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… For Better Search Engine Results…

Search engines are the gateway to the Internet; they are the first tool that potential customers use to find the products and services they need. This is why link popularity is so important. If you want to see a greater return on your website investment customers need to find it!

What do I mean by Link Popularity? Link popularity refers to the ranking assigned to your website by the search engines, and it determines the ranking your page gets when keywords are entered into a search engine.

Now that you know what it means, how can you increase your link popularity? Search engines are discretionary, giving status and ranking to sites that have back links to their pages from related, sites that google has recognized as authority sites (good quality content in specific topics or niches).  Backlinks or “back links” are links from other websites to your site. They’re also known as incoming links, or inbound links. Building link popularity is a simple and very important formula to “optimize” your search results.

In fact, Google created the link popularity system as a way to identify good content from not so good.  Their goal as a search engine is to “serve” the best content results to people doing the searching. This keeps their audience happy and using Google because they know they will find what they are looking for.  Now almost every search engine uses link popularity in considering which sites should be shown first and so on.  It is called indexing a site ~ which is simply placing each site on the web in a specific order based upon the search terms a visitor uses. That is why only a few sites come up on page one… Google considers the content on those sites to better fit the search criteria than all the other similar sites of a similar.

The challenge is that the more popular (the frequency in which your keyword is used online by other websites),  the more difficult it will be to achieve link popularity.  And yet, but without achieving this
step, it is almost certain your site will never rank highly on any search engine. The good news is there are “tried and true” ways of achieving link popularity using even the most competitive keywords.

Four  ways  to  achieve supreme link popularity and improve your rankings to authority with the popular search engines.

#1. One of the quickest ways to start getting quality links to your site is getting listed in popular online directories.  These includes free directories such as Google, Yahoo and Bing; as well as DMOZ, The Open Directory Project and ZoomInfo. By the way, if you do list your site in these directories be sure and only list once because you could get banned for multiple listings of the same company. You can also show videos and photos which can be added to your listings. One thing about FREE directories is that there is no guarantee that the directories will accept your site. it can be hit or miss. But its worth a try. And DMOZ Open Directory will give you a free listing whether you are business-related or non-commercial, you may have to make a lot of follow-up inquiries before you see your site listed.

When listing your site, be as specific as possible find the best, most appropriate category. Opt for a specific over a generic listing. Otherwise you get lost in a sea of thousands and millions of other sites who have also chosen the same category/sub category. Now sometimes you have limited choices in which case you have to choose one that makes the most sense to your company.  Being in a specific geographic location helps narrow the searches down for your target audience.

Other directories can include industry or topic specific sites that are designed for one purpose. For instance, if you sell funeral flowers or serve the sympathy industry in some way, you might consider listing your site with FuneralFlowersNow.com. While it is a new directory, by being listed early you have a better chance of securing your spot.  Most directories like this require some sort of payment to be listed. The fees can range from anywhere between $10 a year to hundreds of dollars and more.  Be sure the cost to be listed is equal to or less than the benefits you will actually receive in a good quality link back to your site.

#2. Avoid competitors but find sites that list ancillary services such as the example above. Find sites that are in some way related to yours, so not only will your link popularity increase, but your customer base may also be expanded. You want to avoid your competitors and look for sites that are useful to your site’s visitors. Let’s look at the funeral flowers example. Linking to a site that offers sympathy cards, funeral services, grief counselling would also be helpful to your visitors, and the chances of the chances of those industry sites wanting to link up to your site are also greater. By linking to a related site that will be relevant to your website’s traffic, you increase both of your site’s business prospects – and both of your sites’ link popularity.

When looking for possible linking partners keep in mind that not all sites want to link to other sites. You can look to your current vendors for potential links and lets not forget the search engines themselves. Google and Bing are excellent places to begin your search. To find relevant sites enter the keywords that you know (or think) quality customers would use to find your own site.

Remember, your criteria are quality, highly ranked, non-competing websites that have a links or resources page. One word of caution, if the resource page has too many links, try finding other sites to link to. The search engine rule of thumb is no more than 20 links per page.  Go to these sites and objectively assess them. Look at the quality of their offerings, the graphics, and the ease of use.

Then check out the other sites they are linked to, and determine if your own site would be a good fit.

Once you have decided which sites to approach, add their link to your resources lists. When you do that, you have a better chance of getting a reciprocal link (they do the same for you). Then reach out to the appropriate person from the other website (generally the webmaster or marketing person).  This is almost always done by email. Make sure your message is clear and that it does not look like spam or junk mail. You can do this by telling them that you have added a link to your site (and why- because it would benefit YOUR Visitors).

Make sure you emphasize that you have actually visited their site, and that their site is not just a random pick. Give them the address of your links page, and ask them to check out the link for themselves. It’s a good idea to mention that they will not only benefit from the increased traffic your website will direct their way, but you will also increase their link popularity.

Briefly, explain why link popularity is so essential (in a sentence or two) Finally, tell them you would greatly appreciate if they would reciprocally add a link on their own links page to your website. Unfortunately some site owners will ignore your email, but you would be surprised how many will actually reply and even consider your request.  

#3. Repeat this process often, keeping in mind the criteria ~ quality, relevance and non-competing websites.  Keep track of the sites you have approached and check them frequently to see if they have added a link to your page. Give it about a month, and if no link appears, try another compelling email. Then give it another month, and if your site is still not present on their links page, it’s time to remove their link from your site. That’s it. Don’t keep bothering them because chances are they are ignoring your emails or have no intention of adding your link to their site.

#4. Contribute Content to other sites such as blogs, websites, news portals, wikis and other authority websites with targetted traffic.  When you do, you can use the bio or resource box at the end of the article or content to direct traffic back to yoru site. And the other benefit is that you are perceived as an authority or expert in that community.

#5. Participate in online communities that are indexed by the search engines. They include video sharing sites such as YouTube, LinkedIn Groups and Facebook among others.  Share relevant content from your website with a link to more information.

You might be saying to yourself this sounds pretty easy, but  Link Popularity takes lots of time. It does. And lots of patience. That is why the search engines give it such importance.

In the next article we will share four more tips to make sure your linking strategy is successful.

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