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Why are Links Important
Building links is an important way to generate website traffic. Most obviously, links generate direct traffic as web users can click on a link and are taken to the destination site. However, there is also a second less obvious way in which links can drive traffic. Search engines such as Google use information about the links into a site when they are producing their search results. All other things being equal, Google will give better placement to sites with a higher number of quality incoming links. More links, broadly speaking, equals more traffic.
Not all Links are Created Equal
Google algorithm is highly sophisticated and can distinguish between links from low and high quality sites (also called trusted domains). ËœTrusted domains are sites which over time have shown themselves to be quality and reliable sources of information.
Examples of trusted domains would be popular news sites or blogs. These sites give more Ëœlink juice that dozen of links from directories or no name blogs. However, because of their value, links from trusted domains are more difficult to obtain.
Anchor Text and Page Context
When building links it is important to consider how the link is written. The anchor text of a link is the text which makes up the link. In the following example:
Visit this great Online Nursery Shop!
the anchor text is ï¿½ï¿½ËœOnline Nursery shopï¿½ï¿½â„¢ whereas the destination URL is http://www.hellobabydirect.co.uk
Search engines use the anchor text of a link to give context to the destination site. For example, for the search ï¿½ï¿½Ëœclick hereï¿½ï¿½â„¢ the adobe reader page homepage will appear top even though these words are not used anywhere on the that page. This is because thousands of sites link to adobe with links which use the text ï¿½ï¿½Ëœclick hereï¿½ï¿½â„¢. When soliciting links to your site try and influence the anchor text so that includes the keywords for which you wish to rank highly.
As well as looking at the anchor text, Google will look at the over all context of the linking page. It is therefore best to obtain links from sites which have content relevant to the target site.
Sources of links
There are thousand of directories on the internet which vary wildly in quality. Typically an entry to a directory is gained by completing a web form and waiting for the submission to be approved. Most directories are free but some charge for inclusion (it is rarely worth paying). Directories are great from the point of view that the links are easy to obtain. For the very same reason however, links from these site are not highly rated by Google.
There are numerous press release distribution service available online, some free, some paid for. Each service typically allows the publisher a link back to their site along with a short description of the company. It can be worth using a paid for press release service such as prweb.com as these will give a wider distribution to the release. Well written, interesting press releases may also get picked up by news websites such as blogs and newspaper sites, generating more exposure.
A list of free press release sites can be found here.
Article sites allow users to submit articles on just about any topic which can link back to your site. By creating articles which are related to your areas of business the links can be placed in a contextual setting. Some of the larger site have a wide readership and so it pays to create compelling content. However, many article sites exist solely for the purpose of creating links and so have similar link value to directories.
A big list of articles submission sites ranked by page rank can be found here.
Web Design Directories
If you have an attractive website, submit it to the many CSS and design directories. Some of these sites have a vibrant community of designers who will pass around designs which they think are interesting.
The CSS gallery list website has an extensive list of CSS and design directories
Local search services such as Google Maps are one of the biggest growth areas in online search and can be a great source of traffic and links, especially for locally based services. Other popular services include Qype, Yahoo local and BView.
Blogs and News sites
Gaining links from high profile sites is the holy grail of link building. Unfortunately, it is rarely as easy as filling in a submission form or sending an email. High quality sites will receive a large number of link requests and so must be approached individually and given a compelling reason to link. One tactic is to offer to write an article for the site which will contain a link to your site as payment (thanks Enterprise Nation!).
Social Media Sites
Sites such as forums and social networks typically have a profile page for each member and also give the opportunity to post content, including links. Sites such as Facebook and Twitter receive huge volumes of traffic and so building a popular social media presence has enormous traffic potential.
Social bookmarking sites such as Delicious or Stumbleupon allow users to record interesting links and share these with their friends. Adding the social bookmarking icons to a page allows people to easily bookmark and share your site.
Search engine journal has a list of 125 social book marking services.
Many suppliers will have a stockist list or a client list linking to their clientsï¿½ï¿½â„¢ websites. Especially for stockist lists, a link can be a good source of targeted traffic.