October 21, 2010
You may be at a point where your site has lots of usable and compelling content. Unfortunately this isn’t always enough to gain new readers and revenue. It could be time to build a link strategy to boost your brand authority and site ranking. The way to begin is by making partnerships, starting conversations and trading links so more webmasters (and their readers) know who you are.
Why? The majority of computers and much of the media are now social, so it’s time for you to break out of your bubble.
Getting your site optimized can be time consuming and often you won’t see the results of the labor for a few weeks, if not months. A site that ranks well is the outcome of shrewd planning and lots of effort with few shortcuts. You have to make good decisions early in the process to gain a good amount of momentum. Basic SEO strategy is a lengthy process, and you can find out smart ways to begin here.
Similarly, incorporating social media into the public face of your business is a long process that will take time to reach its potential. Success in social media relies on cooperation and engagement with your clients and customers (and sometimes even your competitors). Where do you begin?
Basic Inbound Links: Inbound links are widely regarded as a necessity for high ranking in the search engine listings. Search engines view links to web sites as a vote in favor of their importance. If popular sites like your site, then search engines like your site. It resembles how high school cliques are formed. What this means is the more authoritative a site, the more powerful their link seems to search engines. If the link goes to your site, then search engines think your site also holds part of that authority. The authority of a site is gauged by its page rank (PR). This is a standard 1 to 10 scale Google assigns to pages based on hundreds of qualifications, 10 being the highest rank with most authority.
Part of best practices in building page rank and authority is submitting links to directories and sites that point back to your site. But don’t waste much time sending tons of random links out to directories with very low PR. Your time is better spent sending a few well-optimized links to popular sites that share context with content on your site. For example, if your business sells consumer electronics, then you want links from authoritative sites that review electronics brands you sell.
Other important aspects of in-bound links are:
* Don’t do too much too fast. The rate of increase for incoming links should never be more than 20% per month. If too many inbound links pop up at once, search engines get nervous and your authority may suffer.
* The links should contain phrase-rich descriptors (page descriptions, alt tags for photo links, and/or your business name). The link structures should vary from site to site – they don’t have to be wildly different, just dissimilar.
* Social Media can be a powerful tool in building both traffic and PR for your website if you adhere to a few rules. More about that later.
What are the Main Inbound Link Types?
Directional Links: These are standard links back to your site from a variety of web sites and directories that include a combination of title, short description, and/or a business logo.
Content Links: These are links to your site found within the body of content authored by you. The content is usually several paragraphs of text and infographics such as a press release, a blog post, research and white papers, or other information-based articles.
Social Media Links: Using social media sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others are a great way to see who is saying something about you, but also a good way to tell others what you’re doing. You can also offer your services as an industry resource or expert who gives advice to those who need it. The overall requirement is simple, but time-consuming: participate in conversations, don’t just sell.
Social Sharing Links: These are referenced from media objects (e.g. videos, images, etc) that serve to indicate the author of the object. This strategy can include posting of “how to” videos on your related topics as well as creating a variety of directional links from bookmarking sites like StumbleUpon or De.licio.us.
In the next chapter, we’ll discuss Directional Links and Content Links and where you can begin building them for inbound traffic boosts.
Andrew Schiller is an SEO and Social Media Specialist at SPIDERtel Web Solutions of Kansas City and works to help clients and other professionals get familiarized with the changing landscape of internet marketing in the Web 2.0 landscape.