Solving A Puzzle: Weak Web Links

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Puzzle: My links stink! The quality of external links to your website reflects low traffic, weak search-engine page rankings (SERPs), high cost-per-visitor, etc.

Solution: These easy steps can improve the quality and ROI of your inbound links:

1. Be stingy about the number of links:

a. Let the quality of your site’s content drive the number of links

i. Make sure the content is compelling enough to lead to a link-generated visitor becoming a potential conversion

ii. Update content frequently on your links’ landing pages

2. Never have more than about half of your external links land visitors on your index page. Poor landing page or anchor text selection are very common mistakes, and failing to embed keywords in your anchor text is also a usual faux pas

3. Always evaluate the relevance of the external link site. Most (at least 75%) of your links should come from sites that your customer prospects are likely to frequent

4. There are questionable links from sources that can quickly get your site red flagged by search engines. Watch out for link farms, any type of for-purchase link scams, and links that have weak relevance to your site’s content.

5. Select quality external sites from which to link. Here are a few types to consider:

a. Profiles and directories. Don’t pooh-pooh directories. They offer a great first move into link building. Sites that allow you to post a social networking company/personal profile are rated by the search engines as having good integrity, so you’ll improve your search engine outcomes by taking advantage of these simple link targets. Keep them fresh, updated, and interesting!

b. Wikis. Are you avoiding Wikipedia? If so, why? The search engines value such sites. Search for wikis that are germane to your business, its topics, issues, technologies, products, and so forth.

While linking your website to online directories and profile sites may have lost some of its luster because the search engine spiders don’t rate them highly, it’s still a great starting point to begin your link-building campaigns.

Here’s a list of high-visibility social media sites on which to post your company/personal profiles or directory listings (usually for free):

360.Yahoo
Blogger
Bloglines
Delicious
Digg
DMOZ
Facebook
Flickr
Friendster
LinkedIn
Live-Journal
MySpace
Scribd
Stumble Upon
Technorati
Twitter
Yelp
YouTube

Not all of the above-listed posting sites cater to high-tech businesses, so judge for yourself the audience(s) to which each appeals, and post your profile accordingly. Also, be conscious of the social etiquette of the bookmarking sites. You’ll only be posting a profile. You will not be bookmarking your own web content!

Keep in mind that you can post personal profiles. Don’t pass up opportunities to post personal profiles, because they can have better social appeal than your company profile. If there are bloggers in your company, their personal profiles can add a social dimension to a visitor’s search. The triple play here goes like this:

• Blogger’s personal profile links to his/her blog site, then

• Blogger’s site links to your company site.

There are also vertical tech-specific sites that should be “must-do’s.” In GIS (Geographic Information Systems), for example, there’s GISuser, The GIS Forum (Wikis and blogs), GIScafe, Directions Magazine (and many other GIS-specific publications). One company, GeoEye, is making good use of Flickr’s image-posting site.

From the above list, DMOZ.org is a free directory listing site that is not being penalized by Google and other search engines, therefore it has value that will improve your PageRank. Be aware that your submission to DMOZ will take a seeming eternity to get posted. Expect a 2+ month delay, due to a backlog of applicants.

Improving the quality of your website’s external links should also involve posting on wiki sites.
Here’s a list of wiki-style websites and free/fee-based directories. Not all of them will create links to your site:

Website Type Comment
AboutUS Wiki No fee, but your content will be subject to editorial review.
Business Directory $299/annual fee. The standard listing is adequate.
Best of the Web Directory $69.95/annual gets you into a directory that the search engines frequently visit . There’s also a one-time fee $199.95.
DMOZ Directory Free. See remarks above.
Go Guides Directory $69.95 for each URL. You’ll get posted now, without a waiting period.
JoeAnt Directory $39.95 flat fee. You’ll get posted in less than a week.
Knol Wiki/Blogs By Google. You can even setup Google Feedburner to help your readers subscribe to your Knols, blogs, and even your website.
MyWikiBiz Wiki No fee, but your content will be subject to editorial review.
Rubber Stamped Directory $29.95 flat fee. The new kid on the block that’s getting a lot of attention from the search engines.
Yahoo Directory Directory Commercial sites $299/annual gets you listed in multiple Yahoo directories..Submit as a non-commercial (free). If you don’t get posted (allow several weeks), re-post as a paid account.
Wikipedia Wiki No fee, but your content will be subject to editorial review.

Also, search for the myriad micro-wikis in the web ecosphere that have vertical topic coverage.

What To Post In A Business Directory

Online directories are only effective if they provide sufficient information for a site visitor to be able to communicate with your company. One of the most common mistakes companies make is withholding some contact information.

Be sure to include your business’:

• Complete address (both physical and mail-to)

• Phone numbers (including extensions for each listed person)

• Fax number

• URL

• Names of key contacts, such as executives, salespersons, support & CRM people, media contact, etc.

o E-mail addresses of these key contacts (avoid info@mycompany.com style)

• A brief (4-5 lines of text) and well-written description of your company that tells what it makes, for what markets, etc. This is a pivotal piece of information, so don’t cut and paste from the AboutUs content on your website. Focus on the key search words your prospects have likely used in their web search

• Keep your messages constant. Readers of your profile are looking for companies that have what they need, or that can resolve a problem. Make sure that you satisfy those expectations

• Pay attention to the directory category in which your profile will appear. If you intend to post in multiple categories, write a new profile description that fits each. Every category reflects a different audience, or a different need/expectation of an audience. These differences will likely change the link’s landing page on your site. In such multi-category situations, as you are filing out the directory’s online profile form, in the space for your URL, enter the web address to a specific page or document on your site that contains relevant content to visitors in the category

• If the directory will allow, link your profile to the most relevant of your site’s landing pages

• If the directory site allows including your logo, definitely go for it. Directory lists are visually boring, and there has been research indicating that those listings with a logo get clicked more than those who don’t have any graphics.

Standardize your profile, so that it can be used again and again with only minor changes. I like to update/change a client’s profile every two months. Even if there are no changes in contact information, the descriptive portion gets rewritten.

Keep records of where your profiles are posted, so that you can easily access each one to modify it. Some clients like to publish a list of profile sites on their websites.

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to Yahoo BuzzAdd to Newsvine

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