Part 2 - Do Not Ever Link to a Site Without Doing This First!

Writing Links

In the first part of this article we learned some techniques to build a solid potential link partner list for your website. Those sites aren't any good to you if you don't use a strategy for writing the textual content of those links. Yes. I mean those few little words that are underlined in blue. In the right order they give the key to your website door to the world. In the wrong order, they don't budge the cylinders in the lock.

Number of links takes second place to quality of links. The words you choose, varying them for each targeted link site, and incorporating some tried and true direct mail standard tactics will make your links more popular in the search engines, which is our ultimate goal. So lets get started!

As we said earlier, links are a crucial part of attaining high search rankings. The key to writing good "link content" uses the same tactics for writing all good web content. Namely, don't write for the search engines. Write for your readers and target audience. After you do that, then go back and tweak the little details to optimize for the engines. Why? The search companies attempt to give results for human readers, and because a number one search engine position is worthless if the description of your site is the most boring thing anyone has ever read.

You have humans that are examining your site to see if they want to link to you. Even if you pay for links someone has to make the decision that you're worthy of being on their site. And further, you'll never sell your product or service or attain any readership. Let's take a simple step-by-step approach and make sure your links are lively, catchy, searchable and gushing to be clicked.

Pretend you're the owner of a pumpkin company website. You sell all things made from pumpkins.

Step 1- Review Your Keyword List

Those are the words and phrases that you want to rank highly with in the search engines. They are the starting point for your link text. Note: "link text" is the clickable part of the link, the underlined blue type. Let's take some keywords and apply a few tactics to them to develop a good link.

A few keywords might be:

  • pumpkin retailer
  • pumpkin festival
  • pumpkin plant
  • pumpkin holiday
  • pumpkin festival
  • Step 2- Create variations on those keywords. Think of phrases that someone might enter into a search engine. Using that thought as the core, build outward by elaborating and specifying. Ask yourself "what type of ____?" to help you expand. For example, take the few keywords above and make them a bit more specific to:

  • pumpkin pie recipe
  • pumpkin bread recipe
  • cooking pumpkin seed
  • pumpkin patch
  • how to grow pumpkin
  • planting pumpkin seed
  • pumpkin carving design
  • carve Halloween pumpkin
  • pumpkin carving pattern
  • pumpkin costume
  • pumpkin centerpiece
  • Note: When coming up with additional keyword phrases (for use within your page elements and link) try this tool. www.inventory.overture.com/d/searchinventory/ suggestion/ is part of Overture sponsored listings (now Yahoo) that will tell you how many times a phrase was searched in their engines on the web. Target the phrases with the most hits.

    Step 3 Word Varieties

    Your link should contain enough words so that when read out of context it still makes sense. Not so many words that it becomes blurred when a reader scans through a page.

    Take the list you just made vary your keyword links using all of those keywords. Search engines raise an eyebrow at seeing "pumpkin recipe" on 50 sites with the exact same phrase all pointing back to you. It doesn't see natural. Mixing up your link text with "pumpkin pie recipie","pumpkin bread recipe", and "cooking pumpkin seeds" and the rest of your list keeps you well diversified without danger of spamming. And your keywords are more focused and targeted which gives you a better chance of being ranked higher.

    Step 4 Incorporating Direct Mail Tactics

    Now we have the words that will make up our link text. We're almost finished. We need to give people some motivation to click.

    The simplest of direct mail programs or incentive marketing campaigns all have a solid "call to action." We need one here too. Why should a reader go to your site? What's in it for them? They've got better things to do.

    So many websites use the phrases "Click here," "Learn more," or "More info". There's a definite boundary between keeping things simple and clean on a web page and just copping out. When I see those phrases on a link I think the writer didn't have time to get me excited about their product so I don't have time to go look.

    It doesn't take much to write a simple call to action. For example: Instead of "pumpkin pie recipe," say "Grandma's pumpkin pie recipe and all things pumpkin at The Orange Pumpkin." Now your reader knows the name of your business (which will also be indexed), and thinks if it's made by Grandma it's probably good? I think I'll have a look.

    Step 5 Put it all together

    Take your keyword phrase and surrounding text and create your link. The coded form looks like this.

    Grandma's pumpkin pie recipe and all things pumpkin at The Orange Pumpkin.

    Every single link doesn't have to be different, but you should have quite a variety if you follow these steps for all your keywords.

    Don't forget to use those keywords within your page too!!

    Step 6 Final Thoughts

    Stay away from link farms and free for all link sites.

    List in as many Directories as you can, especially ones that are of the same nature as your site.

    Try to get one-way links. You might be able to buy some from someone fairly cheaply. If you have to get a reciprocal link, stick to sites that are similar in theme to yours. They don't have to be identical, but in the case of The Orange Pumpkin Company, a link from a car dealer is a waste of time?unless that car dealer happens to have a collection of the world's greatest pumpkin recipes on their site. If that's the case, then try to get a link on the page with the recipes.

    Even though you're goal is to rank high in the searches, write for the end user. Then go back and fine-tune things for an optimized search engine friendly page.

    Good luck and happy linking!

    John Krycek is the owner and creative director of theMouseworks.ca. Read more articles on the insights and secrets of website design and development and internet marketing in easy, non-technical, up front English!

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