We’re almost to the end! In the previous portions of this 6 part article we covered:
Part 1 – Why search engines? – Who cares about search engines anyway?! Well your small, medium, or large business should – NO MATTER WHAT YOUR INDUSTRY (sorry about the yelling) – because it is the way people find everything (on or offline).
Part 2 – General Overview – Brief overview of the 4 principals of Search Engine Optimization and how to prepare your self, your website, and your company for this amazing marketing journey.
Part 3 – Coding – Sure, that word is scary, and if you’re a typical business owner or marketing person you’ll probably want nothing to do with this. But, knowing the basics can keep you out of trouble, maximize your exposure and marketing efforts and help you hire a great developer.
Part 4 – Content – Making sure your website has as much content as possible (unique content that is relevant to your business or website) and making sure it is fresh and up-to-date is one of the most powerful marketing techniques online and the only way to achieve longterm search engine optimization success.
Part 5 – Welcome… let’s talk about links.
What is a Link?
A link is simply a snippet of code (not code again!) that tells your web browser (the program you are using right now to surf the web and read this article) to jump to another location. It can be a spot on this page, or an entirely new website.
Why Are Links Important!?
That’s pretty simple. Links are important because it is a way (one of the biggest) search engines evaluate you. It is the tool the search engines use to determine whether you should be #10 or #100 for a search term. Google, and the other search engines take a look at links in a very interesting way. They assume relationships through links.
How Do Links Work (from a search engine’s point of view)
Links establish relationships and value. Let’s start with an example. Here is a chunk of text that appeared on our personal site:
Project Management software is key to any web developer’s success. A great online project management software will provide you (as a developer0 with the tools you need to get and stay organized, and communicate with your team and clients along every step of the way. To that affect, we have been using basecamp for sometime and it has helped us tremendously with all of the above.
In the above paragraph (ignore any of the technical terms mentioned), simply notice that “great online project management software” and “basecamp” are underlined. When you hover over them, you can then click and be brought to another website. This is another illustration of a link.
But, Google and the other search engines, also view this link as a vote of confidence. They read the surrounding text (relating to project management) and assume, since I am linking to it, that the underlying linked website (in this case Basecamp) probably has something to do with what I wrote. The more websites that link to basecamp, and the more they mention project management, the more likely this website will rank well for… Project Management.
Additionally, Google tallies all of the links coming into basecamp and essentially assigns it a score (called a PageRank) – I know this is a gross simplification of PageRank. Additionally, PageRank is determined by the size of the site (write that content!) and the coding of the site (I told you it was important)! If your website has a large PageRank, and you link to another site, that site gets a larger boost in the search engine results.
How Do You Apply This Your My Business?
Okay, this sounds complicated, but it really isn’t. Let’s say you own a small flower shop in Bonita Springs. You would LOVE to be #1 on Google when someone searches for “Flowers Bonita Springs.” How do you do this? Well, let’s assume you have your site constructed properly, and you have a lot of great content, but you’re still not coming up. The next step – and of supreme importance for new websites are the number of websites that link back to yours. So, perhaps you can contact your vendors or suppliers of flowers, vases, etc. and ask them to put your company information and a link to your website on theirs. Or you can see if any of your recurring business customers will mention their experience on their own website and link back to yours. The more links you have the better.
How Do You Get Links?
Good question. Here is a breakdown:
- Directories (paid and unpaid) – much like old yellow page ads
- Participating in Online Forums, Communities, Blogs
- Writing Your Own Amazing Content (people will find your stuff, read it, and link back to it)
- Real Relationships – If you have a business relationship with vendors, merchants, brands, etc. you can contact your vendors or customer base and see if they will link back to you
Now remember, this always seems to trip businesses up: YOU ONLY CARE ABOUT OTHER WEBSITES LINKING TO YOURS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Sure, you may have content that requires a link to an outside website, link to it, as it will help your audience and that website, but when we are trying to grow our own search engine ranking, the greatest thing that will affect your own site’s performance on search engines, are the number of industry relevant websites and blog posts that link BACK TO YOUR WEBSITE!!!! So, a links page on your own site, for example, does not help. We care about links coming in!
Analyze Your Business & Your Competition
Links are also a really good way, if for example you are looking to break into the online space and don’t yet have a website, or have one and are looking to spruce it up, to evaluate your competition. You can use the following website:
Type in your website or your competitors website, select “INLINKS” (remember we care about links coming into websites) to see how many links you or your competitors have. This is a great opportunity to also find out where you’ve been mentioned. Often times on the web, you won’t even know if someone (article, publication, etc.) has mentioned you.