Last time we discussed the importance of developing backlinks and some associated factors to be aware of, like anchor text, Page Rank and relevance. This time I want to provide you with an approach and a process to enable you to conduct link building in a structured way to out rank your competitors.
We will also kick start the process this time by concentrating on web directories – one of the most important sources for backlinks to your site. Next time, and in subsequent postings, I will provide you with information on the myriads of different sources for developing backlinks.
The approach I want to suggest to you is as follows:-
1. Estimating the number of links you need to outlink your major online competitors
2. Produce a list of sources for these links
3. Workout and execute a plan of activity to achieve this over a period of time.
(The time period I will suggest is 4 months – but you may wish to vary this up or down depending on the number you need and the time you have available)
Link building is of course an ongoing process so I hope you’ll continue to develop links after the four month period, however, we all need to set targets with SMART objectives so we can achieve some good short term success to fire us up. I’m sure many of you are familiar with SMART objectives (Specific; Measurable; Achievable; Realistic and Timebound.)
I have found that spending around 1.5 hours per week over a period of 4 months has a major impact for most small businesses. The other thing to be aware of is that search engines prefer a gradual, rather than sudden, build up of links. I’ll give you lots of other link sources next time so you can add to your programme after the four months.
What I have found useful as a starting point is to construct an Excell spreadsheet in which to record the sites you want links from along with other useful information. Such a document might include columns for the site/directory name; the url; the Page Rank; free/paid for; link status etc – I’m sure you can think of other useful columns also.
In fact I have one already set up which references around 300 directories. If you want a copy of this send me an email (Jan@janklin.com) put DIRECTORIES in the subject box and I’ll send it to you.
1. ESTIMATING THE NUMBER OF LINKS YOU NEED
The starting point is to select a major keyphrase you want top rankings on and search for it in Google.
The resulting list will be of course your major online competitors.
Choose the one you consider to be your nearest and most relevant competitor. It may be the guy in position one; don’t go below position five.
Next, determine how many links he has. You can use any of the tools I told you about last time or simply go to Yayoo.com and type:-
The number of his links (excluding internal links) will appear in the top right and look like this:-
Results 1 – 10 of about 120 for linkdomain:www.competitor.co.uk – 0.45 sec. (About this page)
You’ll need to store this number somewhere, ideally in your spreadsheet if you set one up. Divide it by 16 to give you the number of links per week you’ll need to generate – assuming you are working to a 4 month time plan.
2. GENERATING YOUR LIST OF DIRECTORY LINKS
As you generate this list you may wish to record them in your spreadsheet along with relevant associated information – Page Rank, How to register (look for ‘add url’, ‘Join Directory’, ‘Add Link’ or whatever the method is) and any other relevant information. Also you will need to prioritise them. This may be based on Page Rank, whether or not you can add anchor text and relevance. You could have a column of your spreadsheet to record the relative importance of the directory.
You could record them and add them later, or of course you may wish to link as you find them.
How to generate them?
1. As already mentioned I’ve got a general list of 300 or so you are welcome to.
2. Simply by doing a google search on keywords relevant to you will generate some directories. For example typing in ‘wedding’ or ‘hotels’ will generate a hit list which will include oodles of wedding and hotel directories.
3. You may wish to be more specific by searching for, for example ‘electrical engineering directories’, ‘business directories’, ‘legal directories’, ‘ecommerce directories’ etc focusing on the industry sector and business type relevant to you.
4. You can use one of the standard directories , like the Google Directory,( http://directory.google.com/) and click on “Reference” then click on “Directories” then select the “categories” most relevant to your site.
5. If you go to http://www.isedb.com/html/Web_Directories/Specialty_Directories/ you will find a directory of topic specific directories.
6. http://www.incominglinks.com/ is another good source of useful directories organized by category
The above will allow you to identify as many directories as you can manage, but one more thing before we move on.
The Yahoo directory and DMOZ are two really important ones (Page Rank of 9 and 8 respectively). Unfortunately you will have to pay around £200 to get listed in the Yahoo directory but it really is worth it. Also DMOZ (www.dmoz.org) is managed by volunteer ‘web republicans’ who give their time for free and who vet every site submitted. Because of this it can take 3-9 months to get listed but its well worth the effort. DMOZ is the largest free directory on the web and is the input source to all the major search engines including Google.
3. YOUR ACTIVITY PLAN
We’ve covered this already really. But this is just a matter of setting some time aside each week. (say 1-2 hours) to find the directories and create the link. You should easily be able to add 20-30 links per week and over a few months this will build quickly to outlink your competitors.
Be aware that every time you add a link you are not only increasing your search engine rankings but increasing your exposure to potential customers, and it really works.
Since spending a couple of months link building ASG Services (www.asgservices.co.uk) are now number one on Google for several phrases including ‘warehouse rack labels’.
Just before Christmas their delighted MD called me whilst travelling to London to pick up a £90k order. Needless to say the enquiry came from the web and that was why he called. My reward was a delightful bottle of expensive red wine. So, when you start getting large orders as a result of your search engine rankings (which you surely will if you follow my advice) you may feel compelled to demonstrate your appreciation in a similar way.
If this is the case please don’t think you need to wait ’till next Christmas since I’ve discoverd the delights of drinking all year round.
Best wishes for great success in 2006