As an online business owner, it is critical for short and long term success that you understand that links to your website drive your rankings in the search engines. However, some links are more important than others and each have a purpose. Today, it’s all about winning Google’s trust. “Trust rank” and why Google thinks this is important will have to wait for another day but for now let’s get to the foundation of all your online relationships, including your website relationship with Google. This is a must read…
It’s a safe bet to say most business websites don’t have a lot of credible link juice behind them, they may have some links but not from the type of sources who can “vouch” for the site algorithmically and as a business. Build your business and link trust by joining a:
(Collectively referred to as Associations)
Many marketing experts feel trust is the basis of motivation online- eliminate this negative barrier by displaying brands, seals, and marks visitors may be familiar with (trust elements). Join the relevant associations in your industry (and local areas), display the badges each organization offers, and be sure to link to your site from theirs.
If your business isn’t tied to a bricks and mortar operation, no worries — many local associations now accept an online business registered to do business in their City, State, province, or territory.
Consider joining a virtual organization created for your industry. Search by niche + “virtual chamber of commerce” to find them. (my example is for US based operations only).
Build a presence on Facebook and other relevant social media sites hosting your demographic market. Don’t depend solely on Facbook, use a tool like GoToWeb2.0 to find topically/geographically relevant social media sites to join.
Post an announcement to your Facebook page and Tweet each time you join an Association, include a link to your listing in the membership directory. Ask your followers to retweet (RT) it.
Build out your profiles (many social media sites allow links in your profile as well as your business pages) and be sure to list all the Associations you belong to. While you’re on the various social media sites, look to see if the Associations you’re a member of have a presence; friend/join if they do. The idea here is to associate your name with as many credible industry Associations on as many social media platforms as you can, and build links while you’re doing it.
When you say “directory submissions” most people think of submission services or those long lists of general directories out there. Not me, I submit DMOZ, BOTW, Yahoo, JoeAnt and then refocus my efforts on mining DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory for submission opportunities in niche directories, associations and the media. This can really work big time in some markets.
Both Yahoo! and DMOZ offer a “Directory” category under most of their major topics. For example, on DMOZ, if you’re in the boating industry you’d go to:
Recreation : Outdoors : Hunting
Once you got there, you’d find 12 potential niche directories, 34 chats and forums, 65 clubs and associations to add your link to. In the Yahoo Directory, if you’re looking for niche finance directories, you ‘d go through the 43 listed here and add your site. (The Yahoo! Directory UK is closed but the US version lists a fair number of directories from the UK).
Another way to find niche directories is by using Classified Ad sites. I know this sounds a little old school for some of us but many classifieds host a forum and/or directory as a way to make their sites “sticky” and keep visitors coming back. Classifieds are always listed under the Shopping category by type on DMOZ, using our boat example here’s what you’d find:
Shopping: Classifieds : Watercraft
Of the 51 classified sites listed here, about a 1/3 of them host a directory and/or forum. The Yahoo! Directory has a slightly different set-up but in most cases, offers more listings to browse through.
Earlier, we talked about using membership into associations, the Chamber of Commerce, business bureaus, etc. (Associations) as credibility indicators and ways to build links for your business. Depending on your niche, it can be hard to find a list of groups operating in your area. Weddles Association Directory is a good place to start, but they only list national associations and not local organizations, clubs, chambers and special interest groups.
DMOZ and Yahoo! Directory are excellent resources for this although each uses a different term to display “Association” results.
DMOZ – Health : Organizations : Dentistry : Associations
Yahoo! – Business and Economy > Business to Business > Transportation > Maritime > Organizations
DMOZ excels in this particular segment, in addition to the 82 Associations listed for the boating community, they also offer 783 additional resources under sub-categories such as Sailing Clubs (510) and Sailing Associations (187).
Not all of these clubs and organizations require fees to join, many are free, welcome new members and allow links in your profile. If you do end up paying for a number of memberships, keep in mind membership into an association is an expense of doing business so check with your CPA about using it as a tax deduction.
One last thing about potential link benefits from Associations. Whether free or paid, when you join one, you become part of an elite group of people with similar interests. Ask about extending promotional offers to the membership and opt-in anyone who participates.
Down the road, you can ask for a link and use the fact you both belong to the same club as an ice-breaker and point of commonality. And finally…
Both DMOZ and Yahoo! list media sources by category, DMOZ lumps magazines and ezines together and calls them “News and Media” while Yahoo! breaks listings between Publications and Trade Magazines.
Most online media sources have a directory or resource center that accepts submissions, you just have to spend time visiting each site to find the location. The same goes for any on- and offline newspaper, most host forums and directories, which you can submit URL’s to.
Keep in mind, this segment is geared on using media sources to submit links to, not ways to work with journalists. We’ll cover that later 🙂 Don’t limit yourself by using only DMOZ and Yahoo!, check out the resources BOTW, Joe Ant, and The Virtual Library have to offer.
Today, we focused on securing credible, trusted links which help establish our business in a given niche and build trusted link popularity to our pages. By walking through these resouces and making informed decisions about your online relationships, you will help your business’ trust rank and improve your overall search engine rankings…and in most cases substantially.
Be sure to always use a keyword when possible to link to your website, but in most cases you must use the name of your website or business. This is why it’s critically important to have good keywords in your domain/business name too.