Archives for October 2006

What are Links?

There are two primary motivations for creating inbound links to your web site. The first is to create inbound traffic to your site from potential customers. I like to call these Advertising Links. The second are links created to increase the search engines understanding of what your site is about, or SEO Links. For the purpose of this article, I will concentrate on this second group.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) consists of many elements that combine to help create a clear picture of what your site is about. Search engines collect data on every web site that they can find. The information is primarily text based, and this is true of links that lead to and from your site. For this reason, most SEO Links are text based, not graphics or logos.

Links are like votes. In general, the more links that cast “votes” for your web site on a specific topic, the more the search engines can be confident that your website will provide that subject matter. Without these critical votes it can be very difficult for your average web page to attain good search engine results. A very interesting example of the power of linking is the Google Search Result for the search term “Miserable Failure.” The very first result is the Whitehouse Bio for George Bush. This is accomplished by thousands of web pages placing the text link “miserable failure” on their web page and pointing it toward that page.

Text links are just what they sound like; actual text that is hyperlinked from an outside source to a page inside your website. There is a very specific formula and process to creating these links. Because the search engines read text, they use a text matching process to decide how relevant each link (vote) is to its destination.

The outside web source where the links reside can be in a number of web based formats. Another standard website or directory is the obvious spot, but there are a number of other powerful linking opportunities. There are many was to add links to information releases like articles, blogs, forums, social networks, and various interaction sites. There is a technique for each media type, but in general, you want to stick to relevant subject matter that is similar to your website.

How many links does your site need? The answer is, “Enough to beat your competition!” This will be different for every market. Take something as competitive as the search term “Travel Agent” – The number one Google result (out of 148 million!) is the American Society of Travel Agents reporting 110,000 backlinks! Compare that with the search term “Ski Ohio” and the number one contender, Alpine Valley, only has 500 links.

Time is critical to the success of any linking additions. SEO Links can take months to cause any effect or change on the results that a search engine displays. Look at the first page results for any search term and you can bet the top contenders are already building links. Most of the time, when you notice your results slipping, it is not that you are doing a poor SEO job, it’s just the competition working harder to beat YOU!

SEO Linking is a time consuming process that is absolutely necessary to help boost your site in the search engines natural results pages. Like everything else in business, if it was easy, everyone would be doing it. There is only room at the top for a few websites for each search term. See You at the Top!