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Keep Up with Links

Another way of getting your Web address to customers and potential customers is to ensure that Web sites that potential customers visit have your URL on them.

StatMarket research suggests that 21% of Web site visitors get there via links from other sites, so it is well worth investing some time looking into the different methods by which you can add your Web site link to other sites. Sometimes this will cost money—for example, to publish banner ads or sponsor ads on another Web site—but it is possible to get your link published for free on other sites.

Many companies will publish your link for free if they get a reciprocal link on your site, for example. If you do provide reciprocal links, be sure to weave the links into the content of your site, to make them more relevant to the needs of your customers so that they will get the best use from those links.

When looking for potential reciprocal link partners, look for sites that have good content that is applicable to your market. Such sites are likely to attract the most visitors who could also be potential customers for you.

To determine how many links on other Web sites are linking to your URL, go to Google.com and type link:yoururl. You might be surprised! Microsoft.com returns 139,000 links of this kind; Amazon.com returns 254,000.

One of the factors that determines how your site is ranked on most search engines these days is the number of links to your site from other "quality" sites (backlinks), as well as link popularity. Thus, it is worth spending some time getting your URL onto as many other sites as possible.

However, note that it is important to check out the quality of the site that is linking to you also. Be especially wary of viral marketing sites that spam your Web site link all over the Internet. Most search engines are now wise to this scheme, and all customers get turned off by it. Google's recent controversial Florida Update was aimed at removing these kinds of sites from its top rankings; you can use the Google toolbar to check out Google's numeric ranking of the "quality" of a site.

Here is an excerpt from Google's explanation of site ranking within its search engine listings:

PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web by using its vast link structure as an indicator of an individual page's value. In essence, Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives; it also analyzes the page that casts the vote. Votes cast by pages that are themselves "important" weigh more heavily and help to make other pages "important."

Important, high-quality sites receive a higher PageRank, which Google remembers each time it conducts a search. Of course, important pages mean nothing to you if they don't match your query. So, Google combines PageRank with sophisticated text-matching techniques to find pages that are both important and relevant to your search. Google goes far beyond the number of times a term appears on a page and examines all aspects of the page's content (and the content of the pages linking to it) to determine if it's a good match for your query.

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