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Incoming Links

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Incoming Links Optimizing Tips

While many on site factors can effect your rankings in the search engines, there are also offsite factors which you should pay attention to in order to boost your rankings. Offsite factors relate to your incoming links. A large part of the importance of incoming links is in determining a site's link popularity. Link popularity refers to the number and quality of incoming links.

Incoming links are links from other websites to your site. They are also known as inbound links (ibl's). All of the major search engines analyze incoming links as part of their algorithms. Google places perhaps the greatest emphasis on them. Now, you may not feel that you can influence offsite factors, but I'll show you that you can. A sound link building program will reward your site with higher rankings across all of the search engines.

Link Types

The most important links to your site will be one way links from websites that are thematically similar to yours. One way links simply means that a site will link to you and you don't link back. A site which is thematically similar will be about a similar or complementary topic to your site. One way links are often harder to gain than reciprocal links. Reciprocal links are links where a site links to you and you link back. They are not as valuable as one way links in helping your website move up in the rankings but are nonetheless helpful. Similarly, in some algorithms, links from sites unrelated to your own are currently, or may soon be, less helpful in raising your site higher in the search engine rankings.

Anchor Text

Ideally, you should seek out text links in HTML form. This allows for easy spidering by the search engines and offers anchor text for them to use for rankings.

          <a href="blue.html">Blue Flying Widgets</a>

Anchor text is the text which a visitor clicks on to move from one website to another. In the above it is "Blue Flying Widgets". Anchor text is important to all search engines but of critical importance to Google. You'll want to try to get other sites to use anchor text which corresponds to the keywords you've selected for each page when linking to that page. For instance, if your keyword for a certain page is "blue flying widget" you'll want to ask other sites to link to that page using the anchor text "blue flying widget". Even though the link with anchor text "blue flying widget" is on a page of another site, it's often more important to the page it points to for ranking purposes.


You should try to avoid having a site link to you using an image. Search engines can follow these links fine. However, your site will not benefit from anchor text which is associated with a text link. In those cases, some weight is given to the Alt attribute as a means to interpret anchor text. If an image must be used, see if you can add your keywords to the alt text.

          <img src="location.jpg" alt="blue flying widget" / >

Deep Linking

You'll notice that much of the linking which occurs around the web is to a home page. When a link is to an interior page of a website, it is known as a deep link. Although, harder to acquire, deep links are highly desirable. Deep links show the search engines that other sites value the content of other page's within your website. They also allow you opportunities to use the keywords for which you've optimized interior pages, to be used as anchor text. This is helpful in getting those pages to rank higher in the engines.


PageRank(PR) is Google's measure of a web page's link popularity on a scale of 1 to 10. It is a part of how Google ranks web pages. You gain PR whenever a web page links to you. The amount you gain is dependent on a couple of factors. At its simplest, you gain more pagerank from a web page which has high pagerank and a low number of outgoing links. Now, that doesn't mean you should only seek links from high PR pages. In some cases, lower PageRank pages can give you more PR. For instance, a PR 4 page can give you more PageRank than a PR 7 page. That can happen because the PR 4 page may have very few outgoing links other than yours, while the PR 7 page may have 100's of outbound links. The PR any page passes is divided evenly between all of the outgoing links on that page, with a small amount retained by the page itself.

Links Page

You'll want to add a page to your website where you'll add the outgoing links you gain from link swaps. Outgoing links don't have to go on this page. In fact, outgoing links to business or sector leaders can be scattered on pages throughout your site. When adding links to other websites you always have to be mindful of the credibility of those sites. The search engines will penalize you if you link to what they call a "bad neighborhood". While it takes experience to identify a bad neighborhood, it essentially is spam. You'll want to make sure to link to your links page from your home page.

Acquiring Links

There are a number of ways to acquire incoming links. Perhaps the simplest is to submit your site to directories. There are thousands of directories around the web. Some require a reciprocal link so are not as valuable. Others don't link directly to your site. Instead, they link to you through a script. These don't help your site in the search engine rankings. Unless such directories send visitors your way, they're a waste of your time. You can tell if a directory is using a direct link by pausing your pointer over the anchor text. If you can see your website address in the status bar at the bottom of the browser window, it's a direct link.
• Reciprocal Links
Another fairly simple method to gain incoming links, although time consuming, is to contact other websites and ask to exchange links. These links don't have high value but can still help your site in the rankings. You can find these sites by searching on your keywords. Go through the top 200 sites, which are not direct competitors, and send them an email requesting a link. You can also find potential link partners by searching using "add website", "add url", "submit website", "submit a site" or "submit url" etc. and your keywords. These searches will bring up related sites which are looking for link partners.
• One Way Links
Similar to exchanging links you can create lists of related sites and contact them to see if they will create a one way link to your site. You'll probably have to offer something exceptional or unique on your site to gain these types of valuable links. Great content or tools attract such links and are also useful in gaining unsolicited links. Vendors, business partners and clients are also good sources of one way links.
• Press Releases
Another tool to establish incoming links is to send out press releases. There are multiple release distribution services on the web. Some are even free. When these services distribute your release it goes to hundreds or thousands of online sources which may list it along with a link to your site.
• Articles
You can also gain incoming links by writing articles on your sites subject matter. You'll include a link back to your site in the article. The articles is then submitted to other websites which would naturally have an interest in publishing on that topic. Articles are a win-win as they give the site on which they're published good content for the user and your site an incoming link. They can also be syndicated to multiple publishing sources to compound the effect
• Purchased Links
Yet another way to gain links is by purchasing links on other websites or in directories. Purchased links have the potential of getting very expensive. However, to rank for some competitive keywords you may have to consider paying for links.

In addition to the sound strategies listed above, there are many unethical ones which are employed by spammers to manipulate a web site's link popularity or anchor text. In essence, they all boil down to creating massive amounts of unnatural links. This is sometimes accomplished by adding links to guestbooks, forums, blogs and wikis. There's nothing intrinsically wrong with adding links to those types of pages. But spammers do so only with the intent of gaining a link, often thousands of such links. If this sounds like it can involve a lot of time, your right. That's why the most sophisticated spammers create programs that automate the process. Spammers will also create large networks of interlinked sites with the sole purpose of boosting link popularity and thereby rankings. When the search engines discover these tactics, sites are often completely removed from the rankings.

Link building is a time intensive process which is critical to getting your site to rank high in the search engines. A sound strategy of acquiring quality links from reputable sites lets the search engines know that other sites feel your site is worthy of a link. Those sites are essentially voting for your site. Keeping in mind the points above and employing some of the link acquisition tactics you can get hundreds if not thousands of links to your site. These can be the difference between a top 10 ranking and ranking 600.