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Using Incoming Links to Boost Search Rankings

The more popular your website is, the better it does in organic search rankings. One way search engines determine your site's popularity is to look at all the sites that link to it, and their popularity as well. The thinking goes like this. If a well-known site has a link to your site then your site must be special, so your site will gain credibility as a result. It's kind of like hanging out with the "in" crowd in high school. Unfortunately, search engines care more about the popular quarterback than the band geek (hey, I was a band geek). But as long as the football quarterback gives a high five fist bump to the trombone player, that band geek is slightly more popular. The same goes with your site. If a national insurance company has a link to your small business masseuse website, you're suddenly a bit more credible in the search world.

There are some relatively easy ways to get links to your site.
  • Ask a local publication or trade magazine do an article about your business. Of course, you'll have to think of something that's interesting for them to write about. If they post the article online, ask them to add a link to your site.
  • Donate to a charity, school, church, etc. and ask if in return they will add your link to their site.
  • Get memberships with local merchant associations and chambers of commerce. Most allow links in their members directory.
  • Answer questions that people have on message boards. Find topics that you are very knowledgeable in and post away. Be sure to include your link in your profile signature. Hint: this is a very easy and effective way to boost your popularity because search engines visit blogs and message boards more frequently than "static" websites that don't change very often.
  • If your business has a physical address, add your link to your free Google Local page. See Free Exposure with Google Local for details.
  • Submit your site to the DMOZ (open directory project).
  • Ask another business similar to yours to add your link in exchange for you posting their link on your site. It's very important to avoid doing this with websites that have nothing to do with your business as this could trigger suspicion by the search engines that perhaps you're simply exchanging links for the sole purpose of boosting your rankings. So be selective and only do this with a limited number of high-quality businesses.

No matter what, do NOT list your site with a company that allows you to post your link for a fee. These are link farms and could actually work against you. The reason is because the sole purpose for having links on their site is to give you a boost with search engines. However, years ago, Google and their brethren caught on to that fact and no longer give you credit. In fact, it could do you harm.

One more very important item to consider is how your link is built. The anchor text makes a very big difference. See "How to create an effective link using anchor text".


Categories: SEO
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