Whether you’re launching a brand new business and a website is part of your startup efforts or you’ve been running a business for a while and you’ve only recently realized the importance of including an online portal in your marketing and outreach efforts, you might be rather green when it comes to the prospect of promoting your website through search engine optimization. Unfortunately, you’re facing a pretty steep learning curve, but considering how much you stand to gain by getting ranked on popular search engines, it’s well worth the effort. That said, you need to understand that the rules of the game can change rapidly, so you need to make sure you’re not learning outdated strategies that are likely to land you on Google’s hit list (or worse, get you delisted). For example, link building strategies of old will now earn you the boot thanks to Google’s Penguin update; plenty of websites found that out the hard way when they failed to clean up offending links quickly enough. But there are several new strategies you can participate in when it comes to building links and raising your page rank. Here are a few to consider when starting your new website.
- Link earning. Forget about hiring paid link-building services; sites that did so in the past were the source of Google’s ire and the target of their smiting when they launched Penguin. On the other hand, you can’t exactly afford to sit by idly and play it safe while your competitors gain ground. For this reason it is important to view link building in a new light – this is the era of link earning. What this means is that you need to stop creating passive links and instead use those that require manual action, which basically entails approval by an actual person. This type of link will not only hold up to Google scrutiny, but it could actually show a more pronounced return in the way of click-through since it is a sort of trusted recommendation. So skip spam sites and opt for high-quality link opportunities.
- Image links. Using images with embedded links is a great way to offer value to viewers, break up text on your pages, and encourage sharing and reposting (since people are more likely to share graphics than dense bodies of text). This will help your link to propagate, potentially increasing both traffic to your site and recognition by search engines.
- Join a community of peers. While joining forums is a great way to get to know your colleagues in the online arena, you’ll find that joining professional groups can become an integral part of your link-building strategy. If you’re looking for reasons to join your local Chamber of Commerce or the Better Business Bureau, the quality links you’ll gain are excellent motivation. But getting to know your peers via professional forums can offer you another opportunity to make connections and potentially swap links.
- Variable anchor text. Links to your website don’t necessarily have to be comprised of your URL (although that is certainly one option). You can use anchors in a body of text, for example, containing your brand name, an exact word match to a page on your website (you could even use titles or exact quotations), a partial-match (like a similar word or phrase), or even something totally generic such as “click here” or “see more”. By utilizing a wide variety of anchor text options for links you can increase value and decrease the potential for infractions with search engines.
- Optimize social media accounts. Did you know that signing up for certain sites through your Facebook or Twitter accounts will result in them posting a link back to whatever websites you have listed in your profile or bio? Klout, SNpros, and TagWalk are just a few examples, and they offer the added benefit of analytical data concerning your social media efforts.
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This post was submitted by Sarah Harris.