Increasing Link Popularity

Search engines are the gateway to the Internet. They are the first tool that potential customers use to find the products and services they need. This is why link popularity is so imperative. If the customers do not find your website, you have no possibility of making any sales.

You’re probably wondering what the blazes are popular about a link! Well, in a word – plenty! Link popularity refers to the ranking assigned to your website by the search engines, and it determines the ranking your page gets when keywords are entered into a search engine. So, you’re probably wondering, how do I make my link popular?

Search engines are discretionary, giving status and ranking to sites with links to their pages from related, quality sites. It’s a simple formula, but a significant one. Google created the system, and now virtually all the most popular search engines employ it to rank your web pages in their indexes.

The more commonly used your keyword is, the harder it will be to achieve link popularity, but it is almost certain your site will never rank highly on any search engine without achieving this step. But don’t be discouraged; there are tried and true ways of achieving link popularity using the most competitive keywords.

There are a few things you should be aware of. The first is that just linking up with many other websites will not achieve link popularity. In fact, it may have quite the opposite effect. This is particularly true when about nothing more than “link farms” – pages containing line after line of indiscriminate links. Search engines may aggressively discriminate against your website if you are associated with a link farm, so steer clear of them!

The next thing to bear in mind is the quality of the site you are linking to. Never link to a page you have reservations about your visitors seeing. The last thing you want your website to appear as is indiscriminate and cheap.
Linking to sites of poor quality will only lessen your link popularity, if not destroy it.

So let’s get to what you need to do to achieve supreme link popularity and improve your rankings to stellar status on all the popular search engines.

The first step and the fastest way to get your foot in the door is to get a listing in a popular directory, such as Open Directory Project and Yahoo. If your site is business-related, you will want to be listed on Yahoo, and even though it will cost you around $300 a year, it will be money well spent. If your site is non-commercial, the listing will be free, but it will take time and follow-up to get it listed. Open Directory gives you a free listing, whether you are business-related or non-commercial, but be prepared to make many follow-up inquiries before you see your site listed.

You aim to get listed in the highest level of appropriate category, which takes some common sense. For example, if your company ships Alpaca wool from an Alpaca farm located in the middle of Nowhere, Tiny State, do NOT submit your listing to “Retailers from Nowhere, Tiny State.” BIG MISTAKE! All you have to do is look a little deeper – and submit your listing to the “Fine Alpaca Wool” category. You will not only associate yourself with culture and quality, but you will be listed in a national category.

After you have attained directory listings, the next step is to locate other quality sites to increase your link popularity. Try to find sites that are in some way related to yours, so not only will your link popularity increase, but your customer base may also be expanded. You want to avoid your competitors and look for sites that are useful to your site’s visitors. Let’s look at the Alpaca Wool site example. Linking up to a site that sells knitting supplies would help your visitors, and the chances of the knitting supply site wanting to link up to your site are also greater. By linking to a related site that will be relevant to your website’s traffic, you are increasing both of your site’s business prospects – and both of your sites’ link popularity.

Not all sites want to link to other sites, so you will have to research when looking for possible linking partners. Google is an excellent starting place for your search. Make sure you enter keywords that you think quality customers will also enter to find your own site.
Remember, your criteria are quality, highly ranked, non-competing websites with links or resources page.
Go to these sites and objectively assess them. Look at the quality of the product, the graphics, and the ease of use.
Then check out the other sites they are linked to, and determine if your own site would fit in with the crowd.

When you decide you have found a good prospect, you must set out to woo them. The first thing to do is to add a link on your own links page to their site. This is an essential first step; it shows good faith and ups your chances significantly of their reciprocity. After you have added their link, you must contact the webmaster of their site.
Since this is almost always done by email, you want to make sure it is immediately clear that your message is not junk mail. This requires that you tell them right off the bat that you have added a link to their page on your site. A hook like this almost always insures the reader will read on.

Next, be sure to be flattering and let them know how much you appreciate their website. Ensure you emphasize that you have actually visited their site and that their site is not just a random pick. Please give them the address of your links page, and ask them to check out the link for themselves. It’s a good idea to mention that they will not only benefit from the increased traffic your website will direct their way, but you will also increase their link popularity. Briefly explain why link popularity is so essential, but do this in a sentence or two so you don’t sound like a professor! Finally, tell them you would greatly appreciate it if they would reciprocally add a link on their own links page to your website.

