How popular is your Website? I ask this question because it can have a dramatic effect on your search engine ranking. Specifically, I am referring to your Website’s ‘link popularity’ – that is, how many quality Websites link into your Website as a resource. Every link into your Website is a vote for its quality, and search engines including Google keep track of these votes to determine ranks.
Link popularity is the most impactful, and most neglected, search engine optimization strategy. Recently, I talked to a company who learned this fact the hard way. They just completed a sizable investment in a great new Website with a great design that was optimized for a top search engine position. However, they couldn’t understand why they could not earn a ranking higher than their competitor who had a very poor Website with an old, outdated design. After reviewing their situation, I was able to determine that link popularity was the cause. Although the competitor’s Website was poorly designed, it had thousands of links into an article posted on its Website. The company I was advising had barely 100 inbound links.
So, how do you make your Website more popular? Conduct a focused link building campaign. Link building involves gaining links to your Website from other quality Websites that are frequented by your targeted visitors. The more quality inbound links you have, the more popular your Website is in the eyes of Google and other engines. And, these links can have a dramatic effect on your search ranking.
One of the best ways to attract scores of inbound links is to make your Website’s content link-worthy. Think strategically about the audiences you are trying to attract and the content that interests them. Then load your Website with useful, educational content that changes regularly.
Consider starting an educational blog to help with these efforts and position you as a leader in your industry. Following this best practice can turn your Website into a link magnet.
Are you making the most of the links you already have? Do you know how many inbound links you have? If your answer is no to either of these questions, this is the best place to start your link building efforts.
Take advantage of advanced search tools offered by each of the search engines to find pages that already link to you. Then, make a list of sites that should have links to you but don’t. This may include trade associations, customers, vendors, suppliers, online magazines and other business partners or industry resources. Make a thoughtful, personalized request to the owner of each of these sites and respectfully ask them to add your link.
Online directories are a great resource for building inbound links. Focus first on important directories within your industry – those offered by trade associations and online publications for your industry are a great place to start. Then, investigate opportunities with paid directories like ThomasNet, GlobalSpec, IQS Directory and others. Finally, get your site listed in topical directories like DMOZ, Business.com and Yahoo Directory.
Online public relations are a great way to build scores of relevant inbound links over time. If you do not produce press releases regularly, then start! Be sure to craft them leveraging your most important keyword phrases. Then, distribute these press releases using an online press release distribution service like PRWeb and watch as they get picked up by online publications and blogs.
In addition, begin writing educational articles and submit them to industry publications. Don’t forget to include an active link back to your Website in your byline or profile.
Perform a search on Google for your most important keywords. Anyone in the top ten listings is your competitor, whether you know them or not. Chances are they each have great inbound links to achieve that ranking. Don’t worry, that’s great news for you.
Once again, take advantage of Google’s advanced search tools to find pages that are linking into each of these competitors. This is a great way to determine what sites you should be targeting for your link building efforts.
Almost as important as following the best practices for link building, you must also avoid the following worst practices:
Take full advantage of search engine marketing opportunities with our 15 Essential Questions to Boost your Rank on Google.
For more search engine marketing best practices, check out our post 7 Steps to Search Engine Marketing Success for B2B Companies.
For a full step-by-step guide, take a look at our essential guide to B2B Search Engine Marketing.
If you need help with your B2B online marketing strategy, contact us. We’ll be happy to assist you with all of your online marketing needs.