April 15, 2008
The reason Google is the most successful search engine in the world is because they provide the best search results; pages ranked by tangible value. That tangible value is a combination of content and links, with links being the more important factor (they assume any pages linking in will only link to good content or risk their own ranking.)
Here are a few tips that will help you take full advantage of Google’s love of linking…
1.) Link Deep and with Relevance
So why is deeper better and what’s this about relevance? Google figured out that a link to a homepage is only good if that homepage has the information the visitor needs. If a person clicks a link for “amazing chocolate chip cookie recipe” and ends up on the home page, which has nothing of the sort, Google discounts it as a wasted link. On the other hand, if the link leads to the page containing info on the “Amazing Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe,” even five levels deep, the link has huge value to the visitor and to Google.
Want some proof? You already have it if you’ve ever used Google’s AdWords pay per click service. They will not even accept PAID links to pages that are not the most relevant for their visitors, regardless of what you are willing to pay per click. Now that’s saying something!
2.) Use Absolute Links Internally
It sounds complicated but it’s not. Absolute links are those with a fixed full URL. There’s another kind, called “relative” links that skip the first part of the domain and remain “relative” to the file structure. Let’s take a look at the difference…
Here’s the absolute link to the Google Ads page from Google’s homepage: “http://www.google.com/intl/en/ads/”
Here’s what it might look like as a relative link: “./intl/en/ads/”
Long story short; absolute links help your SEO efforts and relative links don’t.
3.) Use Keywords in Anchor Text
Use relevant keywords in your link anchor text (that is the text within the hyperlink.) Forget about “Click Here” like you see on so many sites. Not only does that not help your ranking, it actually lowers the relevancy of your real keywords because Google believes that if a word is important enough it will likely be used as part of a link to get the visitor where they want to go.
4.) Follow the 1% Solution
Make no more than 1% of your page text into links (both outbound and internal.) That is, if you have 500 words on the page there should be no more than 5 text links total. And don’t overuse the same keyword text for the links. So if you have three mentions each of three different keywords, try to use each just once in a link. Then use similar text for any remaining links.
Example: If “chocolate chip cookies” is your main keyword phrase you might use “chocolate chip cookies” as the anchor text for one link and then “my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe” for another link.
It’s also a good idea to use 10 Links Max per page whether you have 1,000 words or 10,000 words on that page.
5.) Add a Link Failsafe
This is really simple and almost nobody does it. Links get broken more often than we like. Sometimes it’s because we moved a page and sometimes it has nothing to do with anything we consciously did (especially with blogs.) The solution is to create a custom 404 page (Page Not Found) that looks just like any other page on your site and has a simple note like “We’re sorry we cannot find the page you are looking for. However, if you love cookies of all kinds we think you’ll find exactly what you want by clicking on one of the following links…” Then of course you have a navigation system for them to follow.
6.) Get the Best Links Possible
This is extremely important yet often overlooked because it can be such a difficult and time consuming job. If you take nothing else away from this article, please take this… Finding the best possible inbound links is the single most important thing you can do to make the number one spot on Google.
Here are three tips to help minimize your time and effort while giving you results SEO experts charge an arm and a leg for.
A.) Get listed in directories.
Submit your site to the top directories like Jayde.com and DMOZ.org. Once they link to your site you will have great relevant inbound links and some instant credibility with Google.
Here are some great free directories in order of value, starting with the best… dmoz.org, jayde.com, webworldindex.com, turnpike.net, and directoryvault.com. Yahoo is important but charges $299 for commercial site inclusion.
B.) Use “Special Commands” to do the legwork for you.
The best linked sites can easily be found with a simple search command called “allinanchor:” Here’s how to use it. Go to Google and type in “allinanchor:keyword goes here” (no quotes and no space after the colon.) Now hit Enter and you’ll see the sites that have the highest relevancy for keywords used in anchor text. Look for any that you know are competitors and outrank your site.
Now take the URL for any of these and use this command “link:www.theirdomain.extension” (again with no quotes and no space after the colon.) This will show you all the sites linking in as well as internal pages linking back in.
In short, these two special commands give you an inside look at exactly how the competition does what it does with the results they get. This is huge!
C.) Use good SEO software whenever possible.
If you can afford to spend one or two hundred dollars to save huge amounts of time and get professional results, it’s well worth it. Like many SEO professionals whose livelihood depends on results, I’ve been using SEO software to get top search engine placement for years. The best ones not only help you identify great link partners but will even help you contact them and make sure they don’t cheat you in any way. I use SEO Elite (http://www.SEOeliteWeb.com) and am still amazed by all it can do.
If possible, get a tool that also does rank checking and reporting. Once you begin you’ll want to check rankings every so often and an automated tool will save you a ton of time. Oddly enough I bought SEO Elite primarily for rank checking then discovered it was worth its weight in gold as linking tool as well. So whatever tool you use, get as much out of it as you can. You might be pleasantly surprised.
Mike Small is the founder of the free SEO (search engine optimization) site http://www.SEOpartner.com and author of numerous search engine optimization books and whitepapers including the SEO Notebook.