Okay, this is a huge topic and since you’re not interested in a dissertation right now, let’s just cover one aspect of linking at a time.  In this installment, we’ll cover inbound links since they are probably the most important part of the linking topic.

Link popularity is a popular metric used to track how many sites are linking to your site.  You can just visit linkpopularity.com to see how many sites are linking to your site.  I usually trust Yahoo’s links the most because you can show only links coming into the site from other domains and you can show all of the links to every page of your site, rather than just links coming into your home page.

If you check you link popularity and see that you have just a handfull of links coming into your site, then you have a lot of work to do.   Why?

Because Google sees your link popularity as the best way for them to determine if you have a good site or not.  Good sites rank well on Google and come up toward the top of the search results.  Bad sites rank lower.  Here’s how it works…

If you can convince hundreds of other sites to link to your site, then you must have something of value of else they wouldn’t want to link to you.  In order to get lots of people to naturally link to your site, you have to develop great content.  It’s important to have a link magnet.  You know, something that attracts links.   Something that is so great that thousands of other sites want to link to your site.  It can be something funny, like the Jib Jab political cartoons or it can be something ingenious like a downloadable toolbar or piece of software like the Adobe Acrobat reader.   It doesn’t matter what it is as long as people want to link to it.

If you can’t come up with something as amazing as the Acrobat Reader, then you’ll probably just have to do what most other webmasters do.  They trade links.   It’s called a reciprocal link.   You know.  You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.   You give me a link and I’ll give you a link.   It works pretty nicely, although not as well as just getting tons of inbound links without having to give outbound links in return.

If you’re thinking it sounds like a lot of work to contact thousands of other sites and trade links, you’re right.  It is.   And that’s why so many companies contact us for help with their linking strategy.  Unless you enjoy emailing dozens of people every day like a cold calling telemarketer, you’ll probably grow tired of it.

But unfortunately, it’s a necessary evil.  You simply have to build tons of links into your site.  Without them Google won’t place your site anywhere near the top of their listings.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about anchor text and why the wrong anchor text can spell disaster for your link building efforts.  Use the wrong text and you might as well have not have even wasted the time.

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