I’ve looked at hundreds of company websites – why are we so bad at this?
The big search engines are constantly tweaking their algorithms to eliminate spam sites and pages, and deliver quality results when users search on a term. In-bound links continue to be a major point of reference. Think of an inbound link as a vote for your site. The more votes you have, the more the search engines realize that you’re a player in the industry and you deserve to be up in the ranks. However, this can also backfire. So here’s a few key points to get links built successfully.
1) Get Links from within your own Industry
The search engines also look at the quality of the inbound link. If it comes from a reputable source within your own industry, they give it good weight. If however, it comes from outside your industry, it’s scored down. For instance, if you’re a photographer, links from other photographers are good. After all, what can be better than a vote from your own peer group. But if it comes from Bob the Discount Plumber, well, not so much.
Lets say you’re a wedding photographer. Links from other wedding related sites are good. So photographers, DJ’s, Cake bakers, reception halls and such are all likely to have similar keywords such as “wedding” appear on their sites. This is what can link you into the industry and with a number of these links Google will know how great you are.
2) Get Links from High Reputation sources
Google knows about sites. They know who’s been good or bad. And links from sites with a good reputation mean a lot. So a link from Bob’s photography is good, but a link from your local university is awesome. On the other hand, links from spammy sites can hurt you. A few years ago some companies promoted link farms as a way of boosting your placement. Today, links from such farms will get you thrown in the Google doghouse and you’ll have a tough time fighting your way back.
3) Hang out in a good On-line Neighborhood
You’re known by the company you keep. If the sites that link to you are considered spammy, then you will be considered spammy as well. So you may have to review the sites that are linking to you and see if they’re guilty of keyword stuffing and other “Black Hat” SEO practices that could hurt you.
4) Build links as you work
As you go through your day to day work routine you run into lots of link-building opportunities. For instance, as a wedding photographer when I was out shooting I’d always take extra shots of the cake, the DJ, the hall, the park, the church and so on. I was happy to give these shots to these vendors for free. Back then I wasn’t thinking of link building, I was only thinking of relationship building. How hard would it be to add link building onto to that relationship as well?
5) Non-Industry but none-the-less “Key” links to build locally.
Other local sites that have high reputation factors, are non-spammy, and easy to get are associations such as the Chamber of Commerce, Local or State PPA sites, local Charities, and so on. There are dozens of such organizations in every community and approaching them is easy. They’re always holding events and fund raisers you can contribute product to and continue to build your personal reputation as well as your site. Don’t miss things like your local Symphony orchestra, Theater company, and colleges.
So are there good and bad ways of linking?
Sure there are. Probably the best way of describing this in accurate terms comes right from Google’s Webmaster Tools Site:
Any links intended to manipulate PageRank or a site’s ranking in Google search results may be considered part of a link scheme and a violation of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. This includes any behavior that manipulates links to your site or outgoing links from your site.
The following are examples of link schemes which can negatively impact a site’s ranking in search results:
Buying or selling links that pass PageRank. This includes exchanging money for links, or posts that contain links; exchanging goods or services for links; or sending someone a “free” product in exchange for them writing about it and including a link
Excessive link exchanges (“Link to me and I’ll link to you”) or partner pages exclusively for the sake of cross-linking
Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links
Using automated programs or services to create links to your site
Additionally, creating links that weren’t editorially placed or vouched for by the site’s owner on a page, otherwise known as unnatural links, can be considered a violation of our guidelines.
The best way to exchange links today is by using your blog. Let’s say you’re a wedding photographer again and you just shot a wedding for Sally and Bob. If you write an article about the event you can mention all the other vendors as a matter of fact. Things like “Joe the DJ had the crowd on their feet for the grand entrance”. So you can link Joe the DJ to his site and it’s considered an editorial link and it’s a totally natural link by you – the site owner. You can do this for all the vendors. Shoot a few weddings and there’s a good chance you just linked to most of the key wedding vendors in your town, and in turn, they back to you.
Yes, it only works to your benefit when you get the same treatment back from them. And this my friend is people skills. Just a link exchange doesn’t work like it has in the past. Some won’t do it because they don’t know how, or are lazy, or don’t have a website and so on. But if they’re not blogging and maintaining a site regularly then they’re not going to be a major player in the business. Those who do will have good reputation scores and those are exactly the kind of links you want back to you. So if they don’t or won’t do it – forget about it. Move on with those who will.
You can see now why websites with blogs are so important. Today’s search results come more as a result of your blog activity than they do fro the regular pages. that’s why all Global Star Website themes come with blogs automatically. Check our our latest themes for photographers here.
Getting it Done
Nobody wants to. It’s a lot easier to just Facebook and feel like you’re getting things done. Maybe that’s what makes it the number one trump card in SEO strategy. Those who get it done place high and those who don’t – don’t. It really doesn’t have to be that hard. As a photographer, you run into valuable links every day you work. Offer a link exchange to quality vendors in your area. It’s really quite simple.
So good luck, and start building up your links.
Global Star Websites
Websites for Photographers