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Search Engines Ranking - Articles

Improve the Link Popularity of your site

By Sumantra Roy

Link popularity, i.e. the number of sites which are linking to your site, is an increasingly important factor as far as search engine placement is concerned. Other things remaining the same, more the number of links to your site, higher will be its ranking.

What is important is not only the number of links to your site, but also the types of sites which are linking to you. A link from a site which is related to yours is more valuable than a link from an unrelated site.

In this article, I explore different methods by which you can improve the link popularity of your site. I start with a method that you shouldn't bother using, then go on to the moderately effective methods, and then end with the most effective methods you can use to boost the link popularity of your site.

1) Submitting your site to Free For All (FFA) pages

A common misconception among many Internet marketers is that while FFA pages may not directly bring in traffic to your site, it will help to improve the link popularity of your site, and hence, will indirectly bring in traffic through the search engines.

Nothing could be further from the truth. Most FFA pages can contain only a certain number of links at a time. This means that when you submit your site to a FFA page, your site will be placed at the top of the page. However, as more and more people submit their sites to the FFA page, your site will be pushed down, and finally, when it reaches the bottom of the page, it will be removed.

Now, since you can bet that plenty of other people are also submitting their sites to the FFA pages, your site will remain in these pages for only a short span of time. Hence, in order to ensure that the search engines see your site if and when they come to spider the FFA page, you will need to ensure that you submit your site to these FFA pages on a regular basis - at least once a week.

Even if you used an automatic submission program to do it, can you imagine a worse way to spend your time and/or money? Furthermore, many search engines recognize these pages which only contains links to other sites as FFA pages and may completely ignore them. And while I haven't yet seen any evidence that submitting to the FFA pages will actually penalize your site, there is every possibility that this might happen in the future.

Hence, when it comes to FFA pages, my advice is simple: don't even think about them.

 

2) Starting an Awards Program

A moderately effective method of improving the link popularity of your site is to start an awards program. You can have web sites which are related to yours apply for an award from your site. The sites which win the award get the chance to display the logo for your award. This logo is linked to your site, preferably to a page which contains more information on the award.

If you publish a newsletter, consider declaring the winners in your newsletter. You can also perform a review of the winners' sites in your newsletter. This adds useful content to your newsletter and also gives more webmasters the incentive to apply for your award, since you may review their sites in your newsletter. This also gives them the incentive to subscribe to your newsletter to see if they win the award.

Make sure that you give awards to only those sites which deserve to win. If you give your award to sites which don't deserve it, your award will have little credibility, which will, in turn, hurt the credibility of your company. Furthermore, make sure that the logo you design for the award looks professional. If it doesn't, not many webmasters will want to display it in their sites.

 

3) Giving testimonials

This may sound a bit unusual, but giving testimonials for products or services which you find useful can be another moderately effective way of improving the link popularity of your site. If you really like a product, simply write to the company and tell them why you liked the product so much and how it has helped you. Chances are, the company will write back to you to thank you for your comments and will ask you for permission to display your comments in their web site. Tell the company that you have no problems if they publish your comments, but request them to add a link to your site along with the testimonial. There is every possibility that the company will agree since publishing the URL of your web site gives more credibility to the testimonial.

Of course, please don't go about giving testimonials to every company you can locate just because it will improve your link popularity :-)

 

4) Posting to Message Boards and Discussion Lists

Another moderately effective method of increasing the link popularity of your site is to post to online message boards. At the end of every message that you post, you can sign off by mentioning your name and the URL of your web site. If the message board allows it, you can even include a short promotional blurb about your site at the end of your posts. However, make sure that the individual messages that are posted to that message board are archived in static HTML pages (i.e. the URLs for the individual messages should not contain a "?"). Otherwise, the search engines will consider these pages to be dynamic pages and may not spider these pages and hence, will not be able to find your link.

Email based discussion lists which are archived on the web in static HTML pages can also be used to boost the link popularity of your site in a similar manner. In this case, the signature file that you use with your email program should contain the URL for your web site.

 

5) Starting a Link Contest

A good method of improving the link popularity of your site is to give away prizes to other webmasters if they link to you. The prizes that you give out should ideally be something which other webmasters will find valuable enough to want to link to you, but which do not cost you too much. For instance, if you publish a newsletter, and have unsold ad inventory, you can give away some free advertisements in your newsletter to the winners. If you sell a software (or an ebook), you can give away a free copy of your software or ebook to the winners, since it doesn't cost you anything to produce an additional copy of digital goods like software and ebooks.

Link contests work best if you run the contest on a continuous basis and if you declare new winners frequently. If you run the contest for a few months, and then stop it, the webmasters who had linked to you will all remove their links. However, if you run it on a continuous basis, and declare new winners every month or so, the webmasters will have the incentive to keep their links to your site.

Also, make sure that you require all participants to have a link to your site either in their home page, or in an internal page of their site which is linked to their home page. Also ensure that the page which contains the link is no more than two levels deep from their home page (i.e. it should not take more than two clicks to go from the home page to the page containing the link). If they don't do this, the search engine spiders may not index the page which contains the link to your site, and hence, may not find your link.

