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Using Search to Help you with Search Engine Optimization

Mark Jackson
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Regular Au Natural readers probably know you need both good on-site and off-site SEO to have a successful Web site. Off-site SEO generally means links from other Web sites pointing to yours. Related and on-topic links from other Web sites are necessary for success in the search engine rankings.

Over the years, search engines (especially Google) have become more particular about the types of links that you get to your Web site; rightfully so. This week, we'll focus on several ways to search for quality links.

First, make sure you have some links from the more "trusted" Web directories: Yahoo Directory; Business.com, and Best of the Web. Ideally, you want a link from all three, but a link from at least one is OK. I also recommend submitting your site to DMOZ because it's free and worth the two minutes it takes to find your category and make a one-time submission. Just don't hold your breath waiting for the listing to appear.

Depending on your industry, certain "trade journals" or directories may be popular sites. These sites usually rank well in the search results for many of the generic keywords that describe your industry. Links from the "industry" sites will also help your site because the link value will be passed on, and for overall brand and Web site visibility. Just make sure the site is trusted.

How do you determine if a site is trusted? Check Google's search results to see if the site has sitelinks. Sitelinks are the links (usually between four and eight) which Google shows below the first search result for a query, usually when you search for a company name or a Web site name. These link to internal pages.

Take, for example, Yahoo Directory. A Google search for "yahoo directory" shows this is a "trusted site" because sitelinks are shown below the Yahoo Directory search result. If a site has sitelinks and is on-topic to your Web site, then this is a place you want a link from.

Let's look at queries you can make using your favorite search engine (mine being Google) that can help you find places to acquire links to your Web site. We're after links that are related to your Web site. So in our queries we'll want to search using your most important keyword(s).

I've compiled a list of possible searches for link research. Remember to replace "keyword" with your most important keyword. For example, search for: telecom + "your link here" if the most important keyword that describes your Web site is "telecom."

To start, these searches show sites that contain your keyword plus tell you where to add links. These sites indicate that links are available upon request. We've also added a minus sign with the word "reciprocal" because we don't want to trade links or reciprocate with another site:

  • keyword + "your link here" -reciprocal
  • keyword + "post your link" -reciprocal
  • keyword + "post a link" -reciprocal
  • keyword + "post your link" -reciprocal
  • keyword + "list your site" -reciprocal

Next, these searches show sites that contain your keyword and variations of "add URL." This helps you find places to add your URL (link) to their site:

  • keyword "add url"
  • keyword "add site"
  • keyword "add website"
  • keyword "add your site"
  • keyword "add a url"

Now let's look for sites that contain your keyword and variations of "add URL." Here, we're adding an asterisk, which indicates the words we're searching for don't have to be together. For example, the site might say something like "add your telecom URL." The asterisk adds a wildcard to the query:

  • keyword "add * url"
  • keyword "add * site"
  • keyword "add * website"

Let's next look for sites that contain your keyword and variations of the words "submit URL." This gives you a place where you can add your URL (link) to their site:

  • keyword "submit url"
  • keyword "submit site"
  • keyword "submit website"
  • keyword "submit your site"
  • keyword "submit a url"

Again, we'll add an asterisk into the mix as we next search for sites that contain your keyword and variations of "submit URL," indicating the words we're searching for don't have to be together:

  • keyword "submit * url"
  • keyword "submit * site"
  • keyword "submit * website"

Next, we'll look for sites that contain your keyword and variations of "suggest URL." This gives you a place where you can add your URL (link) to their site:

  • keyword "suggest url"
  • keyword "suggest site"
  • keyword "suggest website"
  • keyword "suggest your site"
  • keyword "suggest a url"

Once again, we'll add an asterisk into the mix as we search for sites that contain your keyword and variations of "suggest URL," indicating the words we're searching for don't have to be together:

  • keyword "suggest * url"
  • keyword "suggest * site"
  • keyword "suggest * website"

Where else can your Web site get links? Try these:

  • allintitle:keyword (Sites with the keyword in the title tag.)
  • allinanchor:keyword (Sites with the keyword in the anchor text pointing to their site.)
  • allinurl:keyword (Sites with the keyword in the Web site's URL address.)
  • allintext:keyword (Sites that have the keyword on their pages. This search may be helpful if you use your company name as "keyword" because it shows sites that contain your company's name. You may be able to convince the site owner to link to you if they're already mentioning your company name.)

Now let's search the Web directories related to your keyword:

  • keyword directory
  • keyword * directory
  • directory * keyword
  • intitle:directory "keyword"
  • inurl:directory "keyword"

These searches look for Web sites that have lists of Web sites related to your keyword:

  • "list of keyword sites"
  • "list * keyword sites"
  • "list * keyword * sites"

Meanwhile, these searches look for sites that have a listing of "recommended" or "favorite" links related to your keyword:

  • "recommended links" keyword"
  • "recommended sites" keyword"
  • "favorite links" keyword"
  • "favorite sites" keyword"

Now let's search for forums (message boards) related to your keyword:

  • keyword forum
  • "keyword forum"
  • intitle:keyword forum
  • inurl:keyword forum

What about blogs related to your keyword? You might be able to convince a blogger to write about your product or service. Or you may be able to make a useful comment about one of their blog posts, providing a link back to your site. Also, don't forget to look for blog posts where you can add a comment. Search for:

  • keyword blog
  • "keyword blog"
  • intitle:keyword blog
  • inurl:keyword blog
  • "add comment" keyword
  • "post comment" keyword

Joining a site or organization might also be a way to get a link back to your Web site. Search for:

  • keyword members
  • keyword join

Many Web sites use "tags" to create content. Blogs and social bookmarking sites may list these "tags." You may be able to add a blog post to the site and create a tag on the site.

For example, if you have a blog on WordPress's site, you can add a blog post with an outgoing link to your Web site. If you tag the post with your keyword, there could be an outgoing link on the WordPress site, most likely at www.wordpress.com/tag/keyword.

Social bookmarking sites also include tags. Adding your link to the site along with the appropriate keyword tag will allow you to get a link on that page:

  • keyword tag
  • intitle:tag keyword
  • intitle:post keyword

Certainly, you can perform several searches. These are really only the beginning.

Link research can take time, especially when you're manually doing these searches and visiting sites. Make sure to refer to this list, or bookmark this article, so you can refer to it in the future on your quest for links.

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