Link Building: A Legacy of Lazy Linkers

  |  July 2, 2008   |  Comments

Lazy linkers, random linkers, and lethargic spiders. What's a link builder to do? Tactics for getting your site right.

In "Link Building Starts at Home," we examined how linking building begins with your home page and all the other pages that make up your Web site. Keep in mind: it's important to serve up seemingly static hierarchical URL structures, providing consistently crawlable keyword-rich navigational constructs and leveraging CSS (define) to build an optimal platform for link building.

Before analyzing how other Web site functions can fracture link-building efforts, you must understand why your Web site's structure is crucial for efficient link building. It's a pretty straightforward proposition: linkers are lazy, so link builders need to work harder.

Random linkers are particularly lazy, which is probably one big reason bookmark services have outpaced using browsers for following favorites. Random linkers don't care if they lock into an appended URL for an affiliate when they comment about your content on their blogs, forums, or beyond.

Random linkers don't care if they use FeedBurner URLs to follow your RSS feeds. Random links just latch on to any odd link, which is why link builders have to work harder to channel their choices into an optimal destination URL.

Lethargic Spiders

When your Web site presents linkers with JavaScript-embedded links in Flash files for .swf (define) objects, linkers have to click on something to reach their desired destination. Search engine spiders, not so much. As a matter of fact, the only thing lazier than random linkers are search engine spiders, because they won't even bother to click on a link.

Once again, you must work harder to get search engine spiders to follow a JavaScript navigational path or help the spiders read content in a Flash file. There are a lot of ways you can do that. CSS is a great workaround for JavaScript-based navigation. For other elements, like JavaScript used in Flash files, you'll need to do some work on the .swf objects to make your content visible.

Workarounds include using a program like sIFR (define). SIFR functions well to make invisible Flash-embedded navigation visible for search engines spiders to follow. Flash SDK can help too, but plan to weed out superfluous programmatic phrases.

More elegant Flash workarounds include progressive enhancement (define) adds yet another layer of complexity to the situation. Few if any URLs are created during the phenomenal user experience, so linkers are stuck with tapping a limited link series that may or may not be what they are actually talking about when they establish the link. There are options for workarounds for AJAX, too. Some Webmasters end up creating static HTML pages, which are snapshot versions of AJAX pages programmatically generated by site visitors. These pages are then linked together with a supplemental architecture of sorts beyond just providing site search results.

The use of supplemental architecture and alternative navigation schemes such as bread crumbs, pagination constructs and archives, site search results, tag clouds, and even a stoic old sitemap don't just help bind AJAX-based sites together. These types of tactics also provide alternative paths for spiders to crawl and index. What's optimal for link building is often optimal for spiders, too.

Remember, supplemental linking tactics that help bind a site together are no replacement for hierarchical navigational constructs. These linking tactics are just another set of SEO (define) tools in your toolbox. Like most tools, they should be used wisely.

In Summary

Successful link building is all about increasing the number of high-quality, topically pertinent inbound links to a Web page to raise its visibility in search engine results for specific keywords and keyword phrases. As a result, there are several link-building tactics that require particular attention for your native site.

Good things happen when you get your site right. Every tactic I've talked about today and in my last column will help you create a stronger link-building strategy, because these tactics provide a link-friendly environment to house your content. Sure, you still need to optimize your content. But at least search engine spiders can see it now.

When you start link building from your home, you build a solid foundation for all your online marketing schemes, especially for natural search optimization initiatives. The tactics don't change when optimizing a Web 1.0 site or a Web 2.0 blog. Good link building starts with your home page. Happy linking makes for a happy home.

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P.J. Fusco

P.J. Fusco has been working in the Internet industry since 1996 when she developed her first SEM service while acting as general manager for a regional ISP. She was the SEO manager for Jupitermedia and has performed as the SEM manager for an international health and beauty dot-com corporation generating more than $1 billion a year in e-commerce sales. Today, she is director for natural search for Netconcepts, a cutting-edge SEO firm with offices in Madison, WI, and Auckland, New Zealand.

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