SEO Links

Links are votes.

From the early days of spiders simply following links from site to site, to Alta Vista and their 'Link Popularity' system, to today and Google's infamous 'Page Rank' system, external links from other sites to yours have always been considered important, and have affected a site's search engine position.

Popular sites quickly realized that they could sell links from their sites, and link exchange systems became popular about 2002. Suddenly search engine placement could be manipulated by those who could afford to pay, and the public was losing confidence in the integrity of search engine results. Alta Vista used to be the number one search engine. They stopped spidering the web, and now subscribe to the Open Directory Project at dmoz.org. Google implemented their 'undesireable neighborhoods' and will penalize a site for participating in paid link exchanges. Google requires that you include rel="nofollow" as an attribute in every paid link to avoid penalty.

Affiliate links also became popular a number of years ago. In most cases the target site will maintain a list of links to the sites with their links. Google considers these to be paid links. The idea that you can earn money by having someone do business with someone else was quite attractive, and many sites were set up as hubs doing nothing but providing affiliate links. Expectations were not met, and most have abandoned these programs. The single exception is Googles own AdSense system, which has been remarkably successful. Many high-volume sites actually are able to pay for their hosting costs, and sometimes more, through AdSense. If, however, yours is not a high-volume site, the negative impact of the ads will probably be significant, no matter how desirable your content might be. Perhaps the most significant problem with placing links on your site is the fact that users are taken away from you. Including a target="_blank" attribute will force the new site to open in a new window, leaving the user in place on your site in the original. Remember to let your users know the links will open in a new window, so they can expect the pop-up.

The best external links come from your peers, and from those who have found your site to be of value to them. Developing a network of such links can be painstaking and time-consuming. Communication usually must be direct, involving making the request by email, by phone or in person. It may not seem efficient, but it is a necessary effort. If you are a member of an association, mutual interest might make it easier to accomplish. Look for sites which match yours in intent, and which place well for the key words you are looking for. Offer reciprocal links to establish a neighborhood of friends. Links will be mutually beneficial, so do not be afraid to talk to other web masters.

Make sure that you have your site listed in as many directories as possible. Directories are classified, so choose the classification carefully. Check to see where similar sites have been classified, and apply to have your site included in the same section.

Participate in the various web communities. You might just find that viral marketing helps you incredibly. Mention your site on FaceBook, MySpace and any others you can find. Become a member, and set up your buddy list. Let them all know about your site. If they start to let others know, and so on, ... well you get the picture. However, never lose sight of the fact that content is king. If you do not present a quality site, the word of mouth will not happen. You have to give them a reason to talk about you.

If your site is active, set up an RSS feed to syndicate your content. As the feed is registered with various aggregators, your content might be picked up and included in other web sites. Each feed item they pick up will include a link back to your site and the original article.

SEO Links - Open Directory Project

The Open Directory Project at dmoz.org is the largest directory of web sites on the internet. How are they different? In their own words from their FAQ:

Other directories such as Yahoo! and LookSmart are developed and managed by small paid staffs. The ODP was founded on the premise that directories with small staffs can not scale to the growth of the Web, and still maintain a quality, current directory.

The ODP is developed and managed by a constantly growing community of net-citizens who are experts in their areas of interest. Given this vast community of subject expertise and the global nature of the directory, there is always someone working on the directory: processing submissions, resolving dead links, culling out the bad and keeping only quality information, and discovering new topics to add.

Unlike small paid staffs, ODP editors are Web searchers creating a directory for other Web searches. This kind of philanthropy and passion creates a directory that is directly relevant to what people are looking for on the Web, and how they search the Web for information.

The Open Directory Project is used by about 150 other directories in the English language alone, and spans numerous other languages.

Submission of your site to the Open Directory Project will involve selection of a category and description of your site. Each directory you submit to will require a description. Do not cut and paste. Make each description unique, and keep it within the guidelines for the directory.

Click here to begin your submission to the Open Directory Project. (Link will open in a new window.)

SEO Links - Yahoo Directory

The Yahoo Directory is the original web site directory. They now use the Open Directory Project.

Registration with Yahoo Directory Submit will cost you $250(US) per year ($600 if you have adult content). They conveniently exclude the instructions for free submission from their home page. To submit a site for free, go to their directory and choose your category using the left sidebar. When you have found the appropriate classification for your site, and click on Suggest a site in the top left corner. If the category is open for free submission, you will see a Suggest via Standard Consideration button. If not, you will only be given the option to use the paid submission.

The Yahoo Canada Directory works much the same way, but is a little more open.

SEO Links - AboutUs

AboutUs.org, is not technically a directory, but rather a wiki about web sites. You can create an account on the site, and add or edit information about your own sites, or any other sites you wish to comment on. It is a very powerful tool for relating sites to keywords, and every site you want to make more visible should be listed. First, check to see if it is already listed, then make sure the information is complete. Pay particular attention to the free-tagging list of topics. This should match your desired keywords.

Remember to record your login information, and to return often to maintain your listing. Because this site is dynamic, it should be constantly monitored.

