Phew... I feel like I just ran a marathon! Our new issue is now up and live, and it’s WOW’s Anniversary Issue: Freshly Squeezed Juice. WOW! turns one-years-old. Go take a gander (remember to refresh your browser), then come back here when you get a chance.
Last week we talked about optimizing your blog, and now we’re going to talk about a little something I call “link juice”. This whole topic started because one of our WOW! flash fiction contest winners, Danette Haworth wanted to learn how to get her blogs and website to show up in the search engines. Not too long after the post, she wrote in and said, “Did you have a magic wand? Both of my blogs are turning up now!” Well, I wish I did have a magic wand, but I don’t, so if anyone finds one on ebay or something, let me know! LOL.
There’s a simple reason why Danette’s blogs started showing up. It could be because her waiting period was over to get into the search engines (that 4 to 6 week thing I talked about), but more likely it had something to do with link juice. Let’s start at the very beginning.
Let’s say that you have a website with your own domain name. The first thing I recommend you do (and this is important), is get an Alexa toolbar installed on your browser.
Check Yourself With Alexa
Alexa is the web’s global positioning system. It keeps track of all the sites in the world and how they rank in traffic. The lower the number, the better your ranking. For instance, Yahoo! is ranked “1” – and yup, that’s in the whole world, folks.
Most websites start out ranking around 7 million. Some web appraisal sites even say that an Alexa ranking of 2 million is considered good. Now remember that you can only check your traffic ranking if you have your own domain name. If you have a blog that ends in blogspot.com then your ranking will be “15”. That’s because the ranking counts all blogger’s rankings in one group, like Yahoo! So, to find out the true traffic ranking of your own site, you need your own domain name (.com, .net, .org, .info, .tv, etc.)
Not only can you check your own traffic ranking, you can check everybody else’s ranking on the web. Each site you surf to will show you how that website ranks globally. Once you install the toolbar, there will be a little colored bar at the bottom with your number on it, and now they even have a graph. Check it out, it only takes a couple seconds to install!
Get the Alexa Toolbar, it’s free. Install it on your browser of choice:
For Internet Explorer go to: http://www.alexa.com/site/download?show=ie
For Firefox get “Sparky” here: http://www.alexa.com/site/download?qterm=
Now, go check your website!
If you look at ours http://wow-womenonwriting.com you’ll see we’re almost under 100,000. And we’re ranked 17,000 in the US. That’s extremely good, considering that we started at 7 million, and we’ve only been online for a year now. Most popular sites that have been around for over ten years still don’t have the traffic ranking we have... so we must be doing something right!
Give Your Website Some PR (Page Rank)
There’s also a Google PR (page rank) toolbar, which doesn’t have anything to do with traffic, but it does have to do with link popularity. It measures the amount of incoming links that point to your website, or that link to your website, usually with a text link. Page Rank is measured out of 10, so you can have anywhere from 0/10 to 10/10. Websites start with 0, then move up from there. Anything above a 2 is considered pretty good.
You can go to Google and get the tool bar for free and install it. Once you do this you’ll be more aware of how popular each page of your website is, and you’ll see if it’s being linked to.
How Links Can Help or Hurt Your Traffic Rank
If you really want to succeed in the search engines, you should focus on incoming links. Like I said before, simply submitting your website to search engines can take weeks or months even, but if you have other relevant and well-trafficked sites link to yours, you’ll be up in no time. That’s why you need the Alexa toolbar (you already installed it right? *wink) so you can see which sites have more or less traffic than you. If you get a well-trafficked site to link to yours... bonus! Your traffic and page rank probably just went up.
Google explains that, "The best way to ensure Google finds your site, is for your pages to be linked from lots of pages on other sites. Google's robots jump from page to page on the Web via hyperlinks, so the more sites that link to you, the more likely it is that we'll find you quickly."
How do you do that?
Inbound links (sites that link to yours)
Outbound links (sites you link to)
Find sites that are relevant to yours, and ask them to link to you. We get this all the time, but you have to be careful, too many outbound links to sites that are less trafficked than yours could be harmful. Plus, most sites will want to do a link exchange, also called reciprocal links... and while this used to be great, recent SEO trends show that Google is no longer counting these kinds of links. But no one really knows for sure—so when exchanging links, find well-established sites, the more similar (relevant) content to yours, the better.
Also, avoid link farms, or places that tout they’ll bring you traffic for a price. This can be damaging to your PR rank and to your overall statistics. If you consider the ‘build it and they will come’ method, you’ll do much better naturally. Write interesting content and other sites will link to you.
Make a wish list of sites that you’d love to see link to yours. Contact them and ask them nicely if they’d place a link on their site—but before you do this, make sure you already have a link and a URL you can point them to, this is polite.
When asking for a link:
- Make sure you already have a link on your site to theirs before you ask. Provide them with a URL, so they are less likely to say no.
- Provide your own link copy (like ad copy), and make sure you give them the exact link to use, even if you have to create it in html. Remember to use a hyperlink with a key word in it, like I explained last week. For instance, if linking to our contest page, use WOW! Women On Writing Fall 2007 Essay Contest, instead of http://wow-womenonwriting.com/contest.php.
- Give them all the info they need to make it easier for them, including reference to the page that your link would fit best.
- Make sure they have a link page!
Angela’s Secret Tip:
If you can get a site that ends in an .edu or .gov, you’ve just scored some major link juice! If you’ve ever purchased a domain name, you know that you can’t buy an .edu or .gov URL, that’s because these sites are only given to libraries and schools, and governmental websites. It’s not an easy task to do, but if a school decides to link to your site, that’s super!
Well, that does it for this week ladies! I know this is a little more in depth than most of you would like to dive into, but if you’re serious about SEO and traffic, then these tips will help you get started.
Have a great Labor Day weekend, and happy blogging!