Tag Archives: Search Engine Marketing

7 Types of Backlinks For Better Search Ranking

In the internet before Google, Yahoo was the leading search engine. To be more precise, Yahoo was a web directory. That’s an important distinction, because it meant ranking high in Yahoo (back then) required a single editor’s effort. Yahoo editors approved or overrode recommendations for how sites might be categorized in their directory. This was kludgy, imprecise, and definitely not scalable for a fast-expanding web.

Google changed everything. Their search spiders scour the web and look at how peer sites link back to yours. It’s overly simplified, but for the most part, here is the equation if you want high Google placement for your site:

Number of Peer Site Backlinks multipied by The Authority of Those Referring Sites equals The Magnitude of Your Chances of Ranking High in Search Engine Results

In today’s Google-dominated search environment, backlinks are king.

7 ways to boost backlinks to your site

Most search engines have followed Google’s lead, and to at least some extent take into account the quantity and quality of sites linking back to you. Here are seven types of backlinks for you to pursue:

  1. Vendor Sites — If you use specialized supplies in the course of your business (anything from custom mailing labels to MRI devices), talk to your vendor about linking back to your site. And don’t hesitate to suggest specific keywords to use when pointing back to you (more on that at the bottom of this post).
  2. Organization Sites — Any site from the Chamber of Commerce to the Better Business Bureau can be a referring site for you. Make sure you’re listed there and listed properly. These geographically-specific sites are especially important for businesses that are in some why land-locked in their marketing. These local sites help search engines rank you in regional searches. (Example: Last time I checked, this site ranks #2 in Google for “milwaukee marketing technology analytics”)
  3. Community or Non-profit Sites — Are you involved in any charitable work, or do you support local or national causes? Talk to their sites’ managers about being acknowledged with a link. Also, it’s good marketing to tell the world about the ways your business is helping to make the world a better place! It certainly can’t hurt to provide a page of your own, called something like “XYZ Gives Back,” where you show a little gratitude and link back to them.
  4. Press Release Services — Services such as PRWeb help spread news about your site throughout the web. If these electronic press releases are properly worded (again, think about key words people search on!), they can do much to send you both business and boost your search rankings.
  5. Blogging and Twitter Strategies — Done poorly, backlinks from blogs and micro-blogs (such as Twitter) can come back and bite you. But done sincerely, you can share information about your business to audiences who care. And many of these types of backlinks carry considerable search engine mojo. Check out this famous four-minute video for a primer on how an interconnected web of social links helps make for a better online experience.
  6. Reputable Directory Listings — There are a few reputable directories out there you should consider submitting your site to. Yahoo stills has its directory. The DMOZ Open Directory Project is also worth trying (although its editors are volunteers, and I’m unsure how successful new entrants have been in getting listed). You definitely can get into The Best of the Web, however, and should. Industry-specific directories can also turn out to be a good source for reputable backlinks.
  7. Comments on Social Sites — Join the social network conversation, and be sure to include your web address in your comments (comment forms all have a field you can fill out for this purpuse). Be helpful and courteous. Do not self-promote. Follow this advice and you will find that your site will receive some direct clicks from the comments. A handful of curious readers will inevitably investigate the source behind the contribution. But more importantly, some search engines appear to consider these types of backlinks in their algorithm.

One Last Backlink Tip

I mentioned in #1 above to not hesitate to suggest that backlinks be hyperlinks with the key words you care most about. Instead of having the link mention your business name, consider having it mention the line of products you’re known for — in the language your prospects typically use when they are searching for a source. But be careful about spreading the same phrase to all backlink sources.

The reason is search engines are vigilant about sniffing out marketers trying to game their system. One way is looking for identically-worded backlinks … especially those that spring up nearly at the same time. These can flag your backlinks as potentially coming from a “link farm.”

That said, all of the tips above are “white hat methods” of helping people find what you have to sell. In a way, these backlinks are nothing more than good, electronic word-of-mouth advertising.

Give your site a marketing checkup with Web Grader

No system for measuring the marketing power of a site is perfect, but one of the more comprehensive I’ve come across lately is WebSiteGrader.com.

This system takes your web address, looks over the site, and reports back on features such as the following:

  • How optimized your site is for search engines
  • How well you’re placed with major directories
  • Your currrent Google Pagerank and Alexa rank
  • The quantity of inbound links
  • Much more!

Web Site GraderIt even evaluates the reading level of the site, to make sure you’re not turning people off with your language. As a point of reference, this blog got a Secondary / High School rating.

The end of the report is a single score out of 100 possible points. Is spite of some obvious gaffes, such as no listing in DMOZ, this site got a 94. That means out of a sampling of 100 randomly selected sites, DigitalSolid’s marketing power is better than 93 of them. As of today, the process is free. Give it a try. In five minutes you’ll have a thorough web site marketing “check-up,” and concise recommendations on how to improve your score. Do you have any other favorite marketing power evaluation systems? Let me know.

Why the debate about in-house SEM vs outsourced work clouds an important issue

This morning, MediaPost featured “The Great (And Completely Ridiculous) ‘In-house vs. Outsourced SEM’ Debate,” by Dave Pasternack (registration to MediaPost is required). The piece begins with Pasternack asserting that in his 10 years in the business, “I’ve never, not once, seen a search campaign created by an in-house team outperform one crafted by a competent SEM [search engine marketing] agency.”

I trust that what he says is his experience, although at least one other in the comments reports differing results. Also in the comments, David Berkowitz found some of Dave’s arguments to be as “spurious” as the premise itself (Hark! Do I hear you composing your own post on the subject, David?).

I’m letting that discussion continue without adding to the din.

But my opinion is that the debate itself — in-house versus outsourced SEM — clouds the true secret to optimum ROI: Working together, in-house and agency pros are more likely to get a campaign that really hits one out of the park.

No one understands the subject domain as well as those who live and breathe it. And successful SEM requires content that uses this knowledge. Customer-focused internal SEM pros can add a level of richness to an SEM campaign that no outside agency can match.

SEM Is More Similar Than Different Across Industries

So what’s the problem with most “pure-play” internal SEM work? It’s a question of experience. When someone is handling multiple campaigns for many different types of clients, the similarities and synergies become apparent. Knowledge has a way of “cross-pollinating” between campaigns and clients. That’s a huge advantage. Also, this level of activity forces a heightened level of process that is just too difficult to match in an internal campaign.

As with most black-and-white debates, this one distracts from the benefits of a middle ground.

In every industry, and in every business category, there are those brands that lead the way in SEM. For the majority of these market leaders, I would be shocked if there wasn’t a smart blend of internal and outsourced efforts and expertise at work.

Both sides of the desk have something superior to bring to an SEM campaign. I suggest we SEM agencies work harder to remember this, and to promote this important truth.