Links and Linking for Search Engine Optimization
By Donovan Baldwin
There are many Internet marketing techniques available to the Internet marketer, and one of these is search engine optimization, or SEO. SEO itself also has many techniques of its own.
While many articles on this site will deal with search engine optimization, this particular article, as its title implies, deals with some aspects of search engine optimization in general, and with links, linking, back links, and reciprocal links in particular.
This article is in no way the last word on search engine optimization. This is particularly true as many search engines keep changing their rules and the serious Internet marketer is hard pressed to keep up with them anyway!
I do hope, however that it will give the Internet marketing beginner some insight into the subject of search engine optimizaton and linking. Perhaps it will not only help the new entrepreneur start an Internet business, but also help improve their chance for success, and aid them in their attempt to make money online.
Despite how it may seem to someone attempting to start an Internet business, search engine optimization is not magic, and it does tend to incorporate a few simple Internet marketing techniques. When followed, these steps, methods, or actions CAN increase the visibility and ranking of an Internet marketing website in a search engine's returns. It is popularly, and fairly accurately, understood that most people will pick a site from those listed on the first page of a search's results. However, that is not always the final spot that everyone picks from, nor is every site in exact competition with yours nor attractive to search engines for the same reasons, or keywords, or content as yours.
Linking is just one of many Internet marketing techniques and search engine optimization tools that can be extremely effective in leading both search engines and humans to your website.
In most instances, when someone searches on a particular word or phrase, one of the first acts of many search engines will be to take a look at the titles of the websites it has indexed and see if anything seems to match. It will then commonly scan the first few lines of text on the page to see if that search term is there, and how often it appears. It cannot be assumed, however, that every search engine follows this exact pattern, and, even if they should do so, most tend to then refine the initial results by viewing other pieces of data about the website.
Good website design should include facts for the search engine robots and aspects which make it easy to look at and use by the human visitor.
In fact, one reason that search engine optimization IS more an art than a science is due to these variables which are looked at by each search engine and the importance they are given by that particular search engine. It is even possible to optimize a site for one search engine and injure its ranking in another! Some Internet marketers attempt to get around this by actually creating individual web pages which have been optimized for different search engines or even keywords!
So, where does linking fit into this discussion?
Well, one way that many, probably most, search engines can be induced to raise the ranking or placement of a site is accomplished thru linking with sites of value. When speaking of "linking" most people are going to be speaking of external links leading to the site from other websites. I am going to include some internal linking discussion as well.
So, we will be covering:
LINKS FROM OTHER SITES:
As in many other areas of Internet marketing, the "quality" of the links which lead to your site may be of more importance than the overall quantity of links. It should also be a consideration that sites that you try to have link to your site be relevant to the main topic of your site. A willy-nilly bundle of sites, many of which have little to do with your area of interest, can actually lower your ranking in some search engines.
One common linking tactic is to find the front runners, the sites which appear towards the top in search results for searches on keywords and subjects relevant to your site. Then, you communicate with the site owners or webmasters in hopes of getting them to create a back link to your site. In some cases, a reciprocal link may be requested, but, despite some accounts to the negative, having a link from a valuable site will increase the value of your site, even with the reciprocal link.
Why would someone link to YOUR site in the first place...especially, if you are not providing a reciprocal link. Hopefully, your site is relevant and of a quality that would encourage the attentions of a webmaster hoping to elevate the value of his or her site by providing quality information to their visitors.
If you are a fishing guide, the website of a rod and reel manufacturer may want to include a link to your site, for example. Internet marketers are sometimes a jealous breed, so getting one to offer a quality link to this site you are currently on may be difficult. On the other hand, I have several articles on health and fitness at another site, and there are many links to those article, or to the main page of the site, on many other sites around the Internet.
To take this a step further, if the first sites you see are valuable, you should also take a look at the sites that link to them! It is a good chance that THEY help contribute to the rank of the first sites you saw, and would probably therefore be of importance to you as well.
Having belabored the point about getting links from relevant quality sites, I still feel it is necessary to tell you point blank to avoid link farms. Don't just go to any old site that says they will link to you and insert your site's info.
LINKS WITHIN YOUR OWN SITE:
While these are not normally included in most discussions of search engine optimization, the internal links within your own site can be of some importance. Once you have a visitor to your site, providing them with an easy means of navigation can encourage them to stay and wander around for a while. You can see, of course, that all the search engine optimization in the world won't do much good if they leave and go elsewhere after reading one or two sentences.
If you can provide them with the opportunity to review other aspects and areas of your website can be important even if it is not officially a search engine optimization technique.
However, internal linking within your site can also be an important part of search engine optimization, particularly when you realize that Google, and some other search engines, tend treat each page of your site as almost a separate site. There seems to be some indication that even links from other pages within your site can be used as part of the evaluation process of the search engine.
Additionally, providing a complete listing of site pages in some sort of logical manner makes it easier for search engine spiders to find, crawl, and index all the pages of your site.
This thought brings us to...
In its simplest form, a sitemap is nothing but a logically (thank you Mr. Spock) designed, er well...map...of the pages of the site. It is usually a page in itself, may commonly be in XML or HTML format, provides links to, and sometimes descriptions or titles of, the pages within the site. Once the search engine has found this important page, it is a piece of cake for it to crawl and index every page on your site. If you have been doing SEO to all your pages, you have just raised an eyebrow or two on the search engine spider.
You can currently get a free sitemap at www.xml-sitemaps.com. Simply upload the finished product to your site and then submit the sitemap to Google and other search engines or directories.
In all that I have learned or encountered in the areas of search engines and search engine optimization, two points seem to come through again and again:
1. Make sure everything you do adds quality and value to your site.
2. Don't count on what worked yesterday to work today.
Search engines are continually evolving to meet the needs of THEIR customers while providing quality service and they expect the same from you.
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Keywords: Search Engine Optimization, SEO, Linking, Reciprocal Links, Back Links, Start an Internet Business, Internet Marketing Techniques
Page Updated 9:57 AM Monday 10/01/2012