Posted on | June 17, 2011 | 1 Comment
I am tired of so many new and old SEOs talk about linking, the importance of it and how your efforts will be wasted if you don’t embrace it. I like linking and believe it provides a good way to build credibility on the search engines, especially for new sites, but I put it last on my list. That’s right I said last. I may be old school but I have found I can cut back my dependency (time) on the number/quality of incoming links if I follow some basic principles.
Site Content I can go on and on about the content of the site but here are a few tips to get you started:
- Know your audience spend time figuring out who your online audience really is and how they look for your services. How? I like to use Word Tracker and Aaron Wall’s keyword suggestion tool but there are other tools you may like better, Keyword Discovery and Wordze are both highly recommended. Once you find your audience it is worth spending a little money on Adwords to find out which keywords give you the best conversion rate and target those particular phrases.
- Know your competition – Once you know how people are looking for your goods/services spend some time finding out what the competition is doing. We have some custom tools to help us out with this but there are some free online tools that will give you the keyword density for each highly ranked page. Once you have the densities and number of words on highly ranked pages I suggest you go to Yahoo! Site Explorer and figure out how many links they have coming back to their site. The fewer links they have the less important being competitive on content becomes. You can also use SEO Quake for this research.
- Be Competitive - After you have this information in hand you will have a general idea as to what you need to shoot for to be competitive on the SERPS. Spending more time on content will allow you the room to spend less time on building links.
Site Structure/On Page Optimization – having a well structured site is a basic fundamental of good overall usability and accessibility with new standards. Take a look at SEOMoz’s breakdown (an oldie but still relevant)
- CSS If your site is still using tables you are getting close to being an entire decade behind the curve. If you’re not a designer and don’t plan on learning CSS you can find plenty of services who will handle this task for you. If you do plan on learning CSS you may want to start at W3Schools.
- Title tags Make sure your title tags support the text on the page and that the text on the page is focused on a specific topic or set of keyword phrases. If you sell widgets don’t talk about your awesome new building on your widgets page. Remember your title tag is going to show up in the SERPs, so this is your chance to sell against your competition.
- Keywords in the URL Change the URL of the page to contain keywords that represent what the page is about. You will be better off putting a “-” between the words than any other characters example: blue-hand-widgets.html.
- Heading Tags Make sure to use heading tags (H1, H2, H3) to separate your thoughts. Using heading tags tell search engines what the most important items are on your page.
- Keywords in links Your links should contain keywords and it is ALWAYS a good idea to use your own link juice to pass value from your internal pages. If you leverage your internal linking structure correctly you could drastically cut back your dependency on incoming links for internal pages, leaving you more time to focus on your homepage.
Hosting Atmosphere – make sure your hosting atmosphere is equipped to handle 301 redirects and make sure they aren’t hosting link farms or other sites that could potentially damage your ranking.
- Duplicate Content – Make sure you are using 301 Redirects from your www to your non-www or vice versa and if you are using multiple domains. You need to choose one main domain and have the others redirect. This helps ensure you won’t have duplicate content penalties. You may also want to look into CopyScape or other services that will check for duplicate content.
- Bad Neighbors make sure you are not receiving penalties because of other people on your IP or IP block. This one is a little more complicated but should be considered and you can use Bad-Neighborhood.com for free.
Finally Linking now that you have created a well rounded site focus on getting high quality links.
- Directories I will usually do a few directories just because they are the low hanging fruit. Submit Eaze has a great product that helps you automate the submission of your site to both free and paid directories.
- Contact your Partners too often people forget they have affiliates and partners they can use a resources. Contact those people and ask them to place a link to your site. Also remember to give them the HTML to make it easier for them to implement.
- Research your competitors Find out what links are coming back to your competitors sites and find out why they are linking to your competitors. Once you have this list you can start creating a plan to get listed on the same sites and start building your link credibility. You can use Yahoo! Site Explorer but I personally like using Link Harvester
These are a few tips that can help you to have a better site and get better rankings without spending tons of money or time building links. If you focus on the quality/content of your site you will begin to see more links and better rankings naturally. The link centric approach only leads to spending more time and resources to keep up without a well designed site.
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