Posted 8 years ago on 1/12/2009 and updated 3/2/2010
Having lots of other web sites host links to your site is a great way to make search engines regard your site as important, or relevant. It helps ensure high visibility for your site when Internet visitors use search providers to find content related to your site.
There are several ways to accomplish this, but you must tread carefully: The wrong techniques can backfire - with serious consequences.
This is a hard lesson for some techie types to learn: Just because a thing can be done, doesn't mean it should be done.
Google, arguably the standard-bearer when it comes to Internet search engines, started out with a radical new idea for ranking search results. It's brilliantly simple: The more other sites that link to yours, the more important or relevant Google considers your site.
Google, of course, is no longer the only search engine that incorporates this strategy, and it is certainly not the only criteria that Google and others use to rank search results.
But the quantity of "external" links to your site remains one of the most important ways to win the ranking war. The challenge has always been to get other sites to link to yours. How do you get their attention? How do you persuade them to add a link to your site?
As they say, "It never hurts to ask." What's the worst thing that can happen? You get "no" for an answer. But "no" is the ubiquitous answer today. Webmasters are increasingly reluctant to award links unless you can demonstrate concrete benefits to their site by doing so. And a simple offer of a link exchange doesn't carry much weight.
Getting External Links:
Here, we'll mention two legitimate ways to get other sites to link to yours, without having to ask - and one "sneaky" way that can have dire consequences.
1: Video hosting sites are incredibly popular these days, and YouTube is probably the most popular. But there are hundreds of YouTube-like sites that host videos - all waiting for you to "make" them link to your site.
In a video that's directly related to your site's content, you'll naturally want to display your URL, even mention it in the audio track. Search engines, however, don't catalog such binary content.
Getting an actual catalogued link is pretty simple. When you submit a video to these sites, you'll encounter a data entry form. In addition to a title for your video, you'll typically find other data entry fields, like "author."
The trick is to simply put your site's URL into those fields; the complete URL, starting with "http:" like this: "Brought to you by http://www.YourDomain.com"
The search engine spiders (or robots) crawl the web, find the video entries, and pick up your URL. Bingo! You're suddenly more important.
2: Blogs. Search engines love blogs.
It's easy to see how you can use your own blog(s) to promote your site, but the trick is getting other people's blogs to promote your site.
It isn't hard to do. You target blogs that allow comments. You comment. And, in your comment, you include your URL. This is perfectly legitimate as long as there is real relevance between the blog and your site's content. If possible, be polite, and include the proper HTML to open your link in a new browser window or tab. You should never take a blog visitor totally away from the blog they came to see. That's poor Internet etiquette.
Be aware, however, that some blog owners will delete comments that look like ads, and some blogging software systems filter or screen URLs. Your job is to find the ones where your links "stick."
Free External Links Here!
When you join the Prestwood Community, you become a Prestwood "member." Membership is free, and comes with a nice bonus:
With your membership, you also get your own "home" page on the Prestwood site. You are more than welcome (within reason) to post links to your site(s) on your Prestwood home page. "Within reason" simply means that links to porn, racist, or other tawdry sites are not welcome.
The only thing we ask is that, when creating your hyperlink, you specify that your site should open in a new window. Please don't take others completely away from our site. As mentioned above, that's rude.
Some people are getting downright sneaky about inserting their links into blogs that have nothing to do with their web site, while "covering their tracks."
This is a slimy thing to do. It isn't hard to use some HTML tricks to "cloak" your link, but we're not going to disclose those details because doing it may put your domain in grave risk:
This kind of stunt could cause your domain to become "black-listed" by search engines. And that is a consequence that defeats your entire effort.
If you engage somebody to perform web site promotion for you, be very, very careful that they aren't using any scummy stunts. They may backfire with the result that nobody will find your site by searching Google or other search providers.
The Smarter Thing to do:
Long before you worry about building up a horde of external links, there are a number of important details, intrinsic to your own site's content, that need attention. By doing the right "housekeeping" within your own site, you can almost guarantee yourself good search engine rankings. Do this first - before you worry much about external links.
These tasks include:
Using appropriate "metatags," (keywords and key-phrases in an "invisible" are of each web page,)
Ensuring that page content corresponds to your metatags,
Providing unique page titles (everybody and his brother has a page titled "Home"), and
Providing appropriate alternate text for images.
Prestwood will shortly announce our new web site ranking and promotion services. Stay tuned for some exciting stuff!
What is image alternate text? I'm so glad you asked!
When you use the HTML "img" tag to display an image, there are some attributes that need attention.
The "src" attriubte is absolutely required. It specifies the URL to your image, and, without it, nothing can display.
According to W3C, the "alt" attribute is also required, though browsers may allow you to get away without specifying it. The alt attribute simply allows you to specify some arbitrary text; text that browsers can display when they are set to not display images. (Yes, users do that.)
Another useful attribute is "title." This is also arbitrary text that browsers can use to show in a pop-up when visitors hover over your image.
In the past, both the alt and title attributes were important in search engine ranking. This is not so much the case, these days. But, since we're talking about optimizations, I think it's important to specify both.
These attributes have another potential use: Bear in mind that search engines consider the relevance of keywords and phrases you specify in your meta tags. If those words and phrases don't appear on your page, the SEs may "ding" you. So alt and text can be used to introduce words and phrases that don't otherwise appear in your visible page text.
SE ranking aside, I think that specifying both alt and title attributes is just part of "doing the whole job."
Here's the complet syntax:
<img src="UrlToYourImage" alt="Your arbitrary alt text" title="your arbitrary title text"/>
Note: In old HTML, the img tag didn't require a closing tag (the forward-slash at the end of my tag, above). But DHTML does require the closing tag. So it's a good idea to form the habit of always supplying "closure" for your img tags.