The Steps to Search Engine Success

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Published: 19th November 2014
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The Steps to Search Engine Success
Step 1 - Content is King

Don't expect anyone to link to your website just because you ask them to. Make sure you have good, valuable content. The person you are asking will probably take a look at your website, and will know that whatever website they link to will reflect back on them, as some type of endorsement. Give them something to work with, and something that they believe their visitors will want to see.

Step 2 - Your Online Community

When you begin, you need to find an "online community". These are other sites that offer information, products or services that in some way relate to your website. This may be very easy (a lawyers office relates to almost anyone) or it may be very difficult (a reseller of cylume sticks has a narrow market, and their website will probably have a fairly limited community. But that's all right. Having quality over quantity is important. This is true of search engine organization, and of most things in life.

There are a few things that you can do to find your online community:

Industry Associations

If you belong to an industry with its own association(s), check out the association's website. Small communities may have only one association for the whole world, whereas a large one will have many specialized associations. Check them all out. They may have a list of members available. Start your search with this list, but be careful, you will probably meet your competitors along the way. If they are not direct competitors, they may want to exchange links.

Online Groups and Forums

Newsgroups, Bulletin Boards, Forums, and Discussion Sites are all places you will find people within your industry gathering. Go find the groups your website belongs to; you'll find lots of other website operators who may want to link to your website.

Step 3 - Know Your Competition

This should be the easiest step in the whole process. You should have already done it prior to building your online presence, or mapping out your strategy (Link to Strategy). You probably have had to identify your competition, and determine what does and will continue to set you apart when you are writing a business plan. If you didn't, you had better start now. It's never been too late to start something new...

More often than not, you won't want to contact your competitors for reciprocal links; however, there are some exceptions. There are some websites (mostly informational sites) that will gladly link to their competition. Also, specialty sites will sometimes link to competitors. If your website carries the best selection of children's books, you might link to a more generic book website, even if it sells some children's books.

Here's a hint that may work for you: Contact the companies that your competitors link to. Often the links are not exclusive, so that company will link to both your website, AND your competitor's. Use the search engines to find all your visible competitors. While you are there take a minute and see how much effort they have put into search engine optimization.

Step 4 - Evaluating Sites For Their Potential

Not every website operator you approach will give a link, or will even answer your request. While you are more likely to have success with website operators whose focus is similar to yours. Also remember, the more popular the website, the more spam the operator is likely to receive everyday. Make sure that you write a nice, simple email introducing yourself, and your website, and ask if they are interested. Leave the details for later. Write a follow-up letter if they do not respond - they may have missed you note the first time, or even the second. Lastly, don't be insulted or disheartened if they just say, "No." Here are some tips to help you evaluate each website you're considering approaching.

•Link popularity is not just about a large number of links, but they are a factor nonetheless. More importantly however, is the quality of sites that link to your website, and the accompanying description (link text) you both use when trading links. It will also help if the website that is linking to yours has content that is somewhat related to the content on your website. For example a pet food store and a veterinarian can easily exchange relevant links.
•Your Odds - If you are just starting off, what are the chances that Microsoft will give you a link? Probably very low. Don't waste your time.
•Popularity of the Websites that Link to Yours - With some search engines, the value of the links vary depending in part on the link popularity of the sites linking to your website. To put it in simpler terms, a website that is highly ranked with relevant content to your website will give you more results than links from popular but irrelevant websites. Also, the better known a linking site is within your website's industry, the better the value of the link it can provide to your website.
Step 5 - Websites You Probably Want to Avoid

Some website operators are not worth contacting, simply because they probably won't give you a link, either because they are too busy, or too big.

Step 6 - What To Expect

Despite your efforts, figure on spending at least 1.5 hours for every single potential link you research identify and approach, because you may get very little response to your requests. Sometimes the other website operator will just choose to ignore your emails, and other times they will just miss it, which is why your should send a follow-up after a few days. Some other website operators may put a link to your website, but will forget to notify you that they have done so...Check before sending them a follow up. Don't get discouraged if only one person you contact in ten responds or acts on your request. That's about normal. Figure on spending 10 to 15 hours per month on links creation.

Remember, building relevant reciprocal links is but one part of a search engine optimization, marketing, and promotion strategy. A search engine optimization service or consultant like Metamend does this work everyday out on behalf of your website. This document just gives you some idea of the work that goes into it.

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