your business online

All About Weblinks

Links are incredibly important if you are a website owner – without links to your website it's likely your website will never be found by more than a handful of people. Unfortunately it isn't like the film "Field of Dreams" starring Kevin Costner – "Build it and they shall come".

A website is very much like a bricks and mortar business you have to advertise where you are – you have to constantly work at it. We are going to show you how to do this!

What's the point of it all?

First of all before you start getting links to your site – there must be a reason for you doing this – you're not doing it for fun! Quite frankly I cannot think of a more daunting, boring task than getting links to your website!

So in a nutshell the whole purpose of obtaining links to your website is to drive traffic to your website and that's all (pretty much)!

So let's take a look at the benefits for your website (business)…

  1. Without any links to your site, search engines will find it difficult to find your site in the first place.
  2. By having links to your site – the major search engines will come back again and again to visit your website.
  3. By having links to your site – it's equivalent to a vote for your website – the more links the more votes.
  4. People click links all day that's how they generally get to your site.

Let's look at those points in a bit more detail…

1. Without any links to your site, search engines will find it difficult to find your site in the first place

Well the actual thing looking for your site is a "crawler" (also called a spider or a bot) sent by a server (a computer) – in a nutshell – this crawler is sent to a page on your website – it then takes the information that it finds on the page back with it. This information is then effectively split up into components and stored and indexed in a huge database where it can be searched (in other words the search engine: Google, Yahoo, Bing etc.)

2. By having links to your site – the major search engines will come back again and again.

By having lots of inbound links to different pages on your website means more crawls of your website.

But remember in order for a crawler to find new pages on your site – the new pages must be navigable – in other words it's important to have a good link structure.

3. By having links to your site – it's equivalent to a vote for your website – the more links the more votes.

In theory there must be a good reason why one site will provide a link to your site – or maybe you gave someone a "brown envelope stacked with cash."

Working out the theory: A crawler visits your site from an external link and all the information is stored in a big index. This information is effectively analysed using an algorithm (a mathematical formula). The algorithm decides how important this link is – so if the link is from a pharmacy related site and your site is about lingerie the algorithm will pick up on all of this information and say that the vote wasn't really worth much if anything at all. It may even deem it as SPAM and penalize your site.

On the contrary let's suppose you have a link from the home page of http://www.business.com – this will clearly be a much better vote for your site than the one from the pharmacy website. Although a search engine may view the link as suspicious if the page it is voting for is new or not deemed very important and again the vote may be worthless in the short term.

These kind of links effectively go into what's commonly known as the "sandbox". The worthiness of the link is quarantined off until it is proven/disproved over time.

Google has a way of measuring these votes and they then issue each page with a Page Rank (PR). A score from 0-10.

Note: If a webmaster adds the following code to a link it discounts the vote – rel = "nofollow"

<a href=http://www.site.com target="_blank" rel="nofollow">site.com</a>

Finding out the PR of a web page

You can go along to this site and check the page rank of a particular site.

Or you can download the Google toolbar (only seems to work for internet explorer now).

http://toolbar.google.com

One thing to be wary of is constantly looking at Page Ranks of sites and correlating Page Rank with success or failure. Just because a site has a low Page Rank doesn't mean it isn't successful – there can be many reasons for high and low Page Ranks – they could even be wrong! In October 2005 http://www.msn.com had a PR of 3!

Clearly something had gone wrong with the way Google had calculated their Page Rank or someone at Google was having a laugh!

4.People click links all day that's how they generally get to your site.

It stands to reason then that the more links out there - the more chance of a human being clicking on the link and visiting your site.

Well unless a person visits your site you are unlikely to generate any sales – there are millions of casual surfers sitting at home on their PC constantly clicking links and ending up in all sorts of weird and not so wonderful places – it stands to reason then that having lots of links means there is a chance of a human being actually clicking a link and coming to visit you.

Different types of links!

