Tuesday, August 01, 2006

How I Increased Website Traffic Ten-Fold with Quality Backlinks

Having a goodly number of quality backlinks is one of the most important factors in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) that result in high Search Engine Results Pages.

It’s not enough to just have a high number of (incoming) backlinks. Rather, it is the quantity and quality of backlinks that allows your site to rank better in the search engines than your competition.

Simply, a backlink could be considered as a quality link if

1. it links to your website with the keyword(s) or keyphrase(s) for which you are trying to optimize,

2. the theme of the backlinking website is the same as (or similar to) your site.

There are a few free tools that will help you in determining the quality of existing and potential backlinks to your website (search on ‘free seo backlink tools’).

But, how do you really know that a link can be considered a quality link before agreeing to exchanging links with a particular web site? After all, the whole point of exchanging a link with another site is to benefit from the ranking of that web site.

It is therefore important that, before the link exchange is affected, that we investigate as to whether exchanging links with another site is to our advantage.

Google’s Index

The first and most important factor to check is if the site is listed in Google’s index. This can be determined by entering “http://www.sitename.com” in the Google search box. If there is no result displayed, then stop there and affect no link exchange.

To save your valuable time, do the same for the URL of the page which the site owner says will display your backlink. No Google index means that the spider will not find your backlink.

View the Home Page

The second step is to examine these three items:

the linking site’s home page,
the site’s HTML and Google sitemaps,
the site’s backlink page.

The home page will determine the suitability of the linking site thematically; that is, does the site’s content match (or closely match) that of your own. With the site’s home page displayed in your browser window, using your mouse, right-click and select “View Source”. Observe the site’s tags. Does the text match your expectations of site relevancy?

Next, open a www.google.com screen in your browser and enter the sitename without the http://www descriptor. For example, without the descriptor, http://www.msn.com would be entered as msn.com.

Press enter and Google will present something akin to

MSN.com Microsoft's newly renamed portal entry. Features personalization, channels of content sites like Carpoint... www.msn.com/

Google can show you the following information for this URL:

* Show Google's cache of msn.com
* Find web pages that are similar to msn.com
* Find web pages that link to msn.com
* Find web pages from the site msn.com
* Find web pages that contain the term "msn.com".

Clicking on the hyperlink in this line

* Show Google's cache of msn.com

will display the Google cache for the site. If there is no cache, stop there, do not affect the link, why link to a site that Google is not visiting?

Clicking on the hyperlink in this line

* Find web pages that are similar to msn.com

will display the Google “related” tag, listing the pages that are similar, the more the better,

Clicking on the hyperlink in this line

* Find web pages that link to msn.com

displays how many backlinks Google report for the site, once again the more the better.

Clicking on the hyperlink in this line

* Find web pages from the site msn.com

and

* Find web pages that contain the term "msn.com".

displays the actual number of pages within the site and the number of pages that contain the website name, the more the better.

HTML Sitemap

If you are satisfied with the results of steps one and two, it is then instructive to view the site’s HTML sitemap as well as the site’s Google sitemap.

The HTML sitemap is simply another web page in the site but is important as it compiles and displays every page in the sites, making it easy for the search engines to “spider” the site (and find your link).

Google Sitemap

The Google sitemap (usually sitemap.xml) is a specialized form of the above and complies with the Google sitemap specifications shown at www.google.com/webmasters/sitemaps

While many say that the above is unnecessary, this author argues that since Google has gone to much expense to provide and maintain the function, to ignore such is at one’s own peril.

To view the Google sitemap, enter the site’s home page URL, then append “/sitemap.xml” on the end of the address. Caveat, the address may generate a “file not found” error. The site may have a Google sitemap but store it under a different file name than that suggested by Google.

Google Page Rank

Note that I have made no mention of Google Page Rank. It is the opinion of this author that if you have done most or all of the above that you have qualified the potential effectiveness of the link, just as does Google with it’s Page Rank algorithm.

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