There are now some 80+ factors of your website that are taken into consideration when determining the ranking of your website. Everything from titles and META’s to content and ALT tags are weighed and analyzed when your placement on the search engines is determined. In a recent article by Ross Dunn, CEO of StepForth Search Engine Placement, he addressed the fundamentals of optimizing your web pages. The article he wrote was entitled “A Ten Minute Search Engine Optimization” and can be found on the StepForth website at http://news.stepforth.com/2003-news en-minute-optimization.shtml.
This article addresses many of the internal factors taken into account in determining your ranking. Another factor which has to be taken very seriously is the external links to your website. Links to your site are not the most important factor in determining your ranking and you will have to have a well-optimized site to rank well, however, when all else is equal (i.e. when your competitors also have well-optimized sites) this can be the determining factor between being found and being buried in the search engine rankings.
Links That Work
The first consideration you have to make in your link-building efforts is who should be linking to you and whom you should link to. These are two separate considerations and despite that fact that you will be working on both at the same time, they must be considered independently.
Who Should Link To You? (Incoming Links)
When you are looking for sites to link to you there are five questions that you must ask yourself:
1)Do they compete with you? While you can try to request a link from a site that provides the same or similar products and services that you do, this is generally a waste of time that could be spent finding legitimate links from sites that would like to promote your product or service.
2)Does their site relate to your content? If you have a site promoting carpet cleaning products, a link from a hair salon will not be of much benefit. Google and the other major search engines look for content relationship when determining the value of a link. If the content of the two sites is totally unrelated the link is given very little weight if any. Focus only on attaining links from sites relevant to your own.
3)How does Google rate the site? Google has come out with a fantastic tool called the Google Toolbar. The advanced version of the toolbar includes the PageRank of the site you are currently visiting. Without getting into a long description of PageRank (see Google’s definition), the higher the number the better (it is a ranking out of 10 where traditionally anything above 4 is good and anything above 6 is excellent. If Google rates the site well then the link will be more valued than from a site that Google rates poorly. When looking for links give more time and attention to those with PageRanks of 4 or higher. The Google Toolbar is a free download available from Google at http:/ oolbar.google.com/.
4)Will they require a reciprocal link? Whether the site will require a reciprocal link or not is a serious consideration. The more links to your site that you have that are not reciprocated the better. These links are given added weight. This area will be addressed further below.
5)How many links on the page? How many links are on the page that will link to you, and where your link will be placed is another serious consideration. If your link from their site will be on a page with 100 other links then the value of the link itself is greatly reduced. Also, whether your link will be on the top of the page or the bottom will also determine the value of the link itself.
This may be a lot to consider, however it can save you enormous amounts of time and frustration. People will often work for hours to attain a link from a site they like when in reality the site has a low PageRank and the link won’t even carry much weight as far as search engine placement is concerned.
It is only responsible to note that as a general rule any relevant inbound link will help somewhat. If, in your travels, you find a related site with a PageRank of 2 that is very simple to get a link from, it’s well worth your time to do so given that that time taken is only about 5 minutes. Not all link building is this simple and it’s in the more advanced efforts (email communications with the webmaster for example) that you will want to apply the above noted “rules”.