There are several types of common links:

  1. One Way Links (natural Links)
  2. Reciprocal Links
  3. Site Wide Links
  4. Sponsored (Paid for links) Links
  5. Three Way Links
  6. Affiliate Links
  7. Contextual Links
  8. Internal Links
  9. Deep Links
  10. External Links
  11. Graphic Links
  12. Dead Links
  13. Broken Links

Let's define what each one is and the impact it can have on your website…

1. One Way Links (Natural Links)

All links go only one way – BUT the big difference here is someone is prepared to vote for your site without you reciprocating a link (see below). These are the best links to have to your site – if you can build a lot of these up from good quality sites – this should give your website a big boost in the search engine results over time. This is how huge sites become huge! A huge site has many natural resources which website owners feel naturally compelled to link to – therefore it is clear that to become huge yourself – having great resources is a big puller in terms of natural linking!

2. Reciprocal Links

This is where two websites communicate with one another and agree to trade links – Website A puts a link on their website pointing to a page on Website B. Website B reciprocates the link by link to a page on website A. This is a very straightforward process which most websites will happily take part in.

This is a very important aspect of building up your links to your site. We are going to talk more about this later…

3. Site Wide Links

This is commonly where a link appear within a template of a web page and hence it appears on virtually every page of a website as by definition the link is part of the template and it is common practice for web designers to just use 1 or 2 templates to create all of the web pages for a single domain. Some websites will offer links to your site for monthly / yearly payments – the idea being that a lot of links to your site could only be a good thing – and paying a few dollars per month was a cheap and easy method of doing this. The popularity of this has severely declined as there is evidence that this can harm (see Google bowling) or have little to no effect on your rankings within the major Search engines.

4. Sponsored or Paid for Links

This is a one way link which might be site wide BUT you are paying the website owners money to put the link on their site pointing to your own. On the whole this can be good as long as the link is a logical extension of the website placing the link – i.e. they are on the same topic and it is clear that the link could easily pass itself off as a normal resourceful link – then there should be no harm and only benefit for your website in doing this. The key points are stay on topic and make sure the link isn't under the title of advertisements / sponsorship – in future google could pick up on this and add it to it's algorithm as a negative point.

5. Three Way Links

This is the same as reciprocal links except in this case Website A links to Website B, Website B links to website C and Website C links back to website A. The idea here is that it is less transparent that you are making obvious links and it looks more like a natural link. Usually one person will own two websites or all 3! And make it clear what is going on. It's important that you try and broker the best deal for yourself and get the most prominent website available linking to you and not the other way around.

Or a better way of three way links is website B votes for website A, and website A votes for website C. One person may own website B & C and another own website A – this is another good method of getting away from a direct link between websites.

6. Affiliate Links

If you have a product to promote – you may offer people a commission for promoting your product. They would place a link on their website for example – so this could easily act as a one way link – so you can get an added benefit of not only improving your sales but increasing your page rank as well. Usually an affiliate link will look something like http://www.your-business-online.com/?ac=bizp45 where the ac=bizp45 is your / their affiliate link code.

Clickbank uses these special hoplinks…

http://bizplans1.tutorial.hop.clickbank.net - so the links don't link directly to your site and therefore aren't as good as the above linking method.

7. Contextual Links

These are extremely good links to have to your site – as they come under the natural links category – a good example would be where someone has written an article on a particular topic and included a link to another useful website that is based on the topic of writing e.g. Suppose you write here is a great place to get your sustainable fabrics.

Blogs are the popular method of contextual linking..more on Blogs later…

8. Internal Links

These are all the links that link to other pages within your site structure. It is very important that you don't get web pages orphaned off with no internal links to – if this is the case the page will have great difficulty in getting index by the search engines. One thing you can do is provide a "site map" of your site – this is basically a tree structure of how your site is put together – this is great for web crawlers.

9. Deep Links

These are really good links to have - basically instead of linking to a home page they link to a page deeper in the site - it might link several directories deep to display a product - for example circus animals fabric. In order to get to this page normally - you might have to go to the funky kitsch home page - then go in category fabrics and then click the actual product.

10. External Links

This is any link which takes a person away from your site. One useful tip which is easily forgot is when creating the link to use the Target attribute e.g.

