In our previous post, we covered some of the basics for getting started with search engine optimization. In part two of this series we discuss the importance of website links and other SEO strategies.
One of the criteria that the search engines use to rank website pages is the number of inbound links pointing to your website from other websites. More importantly, Google looks at how many links from high-traffic websites are pointing to your pages. If a popular website features a link to your site, it shows the search engines that your site is important.
Other important incoming links are from industry-related sites. Other sites focused on the same industry that link to your site can improve your relevance with the search engines. So if other websites that discuss leadership point to your site, this will give your site a boost.
Government sites (with a .gov extension) and education sites (with a .edu extension) also have high priority with the search engines. If you’re able to get incoming links from any of these sites, it can help your ranking.
Where to Promote Your Website Link:
- Update the free online profiles provided by any trade organizations that you belong to.
- Ask colleagues and business partners to swap links with you. They can publish your link on a “Recommended Resources” or similar page on their site, and you can do the same in return.
- Publish articles and include your bio and website link. The more articles you push out across the Internet, the more links you will have pointing back to your site. The same is true for guest blog posts.
- Setup profiles on social media sites including Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.
- Update online profiles for all sites where you are a member including eBay, Amazon, Yahoo, Google, etc. Take advantage of every opportunity you can find to post your link online!
Some services offer to add lots of inbound links to your site—beware! Adding dozens of links at once can be viewed by the search engines as spam. It takes time to get your link out there, so always be on the lookout for opportunities to generate inbound links.
An anchored link is a link to a web page that is embedded in text. For example, when “Click here for more information” is an active hyperlink to a Web page, it is an anchored link.
Anchored links are a boon for SEO because they tell the search engines what content is found on the linked page. Because of this, links should incorporate keywords instead of the generic “Click here” example.
For example, a high-traffic site with a link embedded in the text saying “Meet Joe Author, author and speaker specializing in business leadership” would be an excellent anchored link.
The hardest part of this strategy is getting others to link back to your site in the first place, and then to do so with an anchored link. But because anchored links are so valuable, it’s worth your time to ask your link partners to do this whenever possible.
Anchor Pages Throughout Your Site
You can also weave anchored links throughout your own site to the different pages within your site. For example, from your home page, you could include a link that says “Find out more about Joe Author’s leadership book.”
Other Important SEO Strategies
Following are some additional strategies to incorporate into your search engine optimization plans.
One important factor in featuring the keywords that are central on your web pages is the use of headline tags. A headline is denoted on a webpage with basic html code: <h1>, <h2>, <h3>, etc. These tags not only affect the formatting of the text, but the search engines interpret headlines as being important content on a page so these should include the keywords for the page. Be sure to check with your web designer to see if your headlines are properly coded. Also note that text in larger fonts or bolded using a <strong> tag will also be noticed by the search engines.
Generally speaking, the longer your website is in existence, the better. Newer sites are not regarded as highly by Google as those that have been live for a good period of time. There’s not much you can do about this, but know that your site’s standing can improve over time.
Flash code is often used to create dynamic elements on pages (such as rotating images). Some websites have a Flash landing page where you must click to proceed to the site’s main page. Unfortunately, Flash is not search-engine friendly.
Avoid using a Flash introduction page (the main home page for your site) at all costs as it could completely block Google from viewing your site. If you use Flash within your site, use it sparingly and be sure to set alt tags that describe the text on the page. It’s also a good idea to offer an html-only version of your site to help the search engines and to ensure that web users who can’t view flash are still able to view your site.
If you feature links to other websites, periodically verify that they are working. If a business closes and the website is shut down and you have a non-functioning link on your site, your ranking can be penalized.
When you completely redesign your site and upload all of the changes at once, prepare to take a hit from Google. Unfortunately Google doesn’t like it when all of a site’s pages change, but over time you will regain your position. Also, if you do have your site redesigned, make sure you don’t break existing page links. If your pages change or are renamed, ask your web designer to set up .htaccess 301 redirects for each changed link.