|Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Information|
All About Links -- Interview With Link Building Expert , Bob Gladstein
Julia: Welcome Bob. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions about link building. I'm going to jump right in ask you why Web sites need links?
Bob: There are a number of reasons to have links pointing to your site. But let's start with the reason they were created in the first place. The original purpose of the Internet was to enable the sharing of information. For example, if a scholarly paper existed on a server at the University of California, and a professor at Oxford wanted to read it, the Internet made that instantly possible. Now, if the Oxford professor had a paper that referenced information from the UC paper, they could link directly to that other document rather than just quoting from it. So a hyperlink was intended as a way of connecting data, ideas, and references together. It's like saying, "if you'd like further information on this topic, here's a place to find it."
When the Google search engine was created, its developers took this into account. And drew the conclusion that a link was an indication that the page being linked to was relevant to some particular subject-matter.
So that's a rather long introduction to a short answer to your question. Web sites need links because they send traffic that's already targeted to their subject matter to other sites, and because they help the search engines determine both their theme and what the web as a community deems their importance to be. Basically (although not absolutely), the more links that point to a page, the more relevant that page is determined to be. In addition, links are now considered the most reliable way (apart from paying) to get a site into the search engines in the first place.
While both Google and Yahoo allow you to submit a site to their index, it's clear that the best way to get the search engines to pay attention to your site is to get a page that their spiders already know about to link to yours. The spiders then follow that link to your site, and add it to their index.
Julia: Thanks, Bob. But there are different types of links aren't there? Can you explain differences?
Bob: As we discussed in the previous question, there are text links from other sites. Some of these are reciprocal (that is, they link to you and you link back to them) and others are one-way (the owner of the other site decides, for whatever reason, to link to your site and doesn't expect you to link back).There are also image links: banners, buttons, etc. These have the advantage of standing out visually from the rest of the page, but many people have become immune to the standard banner ad and just ignore them, because it's assumed they're just advertisements, and as such, not necessarily relevant to the page on which they appear.
Then there are directory listings, where a link to your site appears on a page containing links to numerous other sites in what the directory editor has determined to be your particular niche.
There are also links that won't help you at all, or will put you in danger of losing your position on the search engines. Guestbook spam, the practice of going to a site's guest book area and posting a message like "Nice site. Come visit mine, at?" will do you no good. The search engines know that such links carry no value, and just ignore them. The same is true for free-for-all links pages, on which you can immediately add a link to any site, without any editorial oversight.
Link farms are a far more dangerous subject. These are networks of sites that are heavily cross-linked and offer to link to you as long as you link back into the network, or host a page on your site that serves as a directory of sites that the link farm has linked to. The idea here is to abuse the power search engines give to links by exponentially increasing the number of links to your site, without regard for theme or value. You link into the farm, and you have hundreds, perhaps thousands of links pointing back to you. But the links are only there to increase link popularity. The sites on which the links reside are not intended to actually be viewed by people; they're just intended to give search engine spiders the mistaken impression that your site is extraordinarily popular.
Julia: So, what's the best way to get legitimate and relevant sites to link to yours?
Bob: Before you can get a site to link to yours, you first have to find it. You need to do research on the subject-matter of your site by searching on the keywords you hope people will use to find it. The results of those searches will give you a list of sites that are already performing well for those keywords. You should then study those sites, so that you can write to the webmaster and request a link in such a way that demonstrates that you understand the purpose of their site. And give reasons as to why you think their audience will find your site of interest.
You can buy links from sites as well, sometimes on a single page, and sometimes all across the site. These are just like any other form of advertising. So before you part with your money you need to determine if they're worth the purchase price by deciding if they'll send you enough of the right traffic. That's why sites that offer the opportunity to buy links will make claims about how much traffic they get and how their audience is made up of "decision makers."
Finally, there are directories, which normally require you to drill down to find the most relevant category for your listing. You can then (depending on the directory) either contact them with your information, or fill out a form on the directory itself and request a listing.
Julia: What would you say to Web site owners who are reluctant to use links because they think it will take people away from their site?
Bob: For one thing, a Web site without any off-site links is a dead end, and there is some evidence to suggest that search engines view sites that don't link out as being less valuable.
