Linking Up to Boost Popularity

You’ve no doubt read that in order for your website to rank well in the search engines, such as Google, your site needs to attract links. However there is so much information online on how to get those links that it can become overwhelming – and if you follow the wrong advice your site can be penalised by the very search engines you want to rank in. This guide is aimed at providing you with simple, step by step information on how to attract the right links to your website – links that not only help you rank highly in the search engines but will also help you attract targeted visitors to your website.

What is Link Building?

Link building is an exercise in getting another website to link to your website. Google were the first search engine that deemed that the popularity of a website would be partially determined by the number of links that website had from other sites. The more links to a site, the more popular it was thought to be, and the more highly ranked it would be in Google. It didn’t take long for people to realise that in order to rank well for their chosen keywords they needed to get links to their site and hence the beginning of the link building revolution.

Link building has evolved over the years. In the beginning a link from almost any site would help you, especially if the link contained the keywords you were targeting. So if you ran a car hire website in Brisbane a link with the words “car hire Brisbane” in it would go a long way in helping your search engine rankings, especially for the term “car hire brisbane”.

All good things must come to an end and it did with link building. As more and more people started manipulating links the search engines fought back and upped the ante on what constituted a valuable link. These days not all links are created equal. Links from more popular, reputable websites carry far more value than those from smaller unknown sites. In addition links from websites within your theme carry far more weight than links from a site with no relevance to yours. So again if you ran a car hire business in Brisbane links from a Queensland Tourism website and local B & B accommodation operators would be far more valuable to you than a links from a crocheting hobbyist websites in Arizona.

Benefits of Link Building

There are two main benefits of getting other websites to link to you:

  1. Links help you rank highly in the search engines; and
  2. Links from relevant websites can send targeted visitors to your site.

1. Boost Your Search Engine Rankings

As I stated above the more links you have to your website the higher your search engine rankings will be. This in turn means that you should attract more visitors to your website – more visitors that you can convert into sales, leads, customers or subscribers.

2. Attract Targeted Visitors To Your Website

A great additional benefit of getting links from high quality, on topic websites is that they should send targeted visitors to your site. Visitors who are already interested in what you have to offer and are ready for conversion into customers.

So How Do I Get Links To My Website?

There are hundreds of ways to attract links to your website. I’ll detail some of the more popular methods below and also provide links to some great resources which will help you further. One thing to keep in mind. If you have a fantastic website full of valuable content in your chosen field you’ll find your website attracts links without you even trying. This is a strategy I recommend to all our clients.

Website Directories

Website directories have been around for as long as the internet. In fact Yahoo! started as a directory long before search engines became the place to find what you are looking for.

Directories aren’t the most popular way of getting links but I always recommend you focus on getting links from at least the most important. There are both paid and free directories that you can list your site in – try for a mixture of both.

Local directories, focusing on your immediate are is one area to explore. It’s also a good idea to try and list your website in niche directories focused on your business’s theme. Searching Google for your theme plus “directory” is a good place to start.

Reciprocal Links

Reciprocal links are links that you generally swap with other websites – you add their link to your website and they do likewise. Getting reciprocal links can be a time consuming process but one that I definitely recommend.

To get started I recommend finding websites within, or that compliment, your niche. Spend some time on the sites and make an effort to see how our sites can compliment each other.

When you are fully informed it’s time to craft an email to the site suggesting that you swap links. Try and get a contact name so you can make your approach more personal. If at first you don’t succeed don’t give up. As I said above reciprocal linking takes time and patience but the results are well worth it.

Links From Clients and Suppliers

A great place to get links is from your clients and suppliers. You already have a relationship with them which should help the process go smoother. The links cold be in the form of testimonials, client list or recommended suppliers.

Local Business Links

Are you part of a local business organisation that you cold ask for a link from? Are you or could you sponsor a local sports team, radio station or the like and request a link as part of the deal. What other local relationships do you have that you could use to get links to your website?

Create Link Worthy Content

Finally as I said above if your website has interesting, unique content you should naturally find other websites linking to you. Another benefit of this content is it should also help your prospects learn more about your business and skills, can show that you are an expert in your field and can help them choose you in their decision making process.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Create a newsletter.
  2. Write a blog.
  3. Run a promotion or competition.
  4. Create an industry glossary.
  5. Write articles and create other information of use for your prospects.

A Note of Caution

Finally you need to keep in mind that not all links are desired. When researching potential sites to get a link ask yourself whether you would feel proud or embarrassed about having a link on their site. Are they a website you would do business with? If the answer is no they do not, I repeat do not put your link on their website. As much as links from good, reputable websites can help you links from “bad” websites can hurt you.

Summing It Up

Building the links to your website are a great way to help boost your search engine rankings. However getting those links is a time consuming task. Don’t let that daunt you. Treat it as a long term strategy and spend a few hours a week working at it. Over time you will see, and reap, the rewards of your labour.

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Counting “Hits” is a Miss

In the early days on the Internet website traffic was measured in “hits”. It was never an accurate guide to the number of visitors to your website but it took off anyway.

Over time many of us in the biz have tried to educate people about the correct terms to use (page views, visitors, unique visitors and so forth) with varying success. And it’s always frustrating when you hear someone refer to “hits” as you know just how much education is going to be required. So it was with great joy that I read the following quote in Lance Loveday and Sandra Niehaus’s fantastic book Web Design For ROI:

If your standard answer includes the words “hits” please take a moment to close this book and whack yourself in the head with it. There. Now remember that every time you’re tempted to use that term again. It’s an open secret in the web design community that anyone who uses the word “hits” in reference to their website most likely has no idea what they are talking about. Just don’t tell anyone we told you.”

Hehe. Seriously though analysing your website traffic is a vital part of running your online business. It can take a bit to get a handle on but is well worth doing. Here are some resources to get you started:

Web Analytics Demystified – by Eric Peterson
Google Analytics – probably the best free web analytics program around.
Measuring Your Web Site – great forum threads from Cre8asite.
Hurol Inan – web analytics guru.
Web Design For ROI – get the book.

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The State of Online Retailing in Australia

ZDNet Australia’s Jude Willis has written a great post Why eBay tried to screw Aussie users. Apart from it’s discussion on the failed eBay PayPal debacle it has some great insight into the lack of an online shopping industry in Australia.

Some interesting points:

“According to Jenny Wilson, lead technology partner for Deloitte Australia, consumer confidence with online transactions has been scaring even the major, trusted brands away moving beyond bricks & mortar.”

“Predominantly, Australian retail chains use their websites to spellcheck their catalogues and offer cryptic advice as to how to locate your nearest store. Any online shopping is restricted to baffling lines of merchandise that barely represents their total product range.”

It goes on to quote Jenny Wilson who states that online retail in Australia is two or three years behind other countries.

Apart from the lack of consumer confidence I’d suggest that the inherently small size of the Australian market has a lot to do with the lack of online retailers in Australia. And with the Aussie dollar almost on a par with the US that leaves us doing our online shopping overseas. Which is a shame, cause I know I’d do a lot more locally if I was able to.

How about you?

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