<a href="http://www.free-business-plans.com" target="_blank">Free Business Plans</a>

Using this code will open a new window – which means your web page is still open.

11. Graphic Links

This is simply the use of a graphic in place of the anchor text – this isn't as beneficial as anchor text. A graphic doesn't have any text so it is unreadable by the web crawler – it may look more aesthetically pleasing but it isn't benefiting your business nearly as much as a normal text link.

12. Dead Links

Dead links are the links that are in the website and when they are clicked they don't open a web page and they don't even show some error.

13. Broken links

Broken links are the links that are in the website and when they are clicked they don't open a web page rather they show some error – usually the dreaded 404 error. When you update a website it's important to try to keep the pages the same name – if you keep changing the pages then search engines will still list the old pages and many people will visit your site and get a 404 error. Another must do is creating a 404 error trapping page. Rather than seeing the dreaded 404 error page…

Page Not Found

This is the sort of message that will chase your potential customers away quicker than the speed of light (well that might be a slight exaggeration – but you get the picture!)

Create A Special 404 Error Page

By creating a custom 404 error page with links to your products or home page you have a better chance of retaining the potential customer.

custom error page

If you are interested in creating your own custom error pages and much more visit the following site... http://www.javascriptkit.com/howto/htaccess.shtml
It's a great resource on all the things you can do with the ".htaccess file".

Methods of Advertising a Website

There are many ways to skin a cat!

(Although personally speaking I don't know one – just the idea makes me feel queasy!)

There are also lots of ways of advertising your website…

  • Search Engine Submission
  • Free Directories
  • Submission Software
  • Press Article.
  • Submitting Articles.
  • Blogging
  • Paid Directories
  • Authority Directories
  • Web Forums

1. Search Engine Submission

From a natural search engine point of view it's extremely important you can be found in these directories – these three alone will create the most Search Engine traffic to your site. Google is so widely used at the moment – it drives about 50% of the entire internet to websites – that's how big a monopoly it has.

The Major Search Engines are:

Personally speaking submitting your website is a waste of time and money – search engines send spiders to find out about your websites – just make sure you have a decent amount of links to your pages and a good navigation structure in place.

2. Free Directories List

Most of these work in a similar way – they offer paid inclusion if you want instant submission. Some will ask for a reciprocal link for more features in return.

Before submitting to a directory do a quick search for your URL to see if you are already listed.

3. Submission Software

Have you received e-mails saying stuff like – we'll submit you to over 1,000,000 search engines for just $49?

These sites simply use search engine submission software…there are a few to chose from…the main one was WebPositionGold (WPG) before it got banned by google.

Others are still going in some guise or other...

These should do the job for you of submitting to the search engines and many directories – by pre-filling in some general information – the software then takes the information and fills the forms online for you.  

4. Press Article

This is another way of getting exposure – many newspapers are constantly searching for content to fill up their pages. You'll be surprised how easy it is to get your website mentioned in a national newspaper. We got www.tutorials-4-you.co.uk mentioned in the Daily Mirror in Sir Alan Sugar's column.

Use www.prfree.com to submit press releases also.

5. Submit an Article

By submitting an article for free – you get to post a link back to your web page at the bottom of the article – also by posting an article you are suddenly seen to be an authority figure – "an expert" on the topic you are writing about. It's a nice feeling to suddenly be seen as an expert in your chosen field!

6. Paid Directories

Well there are millions out there to be honest and they are very easy to find so we are only going to include one obvious one as an example…google is frowning upon sponsored links.

http://www.business.com

Before joining a paid directory – have a check with it's Alexa ranking..

http://www.alexa.com - Alexa will give you some very useful information as to how many people are visiting the site. If hardly any traffic comes to the site then the whole thing isn't going to be worth it…

  • Is it in the top 1,000,000 popular sites?
  • Has the site been on the internet a while or is it new?
  • Has it's traffic rank plummeted recently?
  • Does it have proper contact information?