Unless you're willing to pay, you may have a hard time convincing people to link to you if you're not planning on linking back to them. But it's still possible, especially if you've got content that's so good people will want to link to you anyway, but it's definitely harder to get one-way links than reciprocal ones. I'm not suggesting that people link directly to their competitors. The idea is to link to sites that complement the content that you're providing. By doing so, you're contributing to the impression that your site is an authority on your theme: not only do you have great information, but you have links to other sources of information. That's another reason for people to come back to your site more often. And if you're still worried about sending people away from your site and never seeing them again, you can set your off-site links to open in a new window, by adding target="_blank" to the code for the link. If you do this, however, it's a good idea for usability purposes to let people know that the link will open in a new window. Otherwise, people who have their browser windows maximized may not realize what's happened, and should they try to get back to your site by hitting their back button they're likely to be confused when it fails to take them anywhere.
Julia: We often hear the term "Anchor text". Can your explain what this means and why it's important?
Bob: Anchor text is the part of a text link that's visible on the page. On a Web page, that would look like this: Search Engine Marketing and Copywriting Services. "Search Engine Marketing and Copywriting Services" is the anchor text. What's important about it is that it tells both the user and the search engine spider what the page the link points to is about. In a search engine optimization project, getting links to your site that use your keywords in the anchor text helps to get your page to rank higher for those keywords. That's why it's important to have something other than "click here" as anchor text.The power of anchor text can be seen by the example of the practice of "Googlebombing," in which numerous sites will link to a particular page using the same anchor text. If enough sites do it, Google will rank that page at the top of its listings for searches on that text. George W. Bush' biography page on the site of the White House is still number one in Google for the query "miserable failure" about half a year after that particular Googlebomb was created. Whether or not you personally agree that those words do a good job of describing Mr. Bush, Google accepts what it sees as the opinion of the general online community. If enough pages tell Google that miserable failure George W. Bush, then as far as Google is concerned, it must be true.
Julia: Another thing we hear a lot about is Pagerank?-a tool webmasters often use to determine whether a site is worth linking to or not. What does this mean?
Bob: PageRank (not to be confused with "page rank") is a part of Google's algorithm for ranking pages. There are numerous theories as to how it's calculated, but only Google knows for certain. In any case, that's not important to this discussion. What matters is that PageRank is a measure of the value of a page based on the links pointing to it, the value of the pages on which those links reside,and the number of other links that are on those pages. It's strictly numerical, and has absolutely nothing to do with relevance or value to the reader. In other words, if I have a page about Shakespeare, and I link to two pages, one about Shakespeare, and the other about the care and feeding of parakeets, the same amount of PageRank will be passed to both of those pages. The fact that one of those pages is about the same subject as my page does not enter into the calculation.
You can see an estimation of the PageRank of a given page if you have the Google toolbar installed. But it's important to keep in mind that PageRank is not everything, nor is it the most important thing. It's one of many factors Google takes into account when it ranks pages for queries, and it's not at all uncommon to see that a site that ranks on the top of a SERP (search engine results page) has a lower PageRank than the pages below it on the SERP.
One of the reasons people believe that PageRank is important is that if you do a backlink check in Google by typing "link:www.site.com" in the search box, you'll generally (but not absolutely) only see pages that link to the URL in question and have a PageRank of 4/10 or higher. People have taken this to mean that a link from a page with a lower PR doesn't count, and that simply isn't true. It's true that, all other things being equal, the higher the PR of a page linking to yours, the more PR it's going to pass to your page, but as I said, PR is just one aspect of Google's algorithm, and every link apart from the troublesome ones we spoke of earlier has some value.
It's also worth keeping in mind that a page that shows a PR of 2/10 in the toolbar today may have a 5/10 or 6/10 a few months from now.When I'm looking for sites from which I may wish to request links, the only time what I see in the toolbar matters to me is when I see that it has no PageRank at all. Assuming the site isn't new, that can sometimes be an indication that the site has done something which caused Google to demote it. That is, it may be what Google refers to as a "bad neighborhood," and as such, you should be extra careful in checking it out before you agree to link back to it.
Julia: Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge, Bob! I hope you all will check out Bob's site at www.raisemyrank.com for more information about his company.
About The Author
Julia is an independent copywriter specializing in advertising and search engine marketing services. To learn more about how Julia can help boost your company's profits visit her site at www.juliahyde.com. You may also like to sign up for Marketing Works! Julia's monthly ezine. Visit her website or email Julia for details.
Search Engine Marketing Hype Killing Small Businesses
Think about the first thing you ever heard about "marketing a website" on the web. 99% of the time the first words anyone ever hears are "search engine marketing." Or some semblance of the phrase.
If You Could Submit Just One Page To The Search Engines Which Should It Be?
Listen. Some make submitting pages to search engines sound like the fast track to search engine ranking nirvana. Not to mention you'll see offers to submit your site to a scadzillion sites for some low nominal fee.
