I wasn’t shocked to learn that, as of December 2010, there were around 266 million websites and over 230 million Internet users in the United States, according to World Bank’s World Development Indicators.
According to the most recent U.S. Census Bureau’s E-Stats report, e-commerce grew faster than total economic activity in three of the four major economic sectors, including manufacturers, merchant wholesalers, and retailers. Therefore, turning a website into an income source is a common practice for web developers and website owners, and competition to appear on Google’s first page is continuously increasing.
According to Dr. Ralph F. Wilson, e-commerce consultant of Web Marketing Today, linking strategies, which increases the number of incoming links to your website (“link popularity”) from other highly relevant web pages, will enhance your web ranking. Follow these seven -tips to help your customers find you online every time:
1. Submit your site to key directories. A link from a directory will help your ranking — and get you traffic. A directory is not a search engine. Rather, it is a hierarchical listing of sites sorted according to category and subcategory. A great directory is Yahoo! Directory, but if you don’t get listed right away, don’t be impatient and resubmit or you’ll go to the end of the queue.
2. Submit your site to trade organizations and specialized directories. Some directories focus on particular industries, such as education or finance. You probably belong to several trade associations that feature member directories. Ask for a link. Even if you have to pay something for a link from the organization, it may help boost your PageRank (“weight” assigned to your site by Google).
3. Request reciprocal links. Find websites in your general niche and request a reciprocal link to your site (especially to your free service, if you offer one). Create a page where you put links to other sites, however make sure you don’t send people out the back door as fast as you bring them in the front door.
4. Write articles for others to use in websites and newsletters. You can dramatically increase your visibility when you write articles in your area of expertise and distribute them to editors as free content for their e-newsletters or websites. Just ask that a link to your website and a one-line description of what you offer be included with the article. This is an effective “viral” approach that can produce hundreds of links to your site over time.
5. Issue news releases. Find newsworthy events and send news releases to “traditional” (print, TV, radio) and “new” (blogs) media in your industry. The links to your site in online news databases may remain for several months (or longer) and will improve traffic to your site and increase link popularity over an extended period of time. Use an online news release service such as PR Web. Placing your website URL in online copies of your press release may increase link popularity temporarily.
7. Develop a free service. It’s boring to invite people to come to your site to learn only about your business. It’s quite another to invite them to, say, use the free kitchen remodeling calculator available exclusively on your site. Make no mistake, it’s expensive in time and energy to develop free resources, but it is very rewarding in increased traffic to your site — and a motivation to link to the site! Make sure your free service is closely related to what you are selling so the visitors you attract will be good prospects for your business. Give visitors multiple opportunities and links to cross over to the sales portion of your site.
While most business websites serve as a hub for existing store-front businesses, there is an increase in websites that are businesses in their own right; so the competition to rank high on a search engine is enhanced.
Along with linking strategies, there are other great tools that can help increase your online presence, such as the Vizibility SearchMe button for Google — it will get people to the correct search results about your business, products, and services in one click.
Adrian Maynard is Vizibility’s director of marketing. He has more than 20 years of experience in marketing, many of those years in the technology industry. Find Adrian in Google at vizibility.com/adrian.