Web U: Ten Steps to More Link Juice

Everyone knows that natural links can help boost your rankings in search engine results pages (SERPs). But short of becoming a stealth spammer or getting your name barred from Google and other search engines, what can you do to finesse authoritative links that can maximize your "link juice"? Here are 10 ways to do it:

>One. Be original and expert, do your research, and be current. Your site's content should be accurate, informative, and easy for searchers to navigate. If possible, offer cool tools and unique services.

>Two. Incorporate RSS and other data sources from your industry. Take advantage of online tutorials to learn how to leverage content syndication opportunities.

>Three. Is there an online tool in your industry? Invest the time and money to get it on your site. Even better, offer the tool to others to put on their sites with a link back to yours. Offer a "cut and paste" solution for the code, and rotate the link text you want in the tagline for each download. (Remember MarketLeap's link analysis tool?)

>Four. Is there a popular blog for your industry? Get involved or start your own.

>Five. Participate in online forums. They're a great way to get to know the people whose links you want. Don't initiate the dialogue by asking for a link. Instead, ask for help with a question, and when you get a response, be sure to express gratitude and appreciation. Once you've established such a relationship, people will be more willing to help you by providing a link.

>Six. Write articles for syndication, like this one. Have your byline link back to you. Often, syndication sites will list your bio and include a link to your site. There are thousands of article repositories out there. Try to find reputable sites where your article is likely to be read. This provides you with the link, as well as an opportunity to build your reputation.

>Seven. Government sites can be another source of relevant content and "link juice." While by their nature government sites are viewed as authoritative, they, like any government publication, are not copyright-protected. Much of the content on government Web sites is not indexed in search engines. By using that content, you can make it indexable. If you find a government site that has external links, see what sites it links to, build one yourself that's better, and ask the government site for a link.

>Eight. Manage your internal linking. If you have a large site, you automatically have an internal linking advantage. While internal links aren't as valuable as external ones, if you have thousands of pages, they still add up. One under-utilized tool for internal linking is a good bread crumb trail. It leverages your internal linking, as well as providing a nice usability function for your visitors.

>Nine. Donate to a charity. Quite often charities put their donor lists online with links to donor Web sites. Not only do you get a link but you're helping a good cause as well.

>Ten. Don't bulk e-mail link requests! Even if you aren't hit with legal action for spamming (which you could be), there are other potential consequences you won't want to face. Search engines could blacklist your domain, your Internet Service Provider could dump you, and your servers could be shut down. The short-term gains are not worth the long-term pain.

In short, if you're going to ask for a link, be very specific and outline the benefits for the Webmaster you want to link to you. Rather than sending bulk e-mail, send a personal e-mail to the Webmaster, providing information about your site and the potential benefits it can offer visitors from his site. If your site includes a link to another site (or even better, an article or other content touting that site), let the Webmaster know about it. Let him use your link however he wants to; suggesting anchor text makes you look like a spammer.

After all, you're not just asking for a link -- you're seeking to build a mutually beneficial relationship.

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