Why Link Popularity Matters

If you run a business website, or plan to start a website for your business, you may  know that getting links back to your site is critical to your success. You have probably heard people talk about “reciprocal linking” and “backlinks.” Still, you might not understand exactly what this linking process entails or why it’s so important for your business.

Search engines, especially Google, look at the number of links to your website in determining your ranking in their search engine results pages (SERPS). Google PageRank is based largely on the number of backlinks your site has, and the quality of those links.

Note that the quality of the links is important. Website owners used to submit their sites to Free for All links pages and get lots of links back to their sites. As with many other things that used to work when the web was smaller, this is no longer a reliable way of getting quality links. The search engines look at these “link farms” as junk links, and don’t count them in your backlinks.

It is more important than ever now to create quality links back to your site. Ideally, these links will come from sites that link to you without your having to link back. These are called one-way links, and are the most valuable links your website can have.

Article writing and submission is one good way to get one-way links; the article directories and ezines that use your articles will publish them with your link intact. These are good quality links, and the more articles you create, the more links you can accumulate.

You may also pay for one-way links, but the word is that Google is starting to ignore obviously paid links. Some of the larger companies selling one-way text links are now “flagged” by Google, and links purchased from these companies do not count in Google PageRank.

Not all good links are one-way links. Google also respects reciprocal links, or link trades, if the linking site is a quality site and not a link farm. While one-way links are more valuable in calculating PageRank, reciprocal links are easier to get, and Google does pay attention to them.

One way to get reciprocal links is to visit other websites and ask them for a reciprocal link, or a link exchange. While this is a tedious task, it is a good way to find well-qualified sites to trade links with. It is well worth spending some time finding really good sites to do exchanges with.

You can also use a reputable link exchange directory to find sites that are interested in exchanging links with related sites. When you choose a directory, make sure that it includes the types of sites that you’re looking for, and that the links will come directly from the other sites, rather from the directory. You’re using the directory primarily as a search tool to find related websites that may be interested in exchanging links.

As always, the quality of your website still matters, of course, but you can give your site a real boost in search engine rankings by getting good backlinks from related sites.

7 Tips For Choosing the Right Domain Name

When you set up your business web site, choosing a domain name is one of the most important steps you’ll take. This domain name will “go on your permanent record,” so to speak; this is how people will find your web site, now and in the future. You want to make sure that you choose a domain name that will help you build your business. While it may seem like a minor detail, this is a very important decision.

The following tips will help you choose your domain name well:

1.  Know what you want your domain name to do. Many people use their domain names primarily to introduce themselves, especially when they’re networking locally. For instance, a photographer might have a domain name such as JudyTaylorPhotography.com. That works well as an introduction, but if her goal is to market herself on the web as a baby photographer, she might do better with Philadelphia-Baby-Photograpy.com.

2. Use keywords in your domain name to market your business. If you intend for your domain name to be more than an electronic business card, you should research and include keywords that people will search for to find you. For instance, if you sell vintage Mustangs in Waco, Texas, you might use a domain name such as Texas-Vintage-Mustangs.com or Waco-Vintage-Mustangs.com.

3. Use hyphens to make your domain name more search engine friendly. While your customers might remember TexasVintageMustangs.com just fine, or even more easily, search engines may not see all the keywords unless you use hyphens. Keep this in mind when you’re choosing a domain name for marketing purposes.

4. Use a reputable domain registrar. There are a few big companies selling domains, and some smaller companies reselling for those companies. There are also a few low-end, independent companies selling domains. Watch out for these small registrars; not too long ago one of them went out of business and refused to release their records to another registrar until a court intervened. Their customers’ domains were unreachable for several days. Many of the large, reputable companies are very competitive in price. Make sure you’re working with a company you can trust.

5. Get a dot-com name if possible. It may be harder to find your chosen name with a dot-com extension, but it is well worth the effort to brainstorm and research possible names that are available with a dot-com extension. People tend to memorize your domain name, or try to. If they think it’s JoesPlumbing.com and your address is actually JoesPlumbing.net, you may lose business to another Joe.

6. Research similar domain names. If you intend to register The-Online-Golf-Store.com, keep in mind that you may lose business to Online-Golf-Store.com, just because people forget the “the.” Know what similar domains are registered, and to whom, and make sure you choose a unique name.

7. Remember you can direct two or more domains to the same website. If you are not sure which domain name serves your business better, or if you would like to market yourself with multiple domain names, you can point each name to your main website and use all the domains you want.

The Basics of SEO

If the nuts and bolts of SEO seem too technical and frighteningly mathematical for you, rest easy. This post provides you with the known and established ways to boost your search engine ranking without delving too deeply into the “whys”.

Link Love

  • Go about getting as many inbound links to your site as possible. This is all part of the infamous search engine algorithms. The more links to your site there are, the higher your ranking will be. Make sure the links are from “good” pages and not spammy or off topic ones.
  • Make sure that you have a site that is worthwhile to visit. Linking works a lot like high school popularity. You want to cultivate the right crowd or connections. Why would anybody want to put a link to your site if there isn’t anything useful or interesting on it? You have to make the owner or author of other sites want to link to you.

Keywords are Key

  • Keyword density is essential to the content of a site. Your titles should bear it (it should be incorporated into each page’s Title tag), your links should spell it out (as opposed to click HERE or read THIS ARTICLE), your body should be peppered with it (make sure that your copy mentions it as many times as possible without the content appearing like senseless gibberish), etc.
  • Familiarize yourself with your site’s target audience or market. Get to know which keywords they are likely to type into the search boxes. There are sites that have conducted surveys and studies and they can provide the necessary demographic details so that you can construct your site with the correct keywords. You should also look into keyword research tools such as Google AdWords and Yahoo! Search Marketing. These can help you choose the optimal way to phrase your keywords. Avoid general keywords because they do not specify to the potential visitor what your site can really offer them. In fact, “keyphrase” should be the operative word and not “keyword” as it is all about the phrasing.
  • Design your site so your keywords are easily spotted by search engines. Graphics and Flash can make your site seem cool, but text content is what search engines can connect with.

Code ‘n stuff (Sorry, but you can’t completely escape technicalities.)

  • Place ALT tags on images you post on your website. Apparently, Google acknowledges the text in ALT tags of images. Make sure that you label these tags with a clear description of the image.
  • Construct your website to be easily navigated by search engine crawlers.  Remember that search engines cannot fill out fields, read Java Script, interpret graphics and Flash, or search your entire site, so have equivalent HTML links to the important pages of your site in the main navigation of each page. These links should offer as much information about the pages they are directing visitors to. If people won’t bother guessing what could be at the other end of a link, search engines are even less inclined to. Keywords also figure into this, so give it plenty of thought.

SEO Myths

  • Caching. Is Google really so spiteful as to punish you for not allowing it to cache your pages? Google has denied these allegations, but if you do not have any specific beef about caching (copyright infringement, pricing-related issues, product updates, etc.), just allow it. It’s always good to stay in the good graces of Google.
  • META tags are ignored by Google and the majority of search engines, so inserting them does little for your ranking. However, this can change, and some of the search engines do look for them.