Thursday, January 22, 2004

Website promotion

My new website is now up and running. But creating a website is just the start. To get lots of visitors it has to be promoted. Search engines are a great way of bringing free traffic to a site, but first you have to get the search engines to notice the site. Here is an article I wrote about using link exchanges to help a website's search ranking:

When search engines began using link popularity as the measure of worth of a web page, a race began amongst webmasters toexchange links with the maximum number of other websites. Many people have joined in this race, but most have blinkers on.

The first opportunity that many people miss is the power of the anchor-text which points attheir site. If a site links to yours using one of your keywords as anchor-text, that will boost your ranking for that keyword.

But the typical format of a link exchange has the company name used as the hypertext link, followed by a keyword-rich description of what the site has to offer. That seldom does a very good job of promoting the site's keywords, since business names are not often keyword oriented. The links would be so much more effective if they were made from the keywords in the description. So my first suggestion is to write link pages in a more natural style, not tying oneself to preconceived notions of what a links page should look like. This makes it much easier to incorporate keywords from the target page into the text. You can see a couple of different styles in Keep warm in winter and Oatmeal & Porridge. An additional benefit of writing very tightly themed pages like this is that they become a useful resource that others might like to link to.

One point to note in those sample pages, is that many of the links point deep within a site, straight to the page which should be best optimized for the keyword(s) in the anchor text. Notice also how the hyperlinks serve to highlight the subject of the paragraph, and tell the reader exactly what they will find if they follow the link. This style is very much like a blog. It is worth noting that by writing your own text around the links, rather than copying a suggestion from the target website, you are creating original content that search engines won't find on other sites

The second opportunity that is missed by many link exchanges is to make more than one link. In the examples quoted above, I link to several pages on one website from within the same paragraph. Another possibility for anyone with a links directory, is to include links from several directory categories. My own site caters to many niche markets, and could easily fit into wedding, gardening, cooking, woodturning and home decor categories. You can see how I have listed Sherry Gaffney's products in Home Decor, Garden Decor and Wedding Supplies. So Sherry is benefiting two fold from these links; once from getting three links, and therefore more PageRank, and again from the extra relevance scores her pages receive for the keywords I use in the anchor-text.

There are a couple of minor problems associated with making deep links. Frames based sites are one, the other is the possibility that deep pages get deleted or renamed. Otherwise there are no snags, only benefits in implementing these techniques.