Archive for March 1st, 2011

01
Mar
11

SEO: The Beast with Two Heads (part two)

Yesterday I babbled on for a while about those SEO elements collectively referred to as “spider-friendliness,” or “on page.” Today we’ll continue the babble with an introduction to the other half of the search marketing equation, “off page” SEO.

Today’s topic is link building. Tomorrow we’ll finish this series, I promise.

TWO:  Off page SEO (or, if you build it, will they come?)
So we know that a website should be built with spider-access in mind. We know that the spiders need to be able to navigate to every page, need to be able to read what’s there, and need to be able to understand the content. So far so good—but now what?

Once you’re sure you’re spider-friendly on site, the job moves off site.  It’s time to start spreading the word: “I’m here, and I want company!”  Off site search marketing is, at the surface level, much simpler to understand than all that on site stuff. It can really be broken down into two concepts, both of which can pretty neatly be described as Promotion.

  1. Link building. You know you need links. Everybody says so. Sites with lots of links rank better, sell more, and smell like lilacs. At the same time, you’ve probably heard that you don’t want any “bad” links. Well, okay, that sounds easy…..
  2. Reputation management. And this is something every business that ever existed (even back in the olden days before the Internets were discovered) should be doing from day one.

THINK LINK!
Link building is really easy to say, and very time-consuming and difficult to do. Sorry. It just is. Unfortunately, you still have to do it. In fact, done right,  you’ll need to do it, and then do it again, and then keep doing it for as long as you own a website. Sorry about that, too.  But it’s true.

First, you should do all the things that every SEO will tell you to do:  submit your URL to the one or two remaining (potentially) useful directories, ask your friends for links, trade a few, start a blog, write a few articles. Okay, but not nearly enough.

Link building should really be thought of as a web business philosophy and woven into virtually everything you and everybody around you does—every single day. That does not mean that you have send out thousands of spam emails asking for links every day, or that you need to spend lots of money getting low-value content written, or that you need to hire three interns just to post spammy comments in blogs. I means that you should think about the link potential of all your normal behaviors.

Do you use email? Put a link to your website in a signature that is automatically attached to every outgoing email from you and everyone else in your employ.

Do you belong to any industry-related organizations? Make sure you register with any of their forums and/or mail groups and/or other communities, and put a link to your website in your profile (and in the signature of your forum posts and comments, if allowed.)

Do you buy advertising? Don’t just put up a single-image ad, use images with quality link-text surrounding them.

Do you post classified notices for job recruitment, selling things, buying things, dating, or anything else? Why not add a link your website at the bottom of the notice? If the classified ad is in anyway relevant to your business so much the better, but even if it’s not, it cannot hurt.

Do you have any business relationships (vendors, suppliers, sales reps, syndicates, affiliates, service providers, etc.)? Exploit them. Bug them to put up a link until they either do it, or threaten you.

Do you do any traditional promotion? Press releases? Always make damn sure anything even remotely promotional contains a clear link in the attribution line, and you might even salt a text link or two into the body of the release.

Will you be adding any more content to the site? Well, you better think about it. And if your business has any connection at all to anything interesting, amusing, or useful you’ll be well-served to develop content specifically for “link bait,” that is, content so wonderful people all over the world will want to link to you. YouTube, games, apps, instructionals, free downloads, whatever.

I’d say your work is cut out for you. So enlist help. Get everybody on your team to Think Link. Get started the minute your site goes live and keep at it for a year or two and you will be amazed at how many links accrue. Tomorrow, we’ll talk about Reputation Management.

More on link building

What are external links and why do I need them?