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Improve the search engine friendliness of your web site
In this article by Herbert-Jan van Dinther, we will cover several different ways to get more incoming links, from commenting on other sites to blogging on other platforms. Building incoming links is time consuming, but if done the right way it is a very good way to boost your web site's rankings.
There are a few ways to get links to your web site, which we will learn about in this article, including:
- Using paid options
- Using forums to get incoming links
- Commenting on other web sites to get links
- Building your own incoming links
- Using your best content for link building
- Writing articles for links
- Don't be afraid to ask
Do you want to use paid incoming links?
Paying for incoming links can be a tricky business if you do it the wrong way. Google doesn't like web sites that use this link building technique and their representative master anti-spam spokesman, Matt Cutts is very clear on this subject.
Buy links and get penalized… sell links and get penalized as well
The major penalty is a very likely drop in Page Rank. Although Page Rank is becoming less important as compared to your rankings on the search engine result pages, people still see it as a quality making if you do have a high Page Rank. Of course using AdWords to do a "Pay Per Click" campaign is also a form of paid links.
If you want to use the sponsored link options to get your site started, that is fine, but the ultimate goal of this article is to get higher rankings in the organic results of the search engines. Studies support the idea of using sponsored links to bring in more traffic from the organic searchers even after the campaign has stopped. It depends on how hard you need the traffic to your site for business, or if you want to go for organic results.
Helping people helps you with link building
If you have a topic that you are passionate about and you build a web site about it, then this option is one for you. Find a forum that matches the topic of your web site and start helping other people with your knowledge. On most forums there is a possibility to have your own "Signature", where you can have one or more lines of text with a link that people can click on.
For instance, the site http://forums.digitalpoint.com has a lot of requests for information on Joomla! where you can help people to solve their problems. After a number of replies to questions, you can put in your own signature such as:
The links you put in there will not only bring traffic from your posts, but they also count as incoming links for Google. Not all forums have the same rules—for example, some of them have a rule that you can put a link to your site, but it should be the URL only without your main keywords in the link.
So, be sure to go to the best forums you can find on your topic and start helping others with your knowledge. In the meantime, work on your incoming links as well.
Commenting done the right way
Another option you have is to look for blogs about your web site's topic. You will already probably know the most useful ones in your field of expertise. Go to those blogs and read some of the posts they have published. If you are lucky, there will be some kind of widget that shows you how many readers they have on that blog for their RSS Feed or email system.
Large numbers are a good sign as that means a lot of people will read the blog and it probably has a good ranking in Google. Read the posts that are relevant to your topic and if you can, write a comment which shows that you know more about the topic. Also, if possible, make a new suggestion or correct an error in the article.
Don't write comments such as "I really liked this post", "Thank you for this information", or even "I really like your blog". If you write comments such as those you won't get any interaction with the blogger in question and you don't add value to the discussion. Such comments will get deleted or labeled as spam. When I get comment links such as these, I remove them as they add null to zero information for other visitors and they are clearly there just for link building. It won't work that way, and if you are outsourcing or want to outsource this kind of link building, here is a warning, make sure you state in your contract with these people that blog and comment spamming is not allowed!
If you don't add that clause, they may start commenting in your name, linking to your site (well, you paid them to do that…) with the same remarks over and over again. What happens next is that bloggers will ban you from commenting on their blogs, and in the worst case scenario you will loose a lot of credibility in your community. People are sometimes better informed than you think and a mistake like the one mentioned above will cost you more than money alone.
So, if you start commenting, ask yourself:
- Do I have something of value to add to the conversation?
- Will people read that comment?
- How effective will this blog be in sending me traffic?
Keep those in mind, with more emphasis on the first point, and you will do fine.
Finding places to comment
As I said before, commenting is a great way to create your own incoming links. But how do you find more relevant blogs to read and comment on? First of all, do a search for blogs about your web site's topic. You can use http://blogsearch.google.com/ to find the most recent blog posts and see if the blogs it finds fit your web site's topic.
