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How To Make Your Backlinks Count (Part I)

By Serge Botans

I think that we all know now how important backlinks are for the search engine ranking success of our web site. I also think that we all know now that one way to get these backlinks is by doing link exchanges with other sites. (For the uninitiated, backlinks are links on other web sites that point to ours.)
But do we know that there are various things we need to chëck before agreeing to exchanging links with another web site? After all, the whole point of exchanging links with others is to benefit from the ranking of their web sites. It is therefore imperative that we investigate ahead of time as to whether exchanging links with another site is to our advantage or not.

I have thought about this whole idea of link exchange preparation and came up with a 3-step process that involves an analysis of 3 pages of the web site we want to exchange links with. The 3 pages are:

the home page where we will need to chëck 7 things about that page,

the directory page: this is the page that contains a list of categories that the site has put together in a bid to organize its link exchanges. We need to chëck 7 things here,

the backlink page: this is the page that will contain our backlink. We also need to chëck 7 things here.
Note that in some cases, the ‘target’ web site will not have a directory page. In that case, our analysis will be a 2-step one rather than a 3-step one.

In this first article, of maybe 2 or 3, we shall look at the 7 things (organized in 2 groups) we should chëck about the home page of the target web site.

1. We need to chëck what Google thinks of the site. This is done by looking at some things that Google is happy to report about a site. The idea here is to see if there are any problems with the site, from Google’s point of view, that would cause us to decide not to exchange links with them.

I suggest that you look at:

a) how many pages the site has indexed? This can be done by using ‘site:www.site.com’ in the Google search box,

b) how many backlinks does Google report for the site? This can be done by using ‘links:www.site.com’ in the Google search box,

c) is the site listed in Google’s index? This can be done by using ‘http://www.site.com’ in the Google search box,

d) what is the Page Rank of the site/home page? There are several ways of doing this. One way is to get the Google toolbar and visit the web site to see its PR. Another way is to use one of the many web sites on the Internet that enables us to find the PR of any web site. And still another way is to look for software that will tell you the PR of any web site.

Although you will generally need to look at these 4 things together in a sort of table in order to decide whether the target site passes the first step or not, there are definite results that would cause me to decide straight away not to exchange links with a site:

-if the PR of the site is zero,

-if the site is not listed in the Google index,

-if the site does not have any pages indexed by Google.

You will note here that I am using Google as the first step in the preparation. In fact, we can use any search engine if we want to but given that Google is more fussy than others when it comes to backlinks, I would suggest using Google in the above first step.

2. I would then suggest that you look at 3 tags of the home page of the target site, in a bid to determine if the site has a theme compatible with yours:

a) Its title tag,

b) Its description tag,

c) Its keywords tag.

There are several ways of checking the content of a web page’s tags. If your browser, such as MSIE, allows you to view the content of a web page, then you will need to visit the home page and clíck on the right menu command to view the content of the page. Then you will need to scroll to the top of the page to view the content of its tags. The alternative is to look for web sites on the Internet that enable you to view the content of the tags of any web pages. There are many such web sites on the net.

The reason for this step is that Google takes into account the theme of web sites when looking at backlinks. This means that backlinks from a site that has a theme compatible with yours will be of higher value than one that comes from a site that has nothing to do with what your site is about.

As mentioned above, this preparation is for the home page of the target web site and is only the first step. There are 2 more steps: one for the directory page and one for the backlink page.

It is only when the target web site passes the 3 steps that you should feel confident about exchanging links with them in that the link exchange will be to your advantage. Needless to say that the target web site will also need to conduct a similar 3-step analysis of your site prior to wanting to exchange links with you.

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About The Author
Serge M Botans is the CEO of http://www.seo-analysis.com online-tools where you will find 2 frëe custom SEO tools. One of these tools will enable you to conduct the link exchange preparation mentioned in this article.

 

Camilla Todd
Camilla Todd is Head of Digital Marketing at WNW Digital and manages Search Engine Optimisation, PPC, Social Media campaigns and Brand Awareness for WNW Digital SEO clients. You can follow her on Twitter @camilla_wnw, email her at camilla@wnwdigital.co.uk or phone on 01392 349580