With so many websites out there competing for customers and top spots in search engines, it seems like there’s a new magic bullet each day that’s supposed to propel your site to the very top. And some of that is because search engines continually change what they’re looking for in order to rank websites. But there aren’t many things you can do to bring more visitors to your website more effectively than the tried-and-true method of creating inbound links to your website.
First, and probably where you will spend your most time, is to find high quality websites to link to yours. Obviously, you probably won’t find direct competitors who are willing to link to you (Would you link to them?), so look for complementary websites instead. For example, if you are a landscaper, you may find that local garden centers, seed distributors, arborists, and the like, will link to your website from theirs. If you return the favor and link to their websites as well (called reciprocal links), everybody benefits!
The key here is to remember that this is about finding high quality websites to link to yours. Look for reputable, well established websites, most of which are about similar topics to yours, and you should do well. Try to avoid buying a bulk amount of links from other websites. These are called “link farms,” and search engines often penalize for this practice. Also be sure that the website you’re scoping out really appears to offer something valuable for its visitors. Being selective about where you choose to have links to your website will provide better results for your website’s rankings over simply trying to be everywhere.
Directories were once seen to be the end-all, be-all of search engine optimization techniques. However, times have changed. While being in most directories won’t harm your search engine ranking, they aren’t as helpful as they once were, either. Perhaps this is because web surfers don’t use directories too much anymore or because it can be easy to get listed in directories…often for the right price.
That said, there are still two directories that seem to positively affect search engine ranking. One, the Open Directory Project (www.dmoz.org), is free and is edited by live human beings. That means that they have to approve your listing before posting it, and sometimes, that can take months. The other directory, Yahoo! Directory (dir.yahoo.com), is also edited by live human beings, but costs $299 per year (as of this writing) to be listed if your website is a business or other commerical site.
You can look for other directories to be listed in as well. Some are free, some aren’t, and some require that you link back to them. It’s really up to you (and your budget) where you’d like to list your website. Rely on your gut instinct to determine if you feel that a particular directory is worth it or not.
If you’ve spent any time in a web forum, you may notice that some contributors add their website address to their signature (this is the at the bottom of the contributor’s post that may include their name and website address). While it may positively affect your search engine ranking only a little, it’s an excellent opportunity to get visitors to your website.
Here are some tips to remember in order to get the most out of forum signatures. First, select only a small handful of forums that are active and energetic to join. Second, join only the number of forums you think that you can reasonably keep up with. Third, be an active and frequent participant in the forum; you’ll become a respected member and keep reinforcing your website at the same time. Fourth, be a genuine participant in the forum; don’t be a salesperson. Finally, check the forum’s rules to know what you can and can’t do; you don’t want to be banned by putting your website in your signature if it’s not allowed!
Finally, if you have some basic writing skills, consider writing articles in your specialty. The internet is home to multitudes of article directories filled with articles written by people just like you. Webmasters and newsletter editors use these articles as content for their projects. And most article directories allow the author to include an “About the Author” section where you can write a couple of sentences about yourself, your products or services, and a link to your website. People who use these articles aren’t allowed to delete that information, so you’ve just achieved additional links to your website!
It’s up to you
Overall, when trying to boost your website’s ranking, you can’t go wrong in looking for reputable opportunities, such as other website’s links, directories, forums, and articles, to get links coming in to your website. You’ll positively affect your search engine rankings, and more important, pave roads for web surfers to come right to your door!