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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 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.

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