7. Authority Directories

Also it's important to submit to directories about your business that is seen as an authority directory on a particular subject. For example if you are a plumber then you might want to get in a directory like the following…

http://www.masterplumbers.com/plumbers/

There are loads of specialized directories out there – if it's free to join and it's relevant to your website then join it!

8. Creating a Blog

Running a blog is another free and easy way of creating traffic to your site. There are hundreds of blogging sites – but I recommend to put a blog on your own website.

Blog Spamming

As soon as rss feeds came out it wasn't long before the spammers were using them to create links to their own websites – so google have implemented a way of making these links worthless from a Page Rank point of view – you can read more here…

Effectively though specialized Blog sites are now adding a bit of code to each link - rel="nofollow".

This means crawlers won't crawl your site from this link. This is why it's important to have your own blog where this bit of code won't be added – you are in control of your own coded links!

9.Website Forums

Forums are another great place to add a link to your site – usually you'll have to register with a forum to post anything. But within your post you can link to other websites and you can also add your own signature every time you post.

You'll find many forums at the top of your search engine results – if you sell a product that can help somebody out and you post a link to it in a reply then that is a perfect way of getting exposure for your product or service. You get a double benefit of targeting your potential clients and getting links to your website within the post and links to any other websites that are in your signature. This can so often be a triple whammy!

Be careful not to over do it though – if you post 3 or more posts that all link to your website then admin will likely remove all of your posts and then will probably ban you for life – so do one link to your site (plus your signature) and try to add a few more posts without leaving a link – just some good advice.

Reciprocal Links Revisited

Okay we've mentioned reciprocal links being important and this will generally be one of the backbones of your internet business getting good quality links from link partners.

So where do you get Reciprocal links from?

  • Specialised Websites
  • Your Competitors
  • Software

1. Specialised Websites

A good place to start is..

http://www.linkpartners.com/search.html

Simply do a search for a keyword related to your website and you should get a decent list to start with of websites who want to trade links with you.

These sites can often be a platform to find other sites that link to other related sites.

2. Your Competitors

By looking at a competitors website you can see how many websites link to their site. Now if they link to certain sites then it can be an easy process to also ask for a link off these sites linking to your competitor.

If you go to Google or most search engines and type..

Link:www.nameofcompetitor.com

This will give all the links to www.nameofcompetitor.com

3. Software

A useful piece of software to help you even more is SEOElite

A word of warning before you get over excited with this software. The software can help you increase your rankings if you are willing to put the work in – the software will help speed up a lot of the processes involved in obtaining natural positioning, in the Major Search Engines. BUT beware that this software will generally tell you why a site might be number one then and there – which is obviously important; but be careful and think what you are doing – steps that you take now may have an adverse effect on your website in the near future.

Link Organising

Before getting your links you need to do the following..

  1. Organise your potential reciprocal links
  2. Create a Link Form
  3. Creat Link To Us Text
  4. Free Link Software

1. Organise

Here is an example of a well laid out links page – with further logical sub categories.

http://www.a1-backing-tracks.com/links.html

links

Each category has no more than 25 links within the category. The links page also links directly to and from the home page. All the links and link categories are also on topic. At the bottom of the page there is a link to a link form where people can request a reciprocal link.

2. Link Form

Creating a link form is easy to do – and directs the user to give you the important information.

http://www.a1-backing-tracks.com/link-form.html

link form

A link form should contain the following requests.

  • Title Name: This will be the anchor text to there website
  • URL to link to: The URL of their website.
  • Email: you'll need to contact them to say you've posted a reciprocal link.
  • Description: The description of their website
  • Category: Which category they would like to be placed in
  • Suggest Category: A new category that you may not of thought of.
  • Reciprocal link location: you need to know where they have posted your link in return.

3. Link To Us

Obviously before another website can link to you they must also know the link information of your site – put a link to your link form to these details and request that they put the link on before filling out the information regarding their own site.

http://www.a1-backing-tracks.com/link_to_us.html

link to us

It's important to have a good description of your site, I would also vary it on a monthly basis – this way everyone who links to your site doesn't link with the same wording each time.

