsavory. I choose to address these first. These include:
- sites that promote linking as a primary activity.
- sites that have illegal or inappropriate content.
- sites that are entirely unrelated to your target market
Sites that do nothing more than link to other sites may look like a great option but a site without content is not very popular with the search engines. They need to provide something to internet surfers in order to be important. If they are not important to the search engines then a link from them should not be important to you. Link marketing is based on quality links not the amount of links. I advise staying away from these sites all together. Next, it goes without saying, sites with illegal and inappropriate content are never a safe bet.
Getting a Good Start with Link Marketing
Most of us do not have a lot of expendable income starting out so I do not spend much time explaining the options that involve paying large sums of money. In my experience, webmasters with that kind of money contact a company to handle this for them (I have had enough of them as clients to know). I intend on putting out another article to cover this option more in depth, however this article only covers the less costly options.
There are 3 cheap ways to get get some link popularity:
- Ezine articles
- Field related forums
- Banner/Link exchanges
Ezines are online magazines. Ezine articles provide two great benefits. First and foremost, they allow you to link to your site from your article or resource area. Also, they provide a chance to show off the knowledge you have in your field. Although this is essentially a free way to get a quality link, it does come with some work. You must be able to write a content rich article on a topic related to your site. Most Ezine sites do not mind giving you the opportuníty to get your name out there but you need to provide them with a well written article that offers something to their users. Searching for ezine databases on any major search engine should provide you with a líst of great sources for this linking method. Be sure to consult the guidelines of an ezine site in which you decide to submit articles.
Forums are another great opportuníty to get your site out there without paying up. Again, it does take some time. Find forums that cater to questions about your field. For instance, if you sell natural supplements for joint pain, search for forums related to arthritis. Find strings that are talking about different options for arthritis or ask about what works. This opens a perfect opportuníty to link to your site. It is important to know that most forums are not keen on letting sales pitches post for long. The trick here is to provide quality information on these posts. You could compare your arthritis product to others, you could even provide a plug for a competitor (attempting to prove yourself superior, of course). This makes your post look less like a sales or link pitch and helps make the internet more content driven like it was intended to be.
There are usually two main ways you can get a banner or link on another site without offering any content. You can pay them a fee, or you can propose a trade. Like the other two options, only target sites that are related to you in some way. Exchanges require a little research on your part. You want to search for your potential link partner to see that they are worth the trade. A easy rule of thumb is to check their pagerank compared to yours. You can use this free tool to compare at CheckPageRank.net. Put your web address in and look at your pagerank as well as theirs. If you are paying for a link and they have a pagerank of zero it would be wise to save your money. If you are trading links, use your better judgment. If they have a quality site it may be worth the exchange in hopes that their site takes off and they can share a little of their success with you.
Take note that a link from no single site will boost your website's importance significantly. Every quality link helps a little bit so you need to practice all methods for some time before you see the results you want. Stick with it and be patient.
About The Author
Mason Curry is Lead Designer for Vexart Studio Web Design.