Picture a spider web with lines connecting and crossing one another. That's the metaphor for the World Wide Web on the Internet.
The key ingredient to the Web are the lines - the links between sites. The search engines send out their spiders to crawl these lines. Spiders are actually computer programs that follow the links from one page to another, from one site to another. But like a live spider, they cannot go if there is not a connection. That's why the links are so important.
In recent years, Google invented the concept of Page Rank. Although more than 100 factors enter into PR ratings, links account for a percentage of a site's ratings. And its not just *any* link. The more links you have from "quality" sites with higher PR, the "better" your site is considered to be.
High PR sites are visited more often by the search engine spiders. That means that all of their links are visited more often and therefore appear quickly, with higher ranking in the search engines. The quest for links from high PR sites spawned a new industry of paid link providers to ensure your site was being "crawled" more frequently by the spiders.
But what if you don't want to pay for a link? There are three major ways you can build links: - Link Exchanges - Articles - Link Directories
Traditionally we have relied upon "link exchanges" where another web owner offers to give you a link to your site in exchange for your giving him a link from your site.
There are two problems with this approach. First it's very time-consuming. You have to find the sites you want to link to, send an email, and hope that the other website owner reciprocates. Only 10-40% of them even respond! Then you must track whether or not the links are still in place - and adjust your links accordingly.
The second problem with link exchanges is that many site owners only want to exchange links with established sites. That puts newbies at a distinct disadvantage. It's the Catch-22 - we'll exchange links with you when you have enough incoming links that you no longer need more links! It takes links to get links.
While link exchanges still work and are appropriate, particularly with sites that are closely related to yours, they have been modified along the way.
The second approach to getting links is articles. Site owners are more likely to publish good content with your link in the Resource Box than to just put up a link. It is the same amount of work for them - but provides more value to their visitors.
In recent months we've seen a merging of articles with link exchanges. Article exchanges are website owners sending each other articles, instead of just links. A more powerful form of this direct exchange is an article "ring" where 5-10 site owners exchange articles on a round robin basis, rather than just one-to-one. That way you're getting links from 10 different sites, rather than just one other one. This tactic is getting good rankings with the search engines.
In the history of links, we've seen several techniques come and go. FFA (Free For All) pages were very popular a few years ago. Essentially a FFA page is just a long list of links, so you can see why the search engines don't find them useful and neither do most people. They are now considered worthless for most purposes.
The latest variation are link directories. They offer several advantages. Instead of just providing a link, they include a description and the ability to specify which words are to be hyperlinked. The hyperlinked keyword phrase tells the search engine spiders where to categorize your page, so it's an important distinction to make in your directory entries.
Link Directories are categorized links and descriptions, so it makes it easier for someone to find an appropriate link.
One of the most important aspect of link directories is that they provide a new website an opportunity to get incoming links rapidly. By registering with 50 link directories you can have 50 incoming links to your site in a week! That makes you much more attractive to potential link exchange partners - from whom you'll receive even more links from your efforts.
Which tactic is most likely to get you into the search engines and build your rankings in the results? A combination of all of these techniques. New sites will start with Link Directories, then offer articles and finally ask for direct links from related sites. You'll soon open your web stats and say "Along came a spider - or two or three!"
About The Author
Dr. Jeanette Cates is an Internet Strategist who works with independent professionals who are ready to turn their knowledge and their websites into gold. Dr. Cates offers weekly tips, tricks and techniques weekly at http://www.OnlineSuccessNews.com.