How to get referrals
and gain credibility on the Web
Ever wondered how to get more traffic to your site without spending a lot of money? Ever wondered how to make your Website easier to find on the Web? Though there are many things that contribute to a quality, well-positioned Website, link popularity - done properly - will establish your business as trustworthy on the Internet and bring more referrals.
Benefits of link popularity
Every time you place a link on your site to another Website, you are referring business to them. It is likely that your customers will also check out the businesses that you sponsor on your site and perhaps do business with them, as well. Visitors to your site who believe your business is credible will also be referral candidates for those websites on your resources page. Conversely, a link to your site is a referral from another business to yours.
When a business places a link on their Website to yours, they are recommending your business as a credible source of information, services or products to their customers and visitors. On the Web, there is no greater compliment than to be on the receiving end of traffic referred from a quality business Website. This is the way links to your site help build your credibility.
Because links on the Web establish referrals and credibility, search engines rank sites with good link popularity higher than sites with lower link popularity. When a search engine reviews your Website, it is looking for all kinds of things that go into its algorithm for ranking. One of these factors is the number and quality of links from other Websites to your site. Basically, it considers a link to your site as a vote. So the more votes a site has, the higher a site can rank in the search engines. Obviously, there is more to achieving top rankings than just getting a lot of links, but it is a significant factor that can move a site's ranking from the top 20 to the top 10 for a particular keyword in major search engines. In some cases, link popularity can be the key that puts a site in the coveted first place slot.
How to build links to your site
You may be asking, "So how do I get more quality links to my Website?" First, get listed in good quality directories such as Google, Yahoo!, Open Directory, About.com, GoGuides.org, and Gimpsy.com. Many of these directories are free but some charge a fee. There may be specific portals for your industry that will list your site; check Galaxy.com for some of these. If you sell products on your site, it may be worth it to be listed in an online mall such as DealTime.com, Yahoo Stores or MSN eshops. If you are more focused on local business, check out GwinnettNetwork.com (duh!), GoGwinnett.com, and AccessAtlanta.com.
After you are listed in some directories, build a resources page on your site and begin swapping links with companies you already work with and others that complement what you do. For example, it makes sense for a carpeting and rugs retailer to swap links with a quality carpet cleaning service. Use your common sense when selecting businesses to recommend; you'll want to choose companies that offer services and products your customers are likely to need.
Another great way to increase your link popularity is to publish informative articles on your site and submit them to appropriate online publications. Many of these online publications will either link directly to the article on your site - increasing your link popularity -- or post the entire article on their site with your contact information. A good place to post articles is FreeSticky.com.
Finally if you are serious about your link building campaign, set up an affiliate/referral program. You may have seen a small banner ad on a site saying "Buy this book at Amazon.com." When you click on it, Amazon.com pays that affiliate a commission on every sale made from referrals to their site. This is the essence of an affiliate/referral program. Businesses that want to make sales without all the hassles will sign up for your affiliate program and place a link from their Website to yours. Of course you have to pay them a commission on all sales from their Website, but your link popularity will take off. And that, my friend, is what we're talking about here!
Things to avoid
Search engines are becoming more sophisticated, changing their ranking algorithms frequently and weeding out the sites that use "illegal" means to gain high rankings. To make the most of your site's good qualities, it's best to avoid:
- Tricks to get you noticed. When a search engine encounters one of these practices, that site will be penalized -- and possibly even banned -- from the search engine.
- Link farms and Free for All pages. Link farms and Free For All links pages are nothing more than long lists of Websites; they do very little for a site's link popularity and a site listed on one will eventually be penalized on the search engines.
The rule of thumb when building links is add the link to your site only if it makes good business sense.
In conclusion, a link-building campaign is a process that should be ongoing. As your link popularity on the Web grows, so will your business.