 

6) Writing articles and allowing them to be re-published

This is an excellent method of improving the link popularity of your site. Whenever I write an article on search engine placement, I first publish it in my newsletter and then I publish the article in my site as a separate web page. I also submit it to the following article submission sites:

http://www.ezinearticles.com/
http://www.ideamarketers.com
http://www.marketing-seek.com/
http://certificate.net/wwio/ideas.shtml
http://www.web-source.net/

Many webmasters and ezine publishers frequent these article directories in search of articles. Submitting my articles to these directories gives them the opportunity of re-publishing my articles. While I have had some success with each of the above directories, by far the best among them is the ezinearticles.com directory.

Now, at the end of each article, I mention that people are free to re-publish the article as long as they include my resource box (i.e. my bio) at the end of the article. I always include the URL of my site in the resource box. This means that whenever someone publishes one of my articles in his/her web site, I have another site linking to my site. Also, many ezine publishers archive their ezines in their web sites. If they have re-published my article in a particular issue, I again get a link.

Writing articles is also an excellent viral marketing tool. As some webmasters and ezine publishers publish my articles, other webmasters and ezine publishers will read my article. Some of them, in turn, will publish my article, which will again be read by other webmasters and ezine publishers, some of whom will publish it... and so on.

Also, since only web sites related to mine would be interested in publishing my articles, all these links tend to come from related sites, which, as I mentioned earlier, are more valuable than links from unrelated sites.

Writing articles, of course, has another very important benefit - if you write good articles, it makes you known as an expert in your field. This helps to improve your credibility, which makes people more comfortable about buying your products or services.

Some notes about writing articles:

i) I have learnt through experience that some webmasters will publish other people's articles and will display the complete resource box but will not link to the URL mentioned in the resource box. In order to prevent this, you need to explicitly state that the article can be published only if the URL mentioned in the resource box is linked to your site.

ii) Your resource box should not be too long - it should be no more than 6 lines long, formatted at 65 characters per line. Otherwise, other webmasters and ezine publishers will hesitate to publish your article.

 

7) Submitting to the directories

This is by far the most important step as far as improving the link popularity of your site is concerned. As I mentioned before, what is important is not only the number of links to your site, but also the quality of the links to your site. No links are as important as links from some of the major directories like Yahoo!, the Open Directory etc. However, Yahoo! currently requires a payment of $299 per year in order to list any commercial site. Paying them $299 per year just to improve your link popularity is probably not cost effective. But, the Open Directory is free, and you should definitely get your site listed in the Open Directory.

Also, you should submit your site to as many of the smaller directories as possible. You can get a list of such directories here.

 

8) Exchanging links with other webmasters

The single-most effective way of improving the link popularity of your site is to exchange links with other webmasters who have sites which are related to yours, but are not direct competitors. This is called reciprocal linking.

However, the problem with this method is the sheer amount of time it takes if you were to do it manually.

If you decide to do this manually, you can easily expect to spend hundreds of hours on this activity alone.

Here's what you need to do:

i) You need to use the search engines to find sites related to yours that are not direct competitors by typing in some keywords that are related to your site.

ii) You also need to find sites that link to your competitors.

iii) You need to visit these sites and see if they actually exchange links.

iv) If you decide that you want to exchange links with a particular site, you need to find out exactly how it wants you to link to it from your site.

v) You then need to manually add a link to this site in your site.

vi) Then, you need to find out the email address of the owner of the website and send the owner a personalized email requesting that he/she adds a link to your site in return.

vii) In many cases, you will not be able to locate the email address of the owner simply because the owner has not published any email address on the site. In that case, all the effort that you had put into evaluating whether or not the site is suitable for exchanging links will have been a waste of time.

viii) If you do manage to locate the email address, you need to send a personalized and customized email to the website owner.

ix) You then need to wait and see whether this site is willing to exchange links with you.

x) If the site is not willing to link to you, you need to remove the link to the site from your site. Once again, all the effort that you had put into evaluating the site, linking to it and sending an email to the owner will have been a waste of time.

You have to repeat the same process all over again for the next site that you want to exchange links with.

Obviously, there has to be a better way. And there is!

Luckily for you, I have developed a ground-breaking new software called LinkExplore that completely automates the entire process of exchanging links with other website owners, thus saving you hundreds of hours of your time.

I had originally developed the software for my own needs but later decided to make it available to other website owners as well.

Click here to learn more about the software.


This article may be re-published as long as the following resource box is included at the end of the article and as long as you link to the email address and the URL mentioned in the resource box:

Article by Sumantra Roy. Sumantra is one of the most respected and recognized search engine positioning specialists on the Internet. For more articles on search engine placement, subscribe to his 1st Search Ranking Newsletter by sending a blank email to mailto:1stSearchRanking.999.99@optinpro.com or by going to http://www.1stSearchRanking.net

 

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