Go through this process with as many appropriate sites as you can find, bearing in mind the criteria of quality and non-competitiveness. After you have emailed all relevant sites, be sure to check these websites frequently to see if they have added a link to your page. Give it about a month, and if no link appears, try another charming email. Then give it another month, and if your site is still absent from their links page, it’s time to remove their link from your own links page. The only time you want to pursue a link further than this is if you believe a site is crucial to your link popularity and your business needs. Just remember to keep all your communications complimentary and cordial.

Then set up a schedule to check your ranking in search engines frequently to see if your link popularity has improved. This is not achievable in the blink of an eye. It will take some time and a good deal of work. There is no way around the labor-intensive quality of improving your link popularity, which is why search engines regard it with such importance.

Funny! When you log onto the Internet, nothing indicates that you have just entered an untamed jungle.
There are a lot of big hungry lions in the Internet jungle. They are looking for easy marks… they love newbies best of all.

By the way – make sure you have a beautiful, streamlined site, or you will never persuade anyone to link up to you.
Be prepared to keep plugging away at this process, as long as it takes until you achieve link popularity stardom!

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Evaluating Web Site Performance

Setting up a website is the first step of an Internet marketing campaign, and the success or failure of your site depends greatly on how specifically you have defined your website goals. If you don’t know what you want your site to accomplish, it will most likely fail to accomplish anything. Without goals to guide you in developing and monitoring your website, all your site will be is an online announcement that you are in business.

If you expect your site to stimulate some form of action, whether it is visitors filling out a form so a representative can contact them or purchasing a product, there are steps you can take to ensure that your website is functioning at peak efficiency. One of the first indicators of how well your site is working for you is finding out the number of visitors in a given period of time. A good baseline measurement is a month in which you haven’t been doing any unusual offline promotional activities.

However, just because the hoards of people have passed through your gates does not mean your site is successful. Usually, you want those visitors actually to do something there. It is equally important to monitor the number of visitors to your site who made a purchase. This figure is called the site conversion rate, and it is an essential element of your website’s efficacy.

To find the site conversion rate, take the number of visitors per month and figure out the percentage of them that actually acted your site is set up for. For example, if you had 2,000 hits to your site, but only 25 of them purchased your product, your site conversion rate equals 1.25%. To get this figure, take your number of visitors who made a purchase, multiply by 100, and divide by your number of visitors (25 X 100): 2000.

If your website is set-up to get visitors to fill out a form, make sure to figure out the difference between your site conversion rate and your sales conversion rate. This is because not everyone who fills out your form will actually become your customer. However, whether your site is set-up to sell a service or product or to get the visitor to fill out a form, the site conversion rate will measure your website’s success or failure whenever you make changes to the site.

You may find that you need to implement some additional marketing strategies if you find that traffic to your site is meager. Several effective methods to improve traffic flow to your website, particularly launching a search engine optimization campaign. This campaign is targeted at increasing your position in search engine results so that consumers can find your pages faster and easier. You can either research the steps you need to take to improve your search engine rankings or employ a search engine optimization company to do the work for you.
In either case, after you have improved your search engine positions, make sure you keep on top of them by regular monitoring and adjusting your efforts to maintain high positions.

Another factor to examine is how easy it is for a visitor to your website to accomplish the action the site is set-up for. For example, if your goal is for the visitor to fill out a form, is this form easily accessible, or does the visitor have to go through four levels to get to it? If it’s too difficult to get to, the customer may throw in the towel and move on to another site. Make sure your buttons are obvious and the path to your form or ordering page quickly accessible.

Finally, have a professional evaluate the copy on your website. Of course, the goal is to get your visitor to make a purchase or fill out your form. Website copy must be specifically geared to your online campaign and not just a cut and paste job from your company brochure. The right copy can make the difference between profit and loss in your online campaign.

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Protecting Your Search Engine Rankings

Your website’s ranking on a search engine is a vital element of your overall marketing campaign, and there are ways to improve your link popularity through legitimate methods.
Unfortunately, the Internet is populated by bands of dishonest webmasters seeking to improve their link popularity by faking out search engines.

The good news is that search engines have figured this out and are now on guard for “spam” pages and sites that have increased their rankings by artificial methods. When a search engine tracks down such a site, that site is demoted in ranking or completely removed from the search engine’s index.

The bad news is that some high quality, completely above-board sites are mistaken for these web page criminals. Your page may be in danger of being caught up in the “spam” net and tossed from a search engine’s index, even though you have done nothing to deserve such harsh treatment. But there are things you can do – and things you should be sure NOT to do – which will prevent this kind of misperception.