4. Link Software

http://www.onlinemarketingtoday.com/software/link-management

Miscellaneous Information

  1. Google Bowling
  2. The Law of Links
  3. Link Farms
  4. Cross Links
  5. Link Burst
  6. Keep Your Page Out of the Search Engines

1. Google Bowling

Believe it or not it is actually possible to kill off your competitors search engine position. In Google's Bourbon update (every update to the Google algorithm gets a silly name!), they had a go at sites paying for links and obtaining site wide links. If you paid for site wide links – suddenly over night you'd have lost position on 99% of your keywords – you'd disappear from the internets number one search engine!

http://www.google.com/webmasters/facts.html

On this page it used to say (before it was completely removed)…

Fiction: A competitor can ruin a site's ranking somehow or have another site removed from Google's index.

Fact: There's almost nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. Your rank and your inclusion are dependent on factors under your control as a webmaster, including content choices and site design.

In Ye Old Days it used to say…

Fact: There is nothing a competitor can do to harm your ranking or have your site removed from our index. Your rank and your inclusion are dependent on factors under your control as a webmaster, including content choices and site design.

So to take that one step further simply obtaining site wide links to your competitors websites would have the same effect – voila! – no more competition – that my friends is Google Bowling!

2. The Law of Links

It is perfectly legal for any website to link to another website and you do not need to inform or ask their permission to do so. You are responsible for what you say about the website – so a link like – this is a really **** website is slanderous and you could be pursued in a court of law.

3. Links Farms

Link farms are to be avoided – these are basically pages with hundreds of links and quite often collected in a haphazard sort of a way. You may find 300 links or more on a single page ranging from advertising Drug related websites to porn to normal business websites. Another words a complete mish-mash of links, which make absolutely no sense in being near one another. Having a link on one of these pages is a complete waste of your time – AVOID like the plague!

4. Cross Links

Try to avoid cross linking within the same C block (IP=XXX.XXX.CCC.XXX)
If you have many sites with the same web host, let's say you are sharing a server - prolific cross-linking can indicate that all these sites are purposefully collaborating purely to increase the amount of links to one another. This is easy to spot by the search engines and easy to penalize so don't do it!
If you have many sites then I would advise getting hosting from multiple companies – I agree it's a bit of an administration problem as well as being a technological problem of having to learn how different servers operate, but if you are a serious player then it makes perfect sense – as well as the advantage of having your websites dispersed on different servers across the globe.

5. Link Burst

This is where your site suddenly gets a ton of links pointing to it within a very short space of time – this is known as a link burst – Google frowns upon this and you'll end up in the Google sandbox – the analogy is that to suddenly get so many links you must have done something artificial! So steady link building is the way to go.

6. Keep Your Pages out of the Index

You may want to keep yourself out of the search engines for various reasons. If you don't want a page to be indexed, insert this <meta> tag within your page's <head> tag:
<head>
<meta name="robots" content="noindex, nofollow">
</head>

You should also create a file called robots.txt which would look something like this

#
# robots.txt for http://www.tutorials-4-you.com
#

# exclude some access-controlled areas
User-agent: Mediapartners-Google*
Disallow: /formmail
Disallow: /javascript
Disallow: /style
Disallow: /logs
Disallow: /404

This will stop those folders with / being visited and indexed by a spider.

Resources

A few web resources to keep you better informed…

http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/about.html - Good point to jump to some interesting and informative places on Google.

http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/webmasters - Information for webmasters regarding Google.

http://www.google.com/contact/spamreport.html - Report SPAM websites to Google – report competitors dodgy web design antics! Move yourself up in the SERP's by getting rid of the dodgy opposition(Search Engine Results page).

https://www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps/login - Google Sitemaps is an easy way for you to help improve your coverage in the Google index. It is a collaborative crawling system that enables you to communicate directly with Google to keep them informed of all your web pages, and when you make changes to these pages.

http://www.webmasterworld.com - Really popular site – very deep discussion – some people cannot function without this site!

http://searchenginewatch.com/ - Search Engine Watch tells you what's going on in the world of search engines.