In previous articles, we've discussed the role of Google PageRank in search engine optimization and showed you how to look up the competition's Google PageRank.
PageRank is only one part of Google's search engine algorithm but it's important enough that you should undertake efforts to increase your PageRank.
This boils down to getting other sites to link to your site and it's a fairly tedious process.
It involves identifying a comprehensive list of places that you could be linked to from and then pursuing attaining the links.
Before moving forward on this, you need to know how to see who is linking to you now and how to see who is linking to your competitor and peer sites.
One way to do this is to go to www.alltheweb.com.
Enter the following in the search box (one at a time):
The results shown show you how many websites link to these sites of ours. As we write this article,Walker Sands has 18,400 inbound links, and Gaebler.com has 3,320 inbound links.
How many inbound links does your site have?
Type in link:www.yourdomain.com (substituting in your actual domain name) to see how many inbound links you have.
You can also try this technique on key competitor and peer web sites to see how they are doing.
Alltheweb.com isn't the only place you can do this. You can also enter the same searches at Yahoo.com. You will get slightly different results at Yahoo than at AlltheWeb.com, so you should always check both.
To do better in the search engines you need to bump that the number of links to your site up considerably.
Notice that quantity of links is important but quality also matters. Indeed, a site may have more inbound links than another site but still have a lower PageRank. That's because the other site probably has some very high-quality inbound links (i.e. inbound links from high PageRank pages).
What sites can you get links from?
You should be thinking about things like this: associations you belong to that might link to your sites; vendors that might link to your site; job sites where you post positions; partner sites; client sites; trade publication directories, etc.
The best way to find out sites that might link to you is to look at who links to competitors and peers. For example, search on link:www.competitordomain.com (again, making the obvious substitution) at www.alltheweb.com and you will see all the sites that link to your competitor's site.
Look at each of the inbound links to your competitors and consider if you might be able to get a similar link. If the answer is yes, take the necessary steps to get that inbound link!
In searching for backlink opportunities, it's sometimes better to start with a smaller competitor because it's a smaller list to start from and because you are more likely to be able to get the links they got. A large public company in your business might be listed at www.nasdaq.com as a member firm; you won't get a link like that unless you too are a public company.
How you reach out to potential linking sites is up to you. Taking the time to visit each page and write a customized email solicitation is very effective but sucks up time.
One can use a more efficient approach that sends many emails to [email protected] (where domainx is variable), and the email says "I notice you link to Competitor X on this page – URL here. Could you possibly add a link to our site? We are…"
However, that approach is pretty spammy, and, compared to undertaking a more sincere and personalized effort, you are less likely to get many quality inbound links.
Before you start emailing websites, asking for links, create a spreadsheet in which you will record every contact you make.
If you don't keep tabs on who you've been in touch with, you may find yourself going through the same exercise six months from now, and having to start from scratch.
Now, you understand the fundamentals of getting inbound links. There are other clever ways to get inbound links, but will save those techniques for a future article.