Why Should You Get Links?
Some two years or so ago, a Web-watching site estimated that 10,000 new sites are being added to the Web everyday. With the billion or so sites already in existence, that makes quite a crowd.
It is difficult for your site to get noticed amongst this crowd. One way to overcome this difficulty is to get to the top of search results pages at the popular search engines like Google, Yahoo and MSN.
There was a time when you could get to the top of search results pages (SERPs to use jargon) simply by placing “keywords” at critical places on your Web pages. (For the uninitiated, keywords are the words that information searchers usually use to look for specific kinds of information. Keywords differ from topic to topic.)
Those days are long gone. Numerous competing sites dealing with the same topic began to optimize for the same keywords. With hundreds of optimized pages for every topic, your site could be on Page 15 or 20 of the SERPs. And searchers dont go beyond two or three pages.
So another option was needed to stand out among the crowd. That option was link building.
Search engines look at the quality and quantity of links that point to Web sites to decide which seems to be a better site. They then rank the sites on the basis of this assessment.
Your site could now hope to get to the top or SERPs if you could get more number of QUALITY links pointing to your site than your competitors. Quality link building is a more challenging task than optimizing your Web pages and so fewer people take up that task, including (hopefully) most of your competitors.
What Are Quality Links?
Search engines look at links as indirect indicators. They consider that if one site takes the trouble to include a link pointing to another site, the latter must contain worthwhile information.
A link to your site is a quality link if it is relevant and comes from a good source. A link to a business site from a philosophy site is not likely to be considered relevant. A reciprocal free-for-all link farm is not likely to be considered a good source. Search engines, particularly Google, typically ignore such links. Your Web site would not get any boost in ranking from such links.
The problem is aggravated by the fact that the most relevant links are often those from your competitors. However, competitors are not likely to help you by providing links!
Reciprocal links are also not considered high-quality links because they are artificial devices and not indicators of quality.
The best way to get high quality links is to create content that is authoritative and informative or highly entertaining. Other sites would then point out your site to their own visitors.
Another option is to publish articles of similar high quality that would brand you as an expert, and include a link to your site under the author byline.
Easiest, however, is to get listed in Web directories. Directories are sites where other sites are classified and indexed under appropriate categories. A good directory with a large number of listings (of informative sites) would itself be considered a good site (by search engines). And if the link to your site comes from an appropriate category, it would also be considered relevant. Thus the link would meet the quality criteria.
How Do You Get Listed in Directories?
Unlike search engines, directories do not crawl the Web looking for sites. Instead, they review the sites that are submitted to them by humans or automated submission software.
Automated software typically submits a large volume of junk sites with no valuable content. This irritates directory editors, who have to review the submitted sites. Hence directories prefer sites submitted manually by humans.
So, your site would stand a better chance of being reviewed quicker if you arrange to submit your site by hand. Go to each directory, understand their rules and criteria and then submit your site accordingly.
This is a tiresome and monotonous task. However, it is the best way to get quality links pointing to your site. And a large number of quality, in-pointing links could boost your position in the SERPs. And that could mean a much higher traffic of interested visitors to your site (provided you manage to reach at least page 2 or 3 of the SERPs).
Selecting Directories to Submit To
All directories are not equal. Some are good sources of information, regarded highly by search engines. Others are just free lists of all-comers, full of junk sites. The latter are ignored by search engines and information seekers alike.
Some directories require payment to review your site. Others would accept both paid and free submissions, though the latter are likely to be reviewed after considerable delay.
So you would need to check the quality of the directory and also decide whether to pay for a quicker review.
We discuss the directory selection process in more detail in a separate article.