Link Building That Makes Sense: Who To Link To
by Daria Goetsch

When you are building links to increase your link popularity, 
who do you link to? The question of where to link to increase 
ranking can be confusing. Logical thinking is needed to achieve 
link popularity in a natural way.

First and foremost, PageRank is part of the algorithm of Google's 
ranking in the search engine results. Other search engines use 
link popularity in their algorithm to evaluate your website as 
well. But PageRank is only one of the 100 plus criteria Google 
uses to evaluate your web pages. Use the idea of PageRank as a 
"tool" to help make decisions, but there's no need to live and 
die by the results. Link popularity itself is merely one way to 
improve your ranking.

Think about it. You see a quality website, you see good content. 
The site is a "Mom and Pop" website with little ranking. So what 
if the Google Toolbar says PageRank 2/10? That 2/10 may one day 
be 8/10. More importantly, you are linking to it because it is 
good to link to for your visitors - end of story.

There is a general fear of reciprocal linking to websites who 
inadvertently link to a "bad neighborhood" with penalties or 
PageRank zero, passing on problems to you. Use your common 
sense. Is this a website you would want to visit or your 
visitors would want to visit? If the answer is no or you can't 
tell what the subject of the site is, make a note of it and 
keep looking. A website full of links with little content 
doesn't "make sense" because what benefit is it to you or your 
visitors? Of course you are going to link to your partners in 
business or maybe the small website that is doing a bang up 
job of selling widgets and providing widget information.

If you are going to link, what purpose does it serve? The idea 
of acquiring link popularity by linking back and forth to other 
sites to boost your popularity artificially is a popular method. 
But is it of value to your website? Ask yourself:

* Would you link to this site if link popularity in the search 
  engines didn't matter?
* Would your visitor care about this link or find it helpful?
* Does the website have good content?
* Is this an opportunity for you to publicize your website by 
  being listed there?
* Will this link cause you to spend a great deal of time 
  worrying about it?
* Is the link "just a link" or do you want a link from any site 
  whose visitors care about what you have to say.

It makes sense to list your website in the search engines and 
directories. In fact, one-way linking, such as listing your site 
in directories, is a good way to improve your link popularity 
naturally. Well, you say to yourself, of course I've done that. 
Besides the major directories, what else is out there? You'd be 
surprised at the amount of good secondary and specialty 
directories that drive traffic. Some even specialize in a topic 
- maybe your topic. If you have a product to sell, look at who 
your competitor is linking to. Search for directories and 
business sites on your topic. Look for websites that talk about 
the widgets you sell and see if they accept submissions to their 
directory listings in the category for widgets. Do they accept 
original articles, product reviews, press releases or white 
papers about widgets? If so, submit your topical articles and 
watch your link popularity rise naturally. Always include your
author bio, website link, reprint and copyright information for 
your company. With your good content on other websites as well 
as archived on your own website, there you have it, links 
pointing back to your website.

You've heard about good navigation, website usability and other 
ways to keep your site visitors interested in your site. Who are 
the search engines catering to? Webmasters? Search Engine 
Marketers? Google is a prime example - they want to create the 
best experience for their search engine users. It all ties in 
together - good content, good navigation, good usability, 
validated code, and relevant search engine results - because it 
makes sense. If Google, as the leader in search engines, is 
concerned about the visitor, don't you think the other search 
engines are following suit?

Focus your time on good content which uses your important keyword 
phrases. Optimize your web pages using those keywords. Develop 
your website so once your visitors arrive, they will want to 
stay. The world wide web uses linking to connect us all. By 
using hard work to create a quality website and common sense 
when linking you can stop worrying and start succeeding.

Daria Goetsch is the founder and Search Engine Marketing 
Consultant for Search Innovation Marketing
(, a Search Engine Promotion
company serving small businesses. She has specialized in search 
engine optimization since 1998, including three years as the 
Search Engine Specialist for O'Reilly & Associates, a technical 
book publishing company.