This is the second in a series of marketing articles that will explain SEO
(Search Engine Optimization) on the Internet in layman’s terms. This
information is provided to help you modify your website so that it goes to
the top of the search engine rankings.
The Most Important
Thing You Can Do to Take Your Website to #1
There are many factors that Google and the other search engines use when
determining the ranking of your website. The biggest secret of SEO
(search engine optimization) is that only 40% of the ranking algorithm
result is based on something that is done on your website! The companies
that charge thousands of dollars to optimize your site are loathe for you
to understand this, but it is important for you to know so you can take
advantage of it through your own efforts.
Friends in Wide Places
Do you have
friends who have websites? Perhaps they own websites that have been in
existence longer or have more traffic than yours does? Is their business
complementary to yours? If so, then your two sites need to link to each
other because fully 60% of your search
engine rankings are based on the number of pages that link to yours.
Before you race off to contact all your friends to exchange links,
let’s look at some of the subtleties involved in reciprocal links.
Good Links vs. Bad Links
all, sites that link to yours must be trusted by the search engines. You
can tell a site is trusted when you see a green check mark next to it in
the Google rankings such as this one:
However, just because the site is trusted doesn’t necessarily make it a
“good” link. The site needs to be complementary to yours. In other
words, it needs to offer products and services that are of value to your
site visitors. For example, you don’t need a lingerie website linking to
your mediation website. However, if you are an attorney and have a
website for your legal practice that is separate from your mediation
website, then the two of them should automatically be linked to each
The Most Bang for Your
How a “good”
link appears on the website is just as important as the fact that it
exists at all. There are typically four different link methods:
You can include the
full domain name of the website (e.g.
but if the domain name does not include a keyword (e.g. mediation,
dispute, etc.) it won’t be as valuable a link as it could be.
Some people like to
list the company name and embed a link (e.g.
Digital Smart Tools),
but again if there isn’t a keyword included in the company name, then
it isn’t as valuable as it could be.
In some instances, people include a brief
description of the company they are linking to and then use an image
with an embedded link such as those below. Again, some of the value
is lost if a keyword isn’t part of the link.
Finally, you can
write a brief description of the link or just use keywords and embed
the hyperlink in those. For example:
instance the site that is linked to is now tied to the keywords, and
when the search engines rank the site it will be ranked based on these
keywords rather than just on the firm name.
How Many Links Do I Need?
There is no
optimal number on links. After a decade in the e-marketing business, we
have literally thousands of websites that link to ours (in part because of
the rich content on our site – something we’ll discuss next month). Every
month the number of links grows and so should yours because the more
trusted sites that link to yours, the higher you will rank in the search
first thing you need to do is go to every site where you are listed (e.g.
GODR, the Bar Association, your alumni associations, Chamber of Commerce,
etc.) and make sure your listing includes your web address.
After that, make sure you are listed in the free online directories such
as Kudzu; you don’t have to use the paid services as the aim here is just
to get your website listed online as many times as
contacting those friends whose websites are not direct competitors to
yours but who offer products or services that might be of value to your
clients. These could include office equipment companies, mediators whose
practice area is different from yours (either geographically or by topic),
or someone who offers a complementary service such as psychotherapy, etc.
Discuss with them the value of linking your websites. Remember, it will
do as much for them as for you!
How Well Are You Doing?
important to measure the effect of your efforts. Take time to have an SEO
analysis done before you start this project and do it again every 3-6
months. Unlike the actual search engine optimization work, an SEO
analysis is fairly cost efficient and will give you a good snapshot of
what you’ve done right and where you need improvement. We offer those
services to our clients (SEO
Analysis) and many other firms do too. Regardless of whom you use,
take the time to do one so you have a baseline to measure the improvement
from your future efforts.
Coming next month: Why
Content Counts - Building a Destination Website