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Vol. 1 issue #81  Sep 23, 2003

 

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Link Building For Top Search Engine Placement (Part 1)
2003 By  Dave Davies




For many, the idea of optimizing a website for top search engine placement means entering some META tags, maybe titling the 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 the case.

There are now some 80+ factors of your website that are taken into consideration when determining the ranking of your website. Everything from titles and META's to content and ALT tags are weighed and analyzed when your placement on the search engines is determined. In a recent article by Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Search Engine Placement, he addressed the fundamentals of optimizing your web pages. The article he wrote was entitled A Ten Minute Search Engine Optimization and can be found on the StepForth website.

This article addresses many of the internal factors taken into account in determining your ranking. Another factor which has to be taken very seriously is the external links to your website. Links to your site are not the 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 the determining factor between being found and being buried in the search engine rankings.

 

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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 the fact that you will be working on both at the 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 the 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 the other major search engines look for content relationship when determining the value of a link. If the content of the two sites is totally unrelated the link is given very little weight if any. Focus only on attaining links from sites relevant to your own.

3) How does Google rate the site? Google has come out with a fantastic tool called the Google Toolbar. The advanced version of the toolbar includes the PageRank of the site you are currently visiting. Without getting into a long description of PageRank (see Google's definition), the higher the number the better (it is a ranking out of 10 where traditionally anything above 4 is good and anything above 6 is excellent. If Google rates the site well then the 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 fr'ee download available from Google at.

4) Will they require a reciprocal link? Whether the 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 the better. These links are given added weight. This area will be addressed further below.

5) How many links on the page? How many links are on the 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 the value of the link itself is greatly reduced. Also, whether your link will be on the top of the page or the bottom will also determine the value of the link itself


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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 the site has a low PageRank and the 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 the more advanced efforts (email communications with the webmaster for example) that you will want to apply the 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 the 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 the website that should be considered when determining whether to link to that website are:

1) Is the site's content related to yours? Like incoming links (sites linking to you), the relevancy of the 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, the value of these links is negligible and further, will reduce the perceived value of your site.

2) Does the site compete with you? In this case it is your interests, not those of the other webmaster, which must be taken into account. Do you want to link to a site that provides the same or similar products/services as you? Unless the site is willing to reciprocate the link and they have a very high PageRank it is probably not wise to give your visitors the opportunity to go to the 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 the case. Poor link-building is the cause of this misconception, not the link itself. When you are determining whether to link to another site, take a look at the PageRank it has been assigned by Google. Like the boost this gives to your site in the incoming links, so too can this have a positive effect on your outbound links. If all of your outbound links are to highly regarded sites (by the search engines) and their content is relevant to yours then

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Article by Dave Davies, Marketing Manager, StepForth Search Engine Placement Inc.

 
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