Recently, a buddy of mine got caught up in a link-buying frenzy and purchased numerous text link ads in an effort to improve his search engine rankings and PageRank score. Instead, Google dumped him into the cobwebbed netherworld of search results somewhere beyond page 13. When he wrote to ask why, Google responded:
"Certain actions such as buying or selling links to increase a site's PageRank value can result in penalization. Please review our quality guidelines at http://www.google.com/webmasters/guidelines.html for more information. If you identify problems with your website and make the changes necessary to comply with these guidelines, please do not hesitate to contact us."
My pal learned a hard lesson that many webmasters are having to face these days... that indiscriminately gobbling up paid link ads in vehicles that aren't relevant to your site and that don't relate to the interests of your target market is no longer acceptable to Google.
Its guidelines now warn webmasters, "Don't participate in link schemes designed to increase your site's ranking or PageRank," and they encourage us to ask ourselves, "Does this help my users? Would I do this if search engines didn't exist?"
Google's message seems to be, "Just pretend we aren't here."
Leaving Big Bad Backward Links Behind
Its easy to get caught up in the need-top-rankings-now craze, like my friend did. But Google is letting us know loud and clear that bad linking schemes created only to artificially boost link popularity can no longer be used with impunity.
Does that mean that link popularity is a dead issue? Far from it. Search engines still place a lot of weight on incoming links to your site and it's just as important as ever. Only now it's not about numbers, it's about quality and relevance.
The search engines, particularly Google, want to see links on sites that are related to ours - links that are specifically aimed at attracting qualified traffic. And they're trying to convince us to promote our businesses the same way we did before the advent of the engines - by investing in marketing strategies that our ideal prospects are bound to see and act upon.
The New Normal
When it comes to linking strategies, the new normal is "How do I increase the amount of targeted, eager-to-buy traffic coming to my webpage?" not "How do I trick the engines into giving me a higher PageRank?"
With that in mind, here are some safe ways to naturally increase your link popularity and website traffic:
Create an attractive, content-rich website that people want to link to. Fresh, interesting information is key to gaining unsolicited links.
Do you have business partners in a related field? Contact their webmaster to set up a mutually beneficial link partnership.
Research business directories that serve your industry. Inquire about their target audience, number of visitors, cost for text ads, etc. An ad on a highly-ranked page in a relevant directory can do wonders for your placement and deliver qualified customers to you.
Allow your visitors to link to you by creating a "link to us" page complete with HTML code and images they can easily grab.
These strategies can not only improve your link popularity, but if done right will increase your targeted website traffic. And at the end of the day, that is what the game is all about... attracting prospects who need your product or service without risking the wrath of Google!
Michael Pedone http://www.eTrafficJams.com a professional search engine optimization company specializing in getting targeted, eager-to-buy traffic to your site! Want to improve your site's optimization? Call 877-785-9977 for a free SEO analysis