* Effective Web Site Design, Development, and Graphics Since 1996 *

Links to Your Web Site: Do They Matter?

Shirley Kaiser, Editor
May 2000
Vol. 1, No. 1

Copyright © 2000. Shirley E. Kaiser, M.A. All rights reserved.

Welcome to all the new subscribers! You're all in on the first issue, and we hope to kick it off well!

Pick up tips on how to begin, build, promote, or improve your Web site. Get the latest Internet news that could impact your Web site, and answers to common questions.

This is an opt-in only newsletter, so if you're receiving this, it's because you subscribed through the SKDesigns Web site or by email. If you do wish to unsubscribe, you can unsubscribe via email or via our site.

I value and welcome your input. Send me topic suggestions, questions, comments, whatever is on your mind regarding this newsletter. Please contact me at any time.

Introduction

Do links to your Web site matter? Do they really help bring in visitors? Does it really matter with search engine rankings?

Nutshell answer: In many cases, yes.

Some of the search engines use link popularity as one ingredient in their rankings. Visitors to your Web site can and will often arrive through links from other Web sites.

First, let's consider the value of having a links page on your site, find out where you're already linked, and then we'll get into how you get Web sites to link to yours.

That's not such a daunting task when you learn a few helpful tips.

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Must you have a links page?

I do generally recommend a links page (keyword here: 'generally'). Visitors often appreciate resources to similar sites and further information. Links to other sites are one of the big foundations of the Internet and typically a very helpful feature.

Another reason for having a links page is for reciprocal linking with other Web sites. It may be easier to get other Web sites to link to you if you're linking to them. It then becomes a win-win situation.

In the long run, having a links page can be one of the many elements to help build your traffic volume. It varies in importance from site to site, though.

I've found that some clients' links pages are an extremely valuable source for them, while others are only of mild help. I've also seen that this depends a great deal on how much the client is interested in networking on the web.

Take a look at your competitors' Web sites or any other Web sites that you enjoy (and for those you don't enjoy, make note of why not, too!). See if they have a links page, and if so, how they're organized. That's another consideration, of course. Some are huge, unorganized long lists, while others are categorized, alphabetized, or both.

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Where are you linked?

Below I've listed several resources to check your link popularity. I'd suggest using these as general guides and not absolutely accurate information as you'll probably find different results from each of these.

  • Link Popularity provides a free service in which you can input your Web site URL for instant results listing Web sites linking to yours. You can also sign up to have them send you a report once a month. It's all free.
  • Webmaster Drive Link Popularity Checker provides a free service to check your Web site URL and two others at the same time.
  • Some search engines allow you to check sites linking to yours. I've listed a few below with instructions. I'll use my own Web site URL of www.skdesigns.com for the samples here.
    • Google, Go.com, AltaVista
      Type in 'link:' with your Web site URL (no space after the colon, and don't include the 'http://').
      link:www.skdesigns.com/
    • HotBot:
      Type in 'linkdomain:' this time:
      linkdomain:www.skdesigns.com/

After you've tried that, how are your results? Are you ecstatic? Disappointed? Mildly amused?

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How can you increase links to your site?

  • Visit Web sites that would be somehow related or complementary to your own Web site, and request reciprocal links.
  • Check out their links, too. Perhaps those will lead you to more interesting sites that would be potentials to link to yours.
  • If you don't already have a links webpage set up, now's a good time! If you don't have or don't want to add a links page, ask for a link to your site. In your note, mention the benefits of linking to your site.

Tip 1:
Quantity isn't always quality, including with sites linking to yours. Sites with high traffic volume will often provide more visitors clicking over to your site than sites with less traffic; however, that's NOT a solid rule. (I have small sites linking to my site that bring in just as many visitors as gigantic sites linking to mine.)

Tip 2:
If you have a hardware store, you probably won't get a link from the competing hardware store around the corner from you, but you'd have a great chance of getting a link from a Web site that sells hammers and other tools that you sell at your store.

Take a look at Monterey Lawn and Garden's Links page at http://www.montereylawngarden.com/links.html. Monterey sells products to help your garden grow. Notice they have listings in several categories, including Garden Centers, Publications, Associations, and Other Resources.

An example of a note to the hammer Web site (these names aren't real!):

Hello Mr. Nails,
Our hardware store, WayCool Hardware, sells your Nifty Hammers, which are very popular with our customers. We have Nifty Hammers Web site listed on our Links page at http://www.waycoolhardware.com/links.html.

We'd appreciate you considering a link to our Web site to let your visitors know where they can buy Nifty Hammers. Here's our Web site URL: http://www.waycoolhardware.com.

Let me know if you have any questions. I look forward to hearing from you. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Joe WayCool
Owner, WayCool Hardware Center
http://www.waycoolhardware.com/
Your way cool store!

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Some search engines utilize link popularity for ranking

Search engines differ in how they rank listings and whether or not they even list your Web site. Link popularity impacts listings with some search engines while not being a factor at all with others.

Here's the rundown:

  • Some search engines use link popularity in determining their deep crawling (Inktomi, Lycos), while some don't (AltaVista, Excite, FAST, Go, Northern Light).(1)
  • Link popularity boosts ranking at AltaVista, Excite, FAST, Google, Go, Inktomi, and Northern Light.(2)
  • Direct Hit at http://www.directhit.com, uses Web site popularity as its main ranking tool. It has also received rave reviews as providing highly accurate search results.(3)

Resources:
1Search Engine Information For Webmasters, by Danny Sullivan, SearchEngineWatch.com
2 Ibid.
3 Direct Hit in the News, 1999 quotes and links to full articles, compiled by Direct Hit.
Industry Awards and Recognition, Awards Granted to Direct Hit and Our Partners, list and links at Direct Hit.

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What now?

Follow up.

  • Check to see if the sites have listed yours. Sometimes the webmaster gets swamped or forgets, and a tactful reminder can be very helpful.
  • Thank those who've listed your site. Use this as a good opportunity for networking.

Ideally, marketing your Web site needs to be addressed on a regular basis. If you can spare 10 minutes or even an hour a week, the time spent will be more than worth it. You'll also meet some interesting people with similar interests. If you'd prefer to hire a professional, that's also one of SKDesigns' services, and I'm happy to discuss it with you further.

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What are other ways to build traffic
(and ultimately results)?

There are many ways to build traffic and ultimately results, which I'll get into in further details in upcoming newsletters. Briefly, though, I encourage networking, joining discussion lists, having a newsletter, optimizing one's Web site, and being personally and actively involved in your Web site's success.

We don't get something for nothing in this life, and with a few skills, we can do remarkable things.

There are thousands of helpful resources on the web, too. WebsiteTips.com at http://websitetips.com/ is full of tips, tutorials, and annotated resources to help you with your Web site. Check out the Search Engines section, for example. You'll learn a lot about what's needed to help your Web site results.

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That's all for this edition. I hope you've found this information helpful. If you have questions, let me know. I'd also be happy to address them in future issues! I invite and encourage your feedback.

Best wishes,

Shirley Kaiser
Owner, SKDesigns
and WebsiteTips.com

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