Drive Traffic To Your Web Site Through Links
In today's virtual world, small businesses compete daily to drive traffic to their Web sites.
Good optimization certainly helps draw visitors, but without quality inbound links an important part of the equation is missing, say experts.
Link-building, which involves getting other Web sites to link to your own, cannot only help boost search engine rankings but also increase online visibility.
"Links are one of the top ways people find their way to a Web site," explains Jennifer Laycock, editor of Search Engine Guide in Houston, which teaches small businesses how to market online.
Also, search engines like Google, in particular, look at the number and quality of links when assessing the value of a Web site and how it will be ranked, she explains.
"They look at inbound links as a vote of confidence," adds Andrew Hazen, author of "Search Engine Optimization: Plain & Simple" (Angel Dough Media; $29.95) and chief executive of Prime Visibility, an Internet marketing firm in Melville.
So how do you go about building these crucial links?
Well, it's more about quality than quantity, notes Hazen.
"You want relevant links," he adds.
To get started, do a Google search plugging in keywords related to your industry, products and/or services, he says. See what competitors come up and investigate who's linking back to them. You can check backward links by downloading the Google Toolbar (http://toolbar.google.com) and clicking on backward links. This will show you everyone linking to a particular site and give you leads on Web sites you may want to contact, Hazen says.
Just make sure the sites you're considering are credible and worth linking to, he notes. You can check their Google PageRank through the Google Toolbar. Look for Web sites that have a PageRank of three and above on a scale of zero-10, suggests Hazen. Also, check out http://www.bad-neighborhood.com/text-link-tool.htm.
If you're a member of an industry association or chamber of commerce, ask if it would provide a link back to your site, suggests Bill Treloar, owner of Rank Magic in East Hanover, N.J., which specializes in search engine optimization.
If you sell a product, ask your vendors for a link, notes Treloar, who also recommends submitting your site to be listed in Web directories like the Open Directory (dmoz.org), GoGuides.org and Skaffe.com. Some directories like DMOZ are free, while others, like Yahoo Directory are fee-based.
Writing articles and news releases can be a good way to get inbound links, Hazen says. You can submit an informative article to a site like ezinearticles.com and include your information on the bottom with a link back to your site, he notes. Contact organizations and companies that might benefit from your article and see whether they'd also post it on their site.
Just make sure that your Web site has enough quality content to attract other sites, says Tony Valado, digital strategist for The EGC Group, an ad and marketing firm in Melville.
"If you have excellent content, people are going to want to link to you," he says.
So make your site as informative as possible, advises Valado.
Beyond that, try to leverage social media sites like Facebook and Twitter to engage customers and draw visitors back to your site, suggests Jason Stephens of Lounge Lizard Worldwide, an interactive design firm in Bohemia.
"Social media is the future of networking and getting quality links to your site," he says, noting that you can answer questions, create buzz, form groups, and post photos/videos as well as articles and links on these sites.
The idea is to throw your net out as far as you can.
"The more you throw on the wall, hopefully something will stick," says Ron Kahane, president of BoxesDelivered.com in Deer Park. The company, which uses Prime Visibility for its link-building, has more than 100 inbound links to its site.
"That's what drives traffic," Kahane says.
Lessons In Link-Building
In the beginning, it can take some effort getting other sites to link to yours, particularly those inundated with requests.
A key component of link- building is developing relationships, says Jennifer Laycock of SearchEngineGuide.com.
Try to cultivate a relationship by starting a conversation with a prospective link partner before soliciting a link.
Leave a comment on their Web site/blog or engage them through social media sites.
"You need to view link- building the same way you build any other relationship," she says.
About The Author: Jamie Herzlich writes a "Small Business" column for Newsday, Long Island, New York.
Source: Newsday * December 22, 2008 *
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