Buying Textlinks: The Latest SEO Craze
With search engine algorithms changing seemingly daily, the quest to rank high in the search engines and stay there is proving to be quite the challenge for most webmasters. One of the more recent popular ways of achieving this is through buying text links on websites that have high PR's (page ranks) on Google and that also rank well in the other major search engines. Is buying text link placement worth it?
Keywords, Choose Them Wisely
By now you have likely heard that keywords and keyword phrases, are extremely important in having search engines display your website. So how do you choose them? Guess? Ask a friend? Check successful competitors sites? There is a better way!
Most Overlooked Search Engine Optimization Technique
Some of the basics when it comes to SEO and getting high ranking in search engines starts with using a keyword and then placing it strategically throughout the website in content, title, headline, etc. Using the keyword multiple times in your content is great, but lets look at something that a lot of websites completely overlook.
Non-Reciprocal Link Building For Higher Search Engine Positioning
Non-Reciprocal Link Building For Higher Search Engine Positioning By Dave Davies, Beanstalk Search Engine Positioning, Inc.
Can Invisible Text in CSSs Slip Under Search Engine Radar?
I'm literally inundated with questions on the subject of invisible text & hosting so in I thought I'd debunk some myths and give you the facts straight up.
Does Google Hire Mad Scientists?
Online search giant, Google, often tests the waters for new services by rolling out a "beta" (first) version of an idea to gauge public reaction.
Is a High Search Engine Ranking Important for YOU?
In the process of designing a website for clients the question inevitibly arises "How do I get a good search engine ranking?". This is a very good point and the answer is not as clear cut as you may think.
What Is Waiting for Us? Tomorrows SEO Industry
Today, SEO is swiftly approaching saturation point. More and more webmasters realise the necessity of learning SEO basics, and as they do so, SEO professionals are facing difficulties finding new clients. With all the niche sites optimised, it will be harder to compete for good key phrases. Link building opportunities will be easily found and utilised by everyone, keyword density will reach its optimum value, meaning that the SERPs will consist of equally good and equally relevant sites - at least from the traditional SEO point of view.
Importance of Keywords in Anchor Text or Title Text
Keywords are indisputably, the single most important element of an anchor text.
How To See What Pages Of Your Site Google Has In Its Index
There is a lag time between the indexing or updating of your site, and the time it takes to show new results in the database. Depending on your site, where it was linked from, who it was linked from, and who knows what other factors, the amount of time varies.
2 Powerful Ways To Capitalize on Your Search Engine Traffic
Many marketers know that search engine marketing is among one of the best methods to get visitors to their websites. It's a profitable way to reach new subscribers and new customers.
Search Engine Optimization SEO Made Easy
SEO is a never ending battle! So is SEO over-rated? I don't think it is. Some say that Google's automated PageRank? system and Alexa's Traffic Rank system are losing ground. This may be may be true to some point but the fact still remains that we want at the top of the search results. And to achieve this we need to educate ourselves and do the work or hire someone else to the work for us. Search Engine Optimization "SEO" is a term we see all over the net. For those of you that are unsure exactly what is meant by SEO, it's simply adjusting many characteristics of your website to conform with what the major search engines deem important. That's where the simple stops. It's complicated only because no one other than the developers themselves know all the rules and even then the rules are constantly changing. What I'll try to do here is cover the basics that have fairly consistent lately. Keep in mind however there will always be inconsistencies when it comes SEO. For example, I recently read an e-book that said to imbed a few of your primary keywords in the "alt" tag of your logo graphic. The same day, I was reading an online article of equal quality and this author cautioned against such a tactic due to possible penalties by the search engines. So which did I do? See for yourself by hovering your mouse over the logo. I don't mind a little risk as long as the risk is low and there may be nice benefits, but don't get carried away. We certainly don't want to get banned by any search engines. I get the heebie-jeebies just saying it. That would simply end many of us. Because Google's PageRank? and Alexa's Traffic Rank systems are really two different animals, I will focus primarily on Google's PageRank? system for now. So lets get started in no particular order. Link Popularity: I guess we can start with the hardest part of search engine optimization. Link popularity. The ultimate goal here is to gain the respect of the search engines. And how we do that is by who we know or at least associate with in the spiders eyes. We want as many quality incoming links as possible with as few low-ranked outbound links as possible. We need to consider several factors when we approach any site to request a link exchange. 