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Everything You Need to Know About Linking

By Sharon Housley
Jul 19, 2006

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Websites that are able to amass a large number of links from
related websites that contain relevant content, tend to have
an advantage when attempting to rank well in the large
search engines. The tricky part is understanding how to
build a large quantity of quality links. With the growth of
the web and increased competition, search engines are
weighing link relevance, and link authority as part of their
ranking algorithm.

Earning Links

Link popularity is a form of "social bookmarking". Think
about it, a link is akin to a "vote" from the source. Just
like in the real world, a vote from a source that is known
to be trusted and respected in a specific industry carries
more weight and contains more social clout, so does a link
from a credible online source. Web links are seen as a
recommendation or a website endorsement. If the endorsements are from established respected sources in a specific sector, the link is weighed heavier than an unrelated link or links from a source that is not yet established.

The easiest way to earn a link is to provide quality unique
content.

How do you know who is respected?

One way to determine the value of a website is by accessing
its PageRank. PageRank is visible in the Google Toolbar and
is calculated based on the number of quality incoming links
that a website has. Alexa Rank and TrustRank are also
indicators of a websites popularity. Alexa tracks the
websites that people who use the Alexa toolbar visit. Based
on these visits, they determine the popularity of a website
and rank it accordingly. TrustRank is a little more
difficult to pin down. TrustRank is based on the assumption
that good websites rarely link to bad neighborhoods.

PageRank and Alexa Rank can be used to help webmasters
assess what webpages and websites are valued by search
engines. Keep in mind, this is not an end-all/be-all. The
rankings should only be used only as guides. Relevance
matters, a link from a respected tree website will not help
a software website unless they are selling software related
to trees or landscaping.

Authoritative Links

Some websites wield great power. They are not topic specific
and are considered quality credible sources or
"authorities". Examples of authoritative sources would be
other search engines or directories like Yahoo, DMoz and
Wikipedia. They are respected resources on almost any
industry topics. Authoritative links are desirable and can
help increase a websites popularity.

Deep Linking

Regardless of a websites topic material, if the website is
well designed and informative, its generally not too
difficult to attract links to a websites' main page. But
what many webmasters do not realize, it is equally important
to attract incoming links to a variety of pages on the
website. The more varied the links to various webpages
within a single domain, shows search engines that a website
contains an abundance of quality material.

Anchor Text

When a publisher links to a website, the search engines
consider the link text used in the link. Varied but related
text in the link shows what the material is about. All links
that contain the same text look "unnatural" and may be
considered as "purchased" or unreliable. Search engines are
partial to natural incoming links. Ideally attempt to
establish varied linking text that unite in a common theme.

An example: Software Marketing Resource
http://www.softwaremarketingresource.com has a number of
links with text containing things like: software marketing;
shareware marketing; software promotion; online software
marketing; promoting software; promoting shareware. All are
synonymous with software marketing and are natural phrases
that would be used to describe the same website.

Directory Linking

Directories should not be overlooked in linking strategies
and while webmasters should not rely on directories solely
when developing strong links, they can be advantageous.
Particular attention should be paid to topic specific
directories. A topical directories are often consider
authorities and a related link can boost exposure.

Competitive Intelligence

Webmasters looking for links and don't know where to look,
should have a peak at who is linking to their competitors.
Use competitive intelligence to track down quality link
sources.

Give it Away

An easy way to earn links is to give something away. Whether you are providing quality content free of charge or a free software application, webmasters appreciate quality content and products that are available free of charge. Use the free item or content to draw attention to your website, if you are truly providing something of value, it will generate unsolicited links that are invaluable. Develop a linking strategy as part of your website marketing plan.

The aim should be to attract authoritative links from
related sources.

###
Sharon Housley manages marketing for FeedForAll software for creating, editing, publishing RSS feeds and podcasts. In addition Sharon manages marketing for NotePage a
wireless text messaging software company.



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