Link popularity is mostly based on the quality of sites you are linked to. Google pioneered these criteria for assigning website ranking, and virtually all search engines on the Internet now use it. There are legitimate ways to increase your link popularity, but at the same time, you must be scrupulously careful about which sites you choose to link to. Google frequently imposes penalties on sites linked to other sites solely to boost their link popularity artificially. They have actually labeled these links “bad neighborhoods.”

You can raise a toast to the fact that you cannot be penalized when a bad neighborhood link to your site penalty happens only when you are the one sending out the link to a bad neighborhood. But you must check and double-check all the links that are active on your links page to make sure you haven’t linked to a bad neighborhood.

The first thing to check out is whether the pages you have linked to have been penalized. The most direct way to do this is to download the Google toolbar at http://toolbar.google.com. You will then see that most pages are given a “Pagerank,” represented by a sliding green scale on the Google toolbar.

Do not link to any site that shows no green at all on the scale. This is especially important when the scale is completely gray. It is more than likely that these pages have been penalized. If you are linked to these pages, you may catch their penalty, and like the flu, it may be difficult to recover from the infection.

There is no need to be afraid of linking to sites whose scale shows only a tiny sliver of green on their scale.
These sites have not been penalized, and their links may grow in value and popularity. However, do make sure that you closely monitor these kinds of links to ascertain that, at some point, they do not sustain a penalty once you have linked up to them from your links page.

Another evil trick that illicit webmasters use to boost their link popularity artificially is hidden text. Search engines usually use the words on web pages as a factor in forming their rankings, which means that if the text on your page contains your keywords, you have more of an opportunity to increase your search engine ranking than a page that does not contain text inclusive of keywords.

Some webmasters have gotten around this formula by hiding their keywords in such a way so that they are invisible to any visitors to their site. For example, they have used the keywords but made them the same color as the page’s background color, such as a plethora of white keywords on a white background. You cannot see these words with the human eye – but the eye of the search engine spider can spot them easily! A spider is the program search engines use to index web pages, and when it sees these invisible words, it goes back and boosts that page’s link ranking.

Webmasters may be brilliant and sometimes devious, but search engines have figured these tricks out. As soon as a search engine perceive the use of hidden text – splat! The page is penalized.

The downside of this is that sometimes the spider is a bit overzealous and will penalize a page by mistake. For example, if your page’s background color is gray and placed gray text inside a black box, the spider will only take note of the gray text and assume you are employing hidden text. To avoid any risk of false penalty, direct your webmaster not to assign the same color to text as the page’s background color – ever!

Another potential problem that can result in a penalty is called “keyword stuffing.” It is important to have your keywords appear in the text on your page, but sometimes you can go a little overboard in your enthusiasm to please those spiders. A search engine uses “Keyphrase Density” to determine if a site is trying to boost its ranking artificially. This is the ratio of keywords to the rest of the words on the page. Search engines assign a limit to the number of times you can use a keyword before it decides you have overdone it and penalizes your site.

This ratio is quite high, so it is difficult to surpass without sounding as if you are stuttering – unless your keyword is part of your company name. If this is the case, it is easy for keyword density to soar. So, if your keyword is “renters insurance,” be sure you don’t use this phrase in every sentence. Carefully edit the text on your site so that the copy flows naturally and the keyword is not repeated incessantly. A good rule of thumb is your keyword should never appear in more than half the sentences on the page.

The final potential risk factor is known as “cloaking.” To those of you who are diligent Trekkies, this concept should be easy to understand. For the rest of you, cloaking is when the server directs a visitor to one page and a search engine spider to a different page. The page the spider sees is “cloaked” because it is invisible to regular traffic and deliberately set-up to raise the site’s search engine ranking. A cloaked page tries to feed the spider everything it needs to rocket that page’s ranking to the top of the list.

Naturally, search engines have responded to this act of deception with extreme enmity, imposing steep penalties on these sites. The problem on your end is that sometimes pages are cloaked for legitimate reasons, such as prevention against the theft of code, often referred to as “pagejacking.” This kind of shielding is unnecessary these days due to the use of “off-page” elements, such as link popularity, that cannot be stolen.

Be sure that your webmaster is aware that absolutely no cloaking is acceptable to be on the safe side. Make sure the webmaster understands that cloaking of any kind will put your website at great risk.

Just as you must be diligent in increasing your link popularity and ranking, you must be equally diligent to avoid being unfairly penalized. So be sure to monitor your site closely and avoid any appearance of artificially boosting your rankings.

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