1. First of all, we want to focus only on sites that compliment ours. By that I mean directly on indirectly are in the same category or field or relating field as our site without necessarily competing with our site. I say not-necessarily because personally I have no problem linking to competitors site as long as we both mutually agree benefits. Some fear they'll lose some of their site visitors but I feel the best way to keep visitors on your site and get them to return is by providing a high quality site with great original content. 2. Second we want to pay attention to their Google page rank. To do this if you haven't already done so, download Google free toolbar http://toolbar.google.com/ Once installed, you can see the PageRank? of any site you go to. You want as many sites as possible with high PR's. Set a goal of getting a few PR6 or PR7 sites. This will do wonders to your rank. In fact one PR7 might do more for you than hundreds on no or very low PR sites. 3. Third, the engines like to see incoming links from what they consider on authoritative site. So aggressively go after well established, high ranking sites that share the some focus as your site. 4. Fourth on our list are the sites to stay away from. Sites that generate artificially created links. Link farms and even huge link exchange sites can even get your site banned. I don't mean to make anyone nervous here. The fact is, if you are generally doing the right thing for the right reasons, you probably have nothing to worry about. If you find yourself trying to hide something or hoping an search engine doesn't catch something, then you may want to re-evaluate your strategies. Requesting a link. The first thing you should do when requesting a link exchange is little research. Glance over the site in question and consider where your site link might hold the most relevance one their site. This will benefit both parties. And then don't be afraid to offer the suggestions when you contact the site administrator. I have had sites accept my link on a suggested page even though they have a section designed just for outside links. I have even accepted links that I would have normally rejected because the fit would have seemed wrong if they hadn't shown a better fit. Always add their link to your site before you make the request and include the page url of the link when making contact. Keep track of the contacts you've made and if you haven't received a reply. Do a simple search on there site to see if they added your link and forgot to reply. At most, send one more request and be sure to include the words link exchange in the subject line so they don't delete your mail as spam. Then if you still don't get a reply within a week simply remove theirs from your site and move on. Don't send any more mail. Consider the lack of response as a rejection and accept it. Don't take things personal and send a negative e-mail. I have actually received a couple of these and there's really no point. If you do get a reply and a link send a short thank you note. Always include the exact text of the link you want on their site. Again, before you do this it helps if you look at other links on their site. If they have a 3 or 4 word description with each link, you don't want to send a whole paragraph in your links description. What you do want to do is include your best key words. In fact, a short description with the right key words can benefit you far better than a watered down version. Keep it short and sweet. Make things as easy as possible for the webmaster. Include the html code of your link so he/she can just copy and paste if they decide to.
Optimze Your Web Site on a Shoe String Budget
Let me start off by saying I'm not a marketing guru or work for a fortune 500 advertising company. I don't even have a marketing background. But if you don't have money to blow on optimizing your site, then listen up.
How To Weather Google Algorithm Changes
If you spend much time reading the various webmaster forums, you're no doubt well aware of the grief that many webmasters experience after seeing a Google algorithm change send their web pages sinking like a stone in the search results. But there are always other webmasters who do well with the changes, and many whose rankings are pretty much unaffected.
Ten Critical Website and Search Engine Promotion Mistakes
When it comes to promoting your website, you might think that anything you can do to get people to your website is worthwhile. However, you should think again because some shady practices will actually hurt you. Also, other SEO tactics could reduce the amount of potential visitors simply because you do not have a clear understanding of how the Internet and search engines work. Read the following tips on what not to do when promoting your website and if you are doing some of these things stop immediately and learn how to effectively promote your site.
Screwed: Is this an inevitability in the SEO World?