Technorati is of course the best place to look for blogs.
Go ahead and use the option search the blogosphere.... From the results of this initial search, you can filter based on several options. In the first selection list you will find options such as Search Posts, Search Blogs, Search Photos, and Seach Videos. The second selection list allows you to filter based on entire post or just tags. The third option is the one you really need to set and there you can choose to filter on a lot of authority.
This option means a lot of people are linking to that web site/blog and it will probably get lots of traffic and do well in the search engines. Those blogs are the ones you want your voice to be heard on and remember if you are going to comment, make sure it is a useful one.
What you need to do after finding the blog, is to really check out the site. In some cases there might just be one post about your web site's topic on that blog. And you really want it to be on topic all the way!
Two other blog search services you can use are:
Both are set up to bring to you the most recent results like Google does but they have something extra. You can learn about trends as Icerocket has a trend tool and Blogpulse has its trend search option.
Using those trend tools will give you more insight on which terms are "hot" at the moment and growing. If you combine that with the blogs you just found, for your keywords, you could have a winning team.
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Alexa is also a good tool to find web sites related to your own topic and check their influence in the blogsphere. Now is the time to head back to the blogs and web sites you have recently found and want to comment on. Check their ranking in Alexa and, most importantly, check the incoming links.
Use the tool that Alexa gives you to find a few web sites that you can really relate to. In my case I wanted a site about "landscape gardening" and I found www.thegardenhelper.com.
Now, The Garden Helper does pretty well in Alexa and is a very ancient web site, dating all the way back to 1998.
The site is not my kind of design and you cannot comment on the site itself, but they have a forum on which you can help and leave some traces. But what we are really interested in, from Alexa, are two items from this info page:
- Sites Linking In: It is on the top line with the traffic rank numbers and will show you other web sites that are linking to this site. You should check some of them to see if they have blogs where you can participate in the conversation. You can also ask them to link to your site if the topic is related and you think it would be of benefit to their visitors.
- Related Links: This tab will show you other web sites that are also on the topic of site you found. Sites such as gardenweb.com, have several subdomains including voices.gardenweb.com—a blog where you can leave comments.
As you can see finding relevant sites that give you the opportunity to comment, can be a cumbersome task. However it is worth the effort, especially in your initial link building. You might find that searching for blogs about the topic of your web site is a lot easier than it was for this gardening site. It maybe difficult also. It depends on the keywords you are going to target and the popularity of the topic of your site.
Commenting on a blog takes time and effort to do it the right way. Another way to comment is to link back to articles on a relevant web site and hope that they will show the trackback to your web site. If they don't show the trackback, you have at least provided your visitor with a valid link and you can hope that the webmaster of that site may link back to your site over time.
Creating your own linking empire
esides blog comments and forum posts you can build your own little linking empire. To do that you can use several free blogging and page building services that are free of charge. We will be looking at services such as:
- Google Sites
- Blogger (blogspot.com domains)
WordPress is the big one when it comes to creating highly relevant incoming links that will perform well in the search engines. We will be looking into WordPress in depth rather than the other services.
Remember, we are building links that themselves need to score well in the search engine results to get the most benefit from our work. So, how much work does it take and how difficult is it to work with those services to create good ranking results that will benefit your site in the long run?
If you have a Google account, go to your account page and look for Sites. Click on the Create site button and start building your pages. A sitemap is created directly and if you want to edit your page, use the Edit page button on the top righthand corner of your screen. In my case I got a nice URL, http://sites.google.com/site/landscapegardening/, to work with. Next to the edit page button is a drop-down menu named More actions, where you can select Manage site to change your theme and other settings later.
On this mini site you need to write some good quality content, that is also on topic, for your main site. Using these pages and the sidebar you can create links with your targeted keywords to link back to your main web site.
