SEO Packages

How to get referrals and gain credibility on the Web

s your goal to get more traffic on your Website without spending a lot of money? Is it important that your Website is easy for your prospects to find on the Web? Though there are many things that contribute to a quality, well-positioned Website, increased link popularity – done properly – will establish your business as trustworthy on the Internet and bring more referrals.

Benefits of increasing link popularity
Every time you place a link on your site to another Website, you are referring business to them. It is likely that your customers will also check out the businesses that you sponsor on your site and perhaps do business with them, as well. Visitors to your site who believe your business is credible, will also be excellent candidates for those websites on your resources page. Conversely, a link to your site is a referral from another business to yours.

Gain credibility with your online market
When a business places a link on their Website to yours, they are recommending your business as a credible source of information, and not only that, but it also provides services or products to their customers and visitors. On the Web, there is no greater compliment than to be on the receiving end of traffic referred from thousands of quality business Websites. This is how a link building campaign gains credibility for your site.

Gain higher search engine rankings
Because links on the Web establish referrals and credibility, search engines rank sites with good link popularity higher than sites with lower link popularity. When a search engine reviews your Website, it is looking for all kinds of things about your website that go into its algorithm for ranking. One of these factors is the number and quality of links from other Websites to your site. Basically, it considers a link to your site as a vote. So the more votes a site has, the higher a site can rank in the search engines. Obviously, there is more to achieving top rankings than just getting a lot of links, but it is a significant factor that can move a site’s ranking from the top 20 to the top 10 for a particular keyword in major search engines. In many cases an increase in link popularity can be the key that puts a site in the coveted first place slot.

How to do a link building campaign
You may be asking, “So how do I get more quality links to my Website?” First, get listed in good quality directories such as Open Directory (Google’s directory), the Yahoo! Directory, About.com, GoGuides.org, and Gimpsy.com. Many of these directories are free but some of them charge a fee. There may be specific portals for your industry that will list your site; check Galaxy.com for some of these. If you sell products on your site, it may be worth it to be listed in an online mall such as Shop.com, Yahoo Stores and/or MSN e-shops. If you are more focused on local business, look for business directories in your area. For example if you live near the Metro Atlanta area, Kudzu.com is a great place to list your site.

Link Exchange
After you are listed in some directories, build a resources page on your site and begin swapping links with other companies you already work with and others that complement what you do. For example, it makes sense for a carpeting and rugs retailer to swap links with a quality carpet cleaning service. Use your common sense when selecting businesses to recommend; you’ll want to choose companies that offer services and products your customers are likely to need and vice-versa. The rule of thumb when link exchanging is to add the link to your site ONLY if it makes good business sense.

Online Media Placements
Many online audiences are targeted by advertising on websites that cater to that niche audience. A well-placed banner ad or media on these niche websites will get the attention of your audience and a well-designed media ad will get click throughs to your site. As long as the ad links to your site, online media placement builds link popularity.

Publish Articles Online
Another great way to increase link popularity is to publish informative articles on your site and submit them to appropriate online publications. Many of these online publications will either link directly to the article on your site – increasing your site’s link popularity — or post the entire article on their site with your contact information. A good place to post articles is FreeSticky.com.

RSS Feeds
Real Simple Syndication Feeds make your articles available immediately to all websites that want to syndicate your content on their site. RSS feeds link back to the author’s website where the article is contained, thus a great technique for building links. One place to register your RSS feed is Syndic8.com.

Online Press Releases
Issuing a newsworthy article to the press is an excellent way to increase link popularity. Your press release needs to be optimized for specific search terms and linked back to your website to get the greatest return for a link building campaign. I always use a professional copywriter to write press releases for my company and for my clients.

Blogs
Blogs have received much attention over the past few years and it’s easy to see why. More and more people use blogs to express themselves, educate, entertain and connect with others who have similar interests. A well-managed blog that becomes a great resource for current info on a topic brings many volunteer links. Start your own free blog at Blogger.com.

Develop A Link Worthy Site
Your site will gain links without asking for them when your site is viewed as an industry resource, or a great place to learn about products in your industry, or has a unique online tool for the industry. If your site is full of wonderful, useful information other sites will naturally link to it without you even asking. This is by far the most effective link building technique because the search engines are all about favoring “in demand” content!

Affiliate Programs
Finally if you are serious about your link building campaign, set up an affiliate/referral program. You may have seen a small banner ad on a site saying “Buy this book at Amazon.com.” When you click on this message, Amazon.com pays that affiliate a commission on every sale made from those referrals to their site. This is the essence of an affiliate/referral program. Businesses that want to make sales without all the hassles will sign up for your affiliate program and place a link from their Website to yours. Of course you have to pay them a commission on all sales from their Website, but your link popularity will take off. Make sure the link points directly at your site rather than the affiliate program’s site. And that, my friend, is what we’re talking about here, a good link building campaign is the way to go!

Things to avoid in your link building campaign
Search engines are becoming more sophisticated, changing their ranking algorithms frequently to weed out the sites that use “illegal” or unfavorable means to gain high rankings. To make the most of your site’s good qualities, it’s best to avoid:

* Tricks to get you noticed. When a search engine encounters one of these mal practices, that site will be penalized — and possibly even banned — from the search engine.
* Link farms and Free For All links pages, are nothing more than long lists of Websites; they do nothing for a site’s link popularity because the vast majority of these pages are not even found in the search engines. In order to increase link popularity, the web page that contains the link to your site must be in the search engine’s database and contain a small number of outbound links.

In conclusion, a link building campaign is a process that should be ongoing. As your link building campaign grows on the Web, so will your business.

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