By about 2pm everyday, each of my team members has spoken to a good handful of clients and potential clients who have been speaking with other SEO firms. This an absolutely wonderful thing to see, as in the past in our industry, not enough of our consumers were questioning what they were purchasing. It is a sign that accountability will come and the bad guys will be weeded out.While this is a good sign, it's the cause of my having to answer the same questions over and over. The consumers in the SEO world are being fed out and out lies by some of the people who call themselves experts in the area of Search Engine Optimization. They hear these lies and while comparing prices, contact us at Abalone Designs. They then proceed to tell me everything that all of these other companies promised them and I am utterly astonished. Here some of the most asinine claims I hear through the grapevine."We can guarantee your rankings" Don't be fooled! Ask the company what you will be ranking for, immediately! 9 times out of 10, a company that guarantees you rankings, is guaranteeing that you will rank for your own company name, which means people on Google or MSN or Yahoo! would have to know your company name before searching. How does this produce new customers and visitors to your site? Chances are, as soon as these search engines index your site, you will rank within the top ten for your company name, if not first, because it is unique. Why bother paying someone for something that is already going to happen, anyway? Guaranteeing rankings is highly unethical. It is impossible to guarantee rankings unless you have access to Google's database itself, and even then I'm not sure it's possible. Keep in mind, we are working with a 3rd party, here. A highly guarded 3rd party that doesn't, under any circumstances, reveal it's secrets. No one outside of the companies that run these search engines knows what it is exactly that makes search engines rank sites high. Especially due to the fact that these search engines and the rigorous ranking filters they use to spit out search results change almost monthly. Even a former Google employee doesn't know how to guarantee rankings! If someone is telling you they'll guarantee top rankings, run fast! Those are some shady, shady claims. Google themselves have said:"No one can guarantee a #1 ranking on Google - Beware of SEO's that claim to guarantee rankings, or that claim a "special relationship" with Google, or that claim to have a "priority submit" to Google. There is no priority submit for Google. In fact, the only way to submit a site to Google directly is by using the page at http:// www.google.com/addurl.html. You can do this yourself at no cost whatsoever." - http:// www.google.com/intl/en/webmasters/seo.htmlAn ethical SEO company will not guarantee rankings. They will guarantee that their methods follow search engine guidelines, and they will guarantee customer satisfaction, but at no point in time will any SEO company with a conscience guarantee your rankings."Your site needs to be continually resubmitted to get on and stay on the search engines" When will I see the end of this one? How old is this method now? 5 years? 10 years? We're talking about the days when Webcrawler was the biggest search engine and all computers were beige! This claim is so fully untrue, had Pinocchio uttered it, his nose would have stretched from Rome to Poughkeepsie. And the good folks at Google will once again back me up on this one:"Submission is not necessary and does not guarantee inclusion in our index. Given the large number of sites submitting URLs, it's likely your pages will be found in an automatic crawl before they make it into our index through the URL submission form. We DO NOT add all submitted URLs to our index, and cannot predict when or if they will appear." - http:// www.google.com/intl/en/webmasters/1.html#A2"Meta tags are not important anymore"Sure they aren't. If you don't want a decent ranking on MSN. The new MSN search places a lot of value on the keywords and description meta tags. Without these tags in your site's code, your ranking on MSN will suffer. Just as importantly, if your keywords and description meta tags don't use proper language, your rankings will suffer. The description tag is also what MSN uses as the visible description for a site in the search results. And of course, to prove I'm not the one blowing hot air, here is what MSN themselves say about it:"Site descriptions are extracted from the content of your page each time MSNBot crawls your site and indexes its pages... ...the best way to affect your site description is to ensure that your web pages effectively deliver the information you want to see in search results." - Click here to see the page this is found on. "Your Web Site Has Been Sabotaged" This one is truly unreal. I can't believe it's even been used as an excuse for why an SEO company hasn't achieved decent rankings for you. But alas, more than one SEO company has told potential clients of ours that the reason they are not ranking well, or why their search engine optimization campaign is not effective, is because someone else has been sabotaging the site. Some of the clients who have been told this are small businesses, like bed and breakfasts or pet sitters. We always explain to these potential clients that the likelihood of someone even having the initial idea to sabotage a web site, the site in question would have to be a fairly large one, and the target of a lot of hatred. Why? Because sabotaging a web site's rankings takes a massive amount of time and energy. We're talking months, maybe even years of hard, hard work. Why would anyone devote months or years of their life to taking down a pet sitting site? Or a bed and breakfast?Once again, these are some hefty claims and it is a clear sign that the company who is running your SEO campaign is unwilling to be held accountable for their actions or lack thereof.Don't Put Up With It. The bottom line is, your search engine optimization company works for you. You are paying them. Hold them accountable as you would any other vendor. Keep reading these articles, read info at the search engines, educate yourself and if something your SEO says smells a little rotten, don't be afraid to call them on it.Is being screwed an inevitability in the SEO world? Damn near. But thanks to the increasing interest of our consumers in self-education and their increased questioning, our industry will slowly climb out of the gutter and someday down the line, send this article into antiquity. In spite of my pride, I'd be overjoyed to see that day come.
Is Page Not Found Making Google Tell The World Site Not Found?
Search Engines are hard to tame, that's for sure. But if you can get on their good side, search can be your biggest ally when it comes to generating tons of free traffic to your business web site. Not many people understand how search engines think. So, search engine "optimization" ends up either ignored or left up to highly paid experts.
7 Steps to Prepare You for The Local Search Bonanza
At One Time Local Searches were reserved for services like City Guides and Online Yellow Pages. But the BIG 3 (Yahoo, Google and MSN) have all jumped into the Local Search Market. According to some Estimates Local searches represent 20-25% of all Internet Searches either implicitly or explicitly)
|home | site map|