Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Building Relationships By Building Links

Link building plays a critical role in a website's rank on the popular search engines. When it comes to popularizing a website and attracting search engine traffic, SEO, or search engine optimization, is the first thing online marketers must focus on. This is an important ongoing activity that is highly cost-effective. By optimizing a website for the search engines, its chances of driving free targeted traffic increases substantially, resulting in more customers.

SEO involves building links, because this helps build relationships with prospective and existing customers and generate traffic. There are several ways in which links can help attract targeted traffic to a website.

When links to a website are placed on other sites, visitors to these sites click these links.

A website's incoming links are also used by search engines like Google, Yahoo!, etc., to assess the site. Websites that receive quality back links are ranked higher by the search engines. Thus, more quality links means more traffic.

But Why Build Links?

The answer to this question is that when a link points to a website from another high ranking or relevant site, the search engines classify it as an important resource for users. It ought to follow from this that an online marketer's job is done if thousands of links come into the website. However, not all links carry the same value. Some are worth more than others.

Why Are Some Links Worth More Than Others?

A link's value is determined by many factors. Google sees only some sites as trusted domains. This search engine's algorithm uses a complex process to evaluate links. Based on its assessment, some sites that are consistent sources of valuable information are judged as trusted domains. These could be news sites, blogs and other sites that carry information being sought by users. Links to these sites are considered better than quantity-based links from online directories and unknown blogs. It is not easy to receive incoming links from "trusted domains."

Factors Determine the Value of an Incoming Link

The primary factors that decide a link's value include the following:

A website's strength is evaluated with the help of several criteria, one of which is PageRank. PageRank is awarded on a scale of 1 to 10 and the higher the site's PageRank, the more valuable the link generated by it. Thus the link from a site with a PR of 2 is worth far less than a site with a PR of 8.

High PageRank alone is not enough. The site must be relevant to the linking site. This means that for a pet supplies site, a link from a PR 3 kennel site is more valuable than a link from a PR 6 lawyer's site. Linking sites must be complementary for the search engine to perceive them as trusted domains.

Anchor text
In the process of link building, the text used to write the links can make all the difference. The text that constructs the link is called the anchor text. For example, in "Enjoy a memorable Florida vacation," Florida vacation is the anchor text. This text takes the user to the URL that is likely to be

The anchor text helps the search engines to apply context to the site where the hypertext link leads. This is why it is vital to include anchor text that contains the primary keywords through which the website wishes to be found and ranked high.

The context of the page in which the link appears
In addition to the anchor text, Google also assesses the linking page's context so this is why it is important to receive incoming links from websites whose content is relevant to the site where the links go.

Link's location
Where the link features on a page in relation to other links on the page makes an impact. If the link is at the bottom of the page, it has less value than one that is closer to the top of the page. If the link is within the page content, it has more value than a link that is with a group of links. The search engines view a link as click-worthy based on where it is located and rank it accordingly.

The above are just a few reasons why link building is essential to SEO.

Link Building Strategies

There are several link-building strategies. What follows is a brief description of the most popular, and low-cost methods online marketers cannot afford to ignore.

Online Directories

Online directories are good sources of links. One can sign up and submit websites that are then approved by the directory for inclusion. The majority of the directories do not charge a fee. The important thing to note is the quality of the directories. While they are good for links, it is worth it to spend the time to choose directories relevant to the website's business to link to. Because links from directories are not difficult to get, Google does not rank these links very highly.

Directory submission is hard work and getting the best results involves customizing the content to the specific directory. A detailed list of general and industry-specific directories is available online, along with RSS and blog feed directories.

Press Releases

Press releases are an effective way to build links. Online marketers can outsource press release writing and distribution for a fee, or opt to do it themselves. Press release services permit a link back to the publisher's site and also carry a synopsis about the business. Sites such as are popular and distribute the press release to a huge audience. When a press release is well-written and grabs the reader's attention, it drives traffic and helps build links. Press releases also get noticed by news sites and blogs, bringing more traffic. Mashable has a list of free PR sites.


As a link building method, articles are a favorite with most Internet marketers. There are several websites that accept articles about any topic. To be effective, the article must be written concisely, must carry valuable information for the reader and have contextual links. A resource box at the end of the article is the most important part as it contains information about the author and links back to the website. There are article submission services that distribute the content to several sites quickly. It makes sense to seek sites that relate to the website's business for relevance, since this will help drive search engine traffic and build links.

Local Search

Google Maps is a great way to generate links and traffic, particularly with local search services. There are many services in addition to Google Maps such as Qype, Yahoo! local and BView.

Forum Posting

When done carefully, forum posting can generate substantial traffic and build links. Internet marketers must be cautious about not spamming and follow the forum rules strictly, ensuring that useful content is posted. This method works effectively when forums related to the website's business are chosen. It is important to follow conversation threads carefully and participate with valuable information.


It is critical for internet marketing business websites to attract links from high quality and high page rank sites. This, however, is not a simplistic process. Blogs and news sites receive link requests all the time and unless there is a convincing reason, the request may not be accepted. One way to overcome this is to offer content in return for the link. This is a time-consuming process but worth the effort.

Web Design Directories

When a website is well-designed and attractive, submitting it to design directories online can attract traffic and links. Designers who are a part of this community are likely to share the design of those websites which they find appealing. Lists of CSS and design directories are available online for quick reference.

Social Media Websites

Social media marketing is a highly effective way to build traffic and gain links. Members who sign up can build a profile with relevant content with links. Since social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, etc., see massive amounts of traffic it is critical for Internet marketers to develop their social media presence and leverage this medium.

Social Bookmarking

Users who surf the internet enjoy sharing what they like and social bookmarking makes this easy. Digg, Technorati, StumbleUpon,, etc., are extremely popular sites where users "bookmark" web pages and share them. Most web pages have a drop-down list of social bookmarking icons, making it easy for people to share the page on the site of their choice.

There are more than 400 social bookmarking and networking sites. Knowem is a site where marketers can book their username across several hundred sites quickly.

Stocklists and Suppliers

This works similar to service organizations that maintain lists of their prospects and customers that link to their sites. For Internet marketers, suppliers' lists can be a valuable source of links and targeted traffic.

The above link building methods are tried, tested and effective. The role of links in a website's search engine ranking cannot be underestimated. Even though it can take time and patience, the results are worth the effort.

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