Blogger is also a free service from Google. It will give you a URL that ends in .blogspot.com unless you host on a subdomain of your main site. However, in this case you are building links outside your domain, so the links will end with blogspot.com.
Again, if you are logged in to your Google account you will see the service Blogger on your account page. If you haven't used it before, click on the line that says try something new and choose it from there. If you click on it you go to blogger.com where you need to sign in with your Google mail (Gmail) account.
Once you are logged in, there is a three step track to get you blogging:
- Sign up with Blogger: Accept the terms and set your screen name.
- Name your blog: Give it a title and check if the URL you want is available. You might need to be somewhat creative here, as there are already a lot of blogspot sites around.
- Choose a Theme: You can change it later if you don't like the colors or layout.
Try using "–" between the keywords you want to use, if the name you want for your blog is taken.
On a blog, you don't build a web site like you do with Joomla! it is just publishing posts that will show up in a top to bottom list starting with the most recent post. With Blogger you can also create trackbacks and links to your web site, again with the main keywords or a variation as the link text.
Depending on how much competition you are facing in the search engine results pages you may need to create several posts to be noticed. If you want to spend some money to use a better domain name than yoursitename.blogspot.com, then I suggest you pay for the option to switch to a custom domain. You could also choose to refer it to the subdomain of your site. For better value to building incoming links it is recommended to use a separate domain. This option will change the URL's to a .com or other domain name, but you still use Blogger to write and post your articles.
The custom domain will costs you approximately 10 USD per year (at the time of writing) and will give you more credibility than a .blogspot.com site.
On squidoo.com you don't blog or create pages, you build a Lens. A Squidoo lens is one big page where you can put in all your knowledge about the topic of your interest. For example, you can write text, embed videos, and embed RSS Feeds from your Blogspot or WordPress blog, so you only have to write things once and the lens will be updated automatically. Your Squidoo lens is built using modules that contain the content you want to publish. Creating a lens is not that difficult. Just follow the steps mentioned next:
- Log in to Squidoo and click the button Create a Lens!
- Once you have done that, write the topic of your lens (What is your lens about).
- What is the goal of your lens, here you can choose from four options. I suggest to start with the standard easy one.
- Set the URL of your lens and the category.
- Tag your lens with the most important keywords and fill in the security word.
A hubpage works the same way as a Squidoo lens. You create an account and start your first Hub. If you have set the basic title for your article the URL is taken from that title. In the next step you will get a warning about what you should not do on HubPages and a single line about What Works.
The next screen before you get your first Hub is a security screen to prevent automatic creation of Hubs. Now start building that Hub page and take your time to do it, write quality content about your topic, and make use of elements such as images to break the page.
Create valid Hubs, otherwise they will not be given the power that you want them to have. HubPages has a system in place that will flag your Hub as over promotional or/and substandard.
Hubs are built with building blocks called capsules. On the righthand side you see an overview of all the different kind of capsules you can use, as shown in the following screenshot:
Naturally, you want to keep these capsules in mind as again there is a possibility to embed an RSS Feed. You should add the RSS Feed from your Joomla! web site to your Hub, in order to ensure fresh content every time you update your web pages.
If you have read this article you may be interested to view :
- Joomla! 1.5 Blogging and RSS Feeds
- Extending Joomla! Blogging and RSS
- How to get Incoming Links in Joomla! 1.5 SEO: Part 2
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About the Author :
Herbert-Jan van Dinther has been building and optimizing web sites for search engines for over 10 years. He is the author of several Joomla! SEO information web sites like http://www.pathos-seo.com and http://www.hummerbie.com and author of The Little Joomla SEO Book, which has helped numerous people in improving their web site. He also blogs about Joomla! and SEO, on blog.hummerbie.com which is recommend reading by Steve Burge from Alledia.com. He combines his knowledge of Open Source Content management systems like Joomla!, WordPress, and Drupal, and Search Engine Optimization into high ranking web sites on several topics.
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