So now you have your website but how is anyone ever going to find it?
Essentially, the key to getting traffic will be in searches coming from Google and the other search engines. How search engines choose which sites to list in the top ten, however, depends on almighty algorithms that make God’s mysterious ways look plain banal.
The essence of Google’s approach (and its runaway success) is that Sergey Brin and Larry Page came up with the revolutionary idea that the internet was like a big democracy and a link to a website was like a vote. Only not all votes were equal. If a link came from a really important site like the BBC, then it was worth a lot more than a link from http://www.joebloggs.com
Not only that but if the incoming link came from a site on the same or similar subject then that also counted more. So a link to your ice cream site from Italianices.com was worth much more than a link from rubberwidgets.com – get the idea?
So how do you get links to your site?
It’s a science and an art. Basically be prepared to beg, borrow and steal. Well, beg anyway.
The theory is that if you have great content and are an essential resource – let’s say that you have the only nude photos of Jennifer Lopez on the net, then people will link to your pages automatically. It’s a bit of a catch 22 though because no one will link to your pages until they can find them in Google and they’ll never find your site in Google until you have some inbound links.
You can start by getting a few reciprocal links. This is a kind of ‘you link to my back and I’ll link to yours’ deal. Some people swear by this and spend their entire time on the net trading links with other sites. Oh if it were only so easy. The truth is that Google understands very well that such links are just a trade and tends to disregard them.
A few reciprocal links will help you get started though – build up your site to a respectable standard first and then write to some friendly webmasters for a link exchange, making clear that you’ve actually read and like their site in your mail. People hate impersonal link exchange requests.
Other than reciprocals, there are some free directories where you can list your site. The most important of these is dmoz.org which is run by volunteers and is the basis of Google’s own directory. Submit your site and hope for the best. Other free directories may help a bit but the endless form filling can largely be a waste of time.
Otherwise you can post your link in forums, pages on Wikipedia, and just write to webmasters letting them know about this amazing resource you’ve built up.
Another option is to offer something for free. You write an article or submit a photo to another site and ask only for a link back to your website as a reward. They get the content, you get the link – it’s a win-win deal.
Be generous also with your external links by linking to quality sites on the internet that are related to your subject. Don’t worry about losing out to the competition – you’ll be doing your readers a service and they’ll come to trust you as a source of quality web info. Google and co may also come to the same conclusion.
But don’t ever link to what are known as bad neighbourhoods – these include porn, poker and order-a-bride sites.
For more ideas and questions, check out the link section of Webmaster World