Search Engine Optimisation, or SEO, is a hot topic because it is vital in
increasing the long term traffic to your website. It involves populating your
site with keyword-rich content; ensuring that all tags and headings are
correctly optimised and that your internal linking structure, site map and so
on are correctly set up. Perhaps most importantly, SEO requires
that you attract relevant links from other sites which are counted as `votes of
confidence` by the search engines.
You therefore need to identify and attract links from other sites within your
space. Clearly these are unlikely to be head-on competitors. Rather they should
be complimentary to the content and theme of your site. As a simple test, ask
yourself whether a partner would be of potential use to your own visitors.
free directories and article sites remain popular in building links, the
stature of these sites and thus the value of such links is diminishing. The
better links are those given by other professional sites in your space. Linking
must be about the exchange of value between sites. A few years ago this was
most popularly the exchange of links on a reciprocal `you link to me, I`ll link
to you` basis. Since there is now a widely held view that the search engines
are applying `dampening` factors to reciprocal links, webmasters have also
started to trade links on a `triangular` or `three way` basis with site A
linking to site B and site B linking back to site C. Other more sophisticated
options include offering content in return for a link: here one site benefits
from some free of charge, relevant content whilst the other obtains an
inbound-only link. In an ideal world, a blend of these approaches is best
employed as this will create more of a balanced `natural` link structure
preferred by the search engines with a mixture of inbound, outbound and
It is vital that you stick to ethical techniques: avoid free for all directories
which have little or no value and under no circumstances pay for links: this is
regarded as an unethical `black hat` approach and is expressly against the
search engines` terms of service with the risk of a ban or a ranking penalty.
When approaching link partners, you need to personalise your initial email
insofar as you can to ensure that the relevancy of the two sites as potential
link partners is obvious. Also make it clear as to what is on offer - from
where you are able to link to them or the type and quality of content you could
provide in return for a link. You may even have more innovative `value` to
offer such as affiliate commissions; discounts for the partner`s visitors or
perhaps some free technology or `widgets` useful for their site.
Ultimately, however you approach it, knowing
how to build links ethically is essential in generating natural traffic
to your website.