SEO Links - Alexa

Alexa.com is unique on the web as an accumulator of web site ranking information from the widespread use of the Alexa browser toolbar. They have been collecting information and analyzing web site usage since 1996, and a site's Alexa rating is an indication of the strength of its user base.

As a site owner, you are able to edit your own site information by going to the Alexa Site Edit page and entering the URL of your home page. Alexa will add your site if it is not already listed, and will show you the information it has about your site. You may then update/correct anything they have, and they will send you a confirmation email. (You MUST have an email address based in the domain name you have just edited.)

When you receive the email, click on the confirmation link, and the changes you made will be committed.

Site widgets are available to incorporate Alexa information into your web site if you wish. Technically Alexa is a search engine, not a directory, but links from Alexa search pages will count heavily toward your rating in other search engines.

SEO Links - General Directories

Don't let them kid you. Most of these directories are vying for attention just like you are. The paid submissions promising rapid inclusion will get you listed more quickly. However, if you have a quality site, it is in their best interest to include you if for no other reason than to improve the quality of their own content.

We test all of the links on these pages to ensure that they will not be flagged by Google as 'Bad Neighborhood'. Wherever possible, avoid reciprocal links. Be patient, and wait for your site to be listed. If you must give a reciprocal link, include the rel='nofollow' in the link as soon as it has been confirmed by the Directory.

Backlinks are very important, but these directories are only the starting point. If you use a 'cut and paste' method to submit the information, search engines will flag the directory entries as duplicate content, and the effectiveness of your hard work will be destroyed. Take the time to make each description unique. A few unique Directory entries will be much more effective that 100 identical entries. Remember to include your desired keywords in your descriptions.

SEO Links - Standard Directories

The directories listed here require you to navigate to the category that best suits your site.

This is actually good, as you will be able to see what other sites are in that category, and make the decision if the category best suits your site. If so, you will find an Add Your Site link somewhere to use.

SEO Links - Standard Directories with Login

These are standard directories with a difference.

Each site either permits, or requires, you to create a user account on the site to submit or to maintain your listings. Remember to record login information along with the sites you list. This type of documentation is absolutely necessary if you are ever to be able to re-enter and make changes.

SEO Links - Single Step Submissions

Each of the following links takes you directly to the submission page. You can choose your classification during the submission process. This allows for a more efficient submission process to multiple directories, but be very careful choosing a category. If they do not think your site belongs in the requested category, most reserve the right to block any submissions from you in the future.

Read the submission guidelines carefully before you submit your site.

SEO Links - Deep Links Directories

Directories with deep links allow you to feature a section of your site, rather than just the home page, in the directory. If you are looking to feature a small portion as a showcase item, list the deep links with some of these directories.

Just the links to the home pages are listed here in most cases. Find the appropriate category, and click on Suggest Listing to submit. Be careful here, as most of these sites carry lots of Google ads, and you have to be sure you are not clicking on one of the AdSense links. A lot of these directories are small, but take the time to add your site.

SEO Links - Canadian Directories

A number of niche directories cater to a single country.

Canadian niche directories include:

CanLinks
A general directory, with a Canadian emphasis. Add your paid listing here.
LocalSites
A strictly Canadian directory, with the option of adding a site to a Province, or at National scope. Add your free listing here.
Web World Index
A Canadian Directory accepting international listings. Based in British Columbia. Find your category, and click on Submit Free at the bottom. Looks suspiciously like Open Directory and may be based in dmoz.org.

SEO Links - Niche Directories

A number of niche-market directories are also available.

You are probably familiar with directories that cater to your own business niche.

2.0 Websites
A directory of sites using Web 2.0 technology. Good niche for viral marketing efforts.
Automotive Directory
Automotive Directory bringing you the best in websites about the automobile and automotive industry.
Agricultural Directory
Directory strictly limited to agricultural sites. Mainly British, but significant international content.
UK Content Only

SEO Links - Social Networking

So called 'Social Networking' is a valuable source of backlinks once you have an established user base. Setting the site up to take advantage of from the beginning means that the networking will grow with the site.

Users must have a reason to come to your site, and to return. They must also have a reason to refer their own community to the site. Content and function are paramount. Make sure that your content is desirable to your users. When your users bookmark your site, the backlinks are counted by the search engines and improve your overall rating.

Get the process started by signing up with the various services and creating your own bookmarks. As always, record your login information as part of the system documentation for your site. We have provided links to the major bookmarking sites for your use.

SEO Links - RSS Syndication

RSS Syndication is a way to get your site noticed, particularly if you have frequent new content which users might like to follow. Many sites use RSS feed to keep fresh content on their sites (For example, our own Weather page), and each feed item will carry a link back to your site. If your content is popular, the number of links back to your site will improve your search engine rating.

If you have user-contributed content, allow their content to be syndicated as well. Submitting their feed to various aggregators is a way to get your site noticed. Some of the top aggregators are:

To aggregate content from this site, simply click on the little orange icon in the footer, and follow the instructions for subscription in your RSS Aggregator.