Thursday, May 22, 2008

Be a good neighbor, and make your site more popular.

Here's a simple tip for making your website more interesting to search engines and other site owners to get more traffic to your site. (This a simplified explanation, instead of using a lot of SEO gobbeldygook.)

Link to your own pages, especially when you're also linking to outside pages. Why is that so simple, and important?

Every page on your website or blog has a value. That value counts like a vote when you have a link to another page. Say a page on your site is worth a fictional value of 100, and you have five outbound links on that page. Each one of those links will give a vote of 100/5 = 20. If you had 100 outbound links on that page, each link would be worth a vote of 1 for the page it linked to.

giant strong chain linkLinks make your site more valuable in several ways

Search engines use these votes to determine what pages on the internet are more important than others. Let's break links into two kinds: linking to other pages on your own site, and linking to pages on other sites.

The first thing to know is that by linking to other sites search engines learn more about what you are about, so they can send more traffic your way for whatever topic your pages are most expert on. They also can send you more traffic if they determine that you link to other pages that might be useful. This means they might consider your site a good reference if you link to other sites.

Linking to other sites makes the owners of those sites more likely to visit and leave a comment, and even to link back to you from their site. This brings traffic from people who click the link and helps search engines learn more about your site, so they can send more of the right kind of traffic.

But each link to an outside site takes some of the value of your page and spreads it to to other sites. By contrast, if you only linked to your own pages, that value/those "votes" would all keep their highest value within your own website.

Linking computers and websites on the internetWhat to link to

What to do? Make sure that all the content on your site contains plenty of links to other pages on your OWN site, as well as some links where appropriate to other sites. That way you're not giving away too much of the value of your page to other sites, but you still make your site more valuable by linking to them.

Make sure the links are from words (known as the link's "anchor text") that are descriptive of the page they take you to. That way most of the value of the links is kept within your own site, but you also help the search engines learn more of value about your site (so they can send you more traffic) and you help other website owners learn about and take an interest in your site.

How to get links and find out who links to you

You can see who has links to your site by checking your statistics/analytics for referring sites, to see who has come to your site by clicking a link on another site. Another way is to sign up for Yahoo! SiteExplorer. Yahoo! will give you a list of the other sites that link to you. Don't try this on Google - they won't show you ALL the links.

Television is your biggest time waster!And don't forget to comment on other people's blogs - it produces a link back to your site, and is a friendly way of introducing yourself to other site owners and getting traffic (some search engines sometimes treat comments as a different class of link.) Also get involved on social sites like Twitter, Digg and MySpace and create links to your website on those sites. (Those sites are becoming more powerful all the time.)

Also try these advanced methods of getting links. Don't have time for any of this? Watch less TV and you'll have time. Here's a good overview of most of what you should be thinking about when promoting your website.

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