Now Is the Time for a Portal Link Audit

  |  July 23, 2001   |  Comments

Have you maximized your links across the major portals? Do you know all the options available to you there? You have other things to do than keep up with every nuance of portal linking. And it's become harder to keep up. But it's well worth your time to try.

For a Web marketer trying to maximize links at the major portals, it is the best of times, and it is the worst of times. Opportunities abound, but it's so confusing that you avoid them.

Can you say with 100 percent certainty that you have maximized your links across the major portals? Are you comfortable that you know all the linking options available to you at these key traffic centers? Don't feel bad if your answer is no. It's become much harder to keep up, and most marketers have other things to do with their days than try to keep up with every nuance of portal linking.

But it's well worth your time to try. As the search engines and directories partner up with each other, with paid link providers, with reviewers, with product databases, with news providers, with advertisers, with anyone they think can help them build a better service, the result from a linking perspective is a bevy of new linking opportunities that didn't exist a year ago.

Take a site like Google. A link to your site can come from Google in at least three ways, some paid, some free. Google pulls links from three different sets of data. Is your site listed with all three? Do you know what they are?

At Yahoo, there are as many as seven different sets of data from which a link to your site could come. There's the basic Yahoo category listing, but have you checked into the six others?

And at AOL, a searcher could find your links in at least four different databases.

The key is two-sided:

  • Make sure you understand which databases are being queried for each search.

  • Determine what it takes to be in as many of those databases as possible.
I'll illustrate with a simple example. Google takes the words you are searching for and passes them through four different databases on the way to presenting the results to you. The first database is Google's own index of millions of Web pages. The second database is Netscape's Open Directory. The third database is the paid AdWords program database, and the last database is the paid banner advertiser database.

So, there are four ways your link could appear to a Google searcher. You have to decide which of those four databases you want to be in and whether it's free or costs you a little money to do so.

And Google is the simplest of the portals. Now multiply four or five databases times six or seven portals, and lo and behold you could have over 20 databases to deal with if you want to maximize your link presence across the portals. Some of these databases you pay to be in, such as GoTo.com's main index, Google's AdWords, and About.com's Sprinks. Others are free to be in (kind of), such as Netscape's directory.

So, what I suggest you do is conduct a portal link audit for your site and maybe even for your competitors. Find those places where you could be linked. Fill gaps, plug holes. You can be sure your competitor is doing it. How do I know this? Because I'm now doing three or four link audits every month as more and more clients ask for them. And the results are amazing. Not one site I've done an audit for has maximized link appearances across the portals. Many sites could double or triple the number of links they have with little expense and a little time. Every new portal partnership could mean a new way your link could make it to the results page.

You can do a portal link audit yourself or have someone else do it for you; but, either way, do one. The resulting report will be a real eye opener, and you'll end up knowing where the holes (missing links) are and what to do to plug them.

Until next time, I remain

Eric Ward,
Link Mensch

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Eric Ward

Eric Ward founded the Web's first link building and content publicity service, called NetPOST. Today, Eric provides strategic linking consulting, link building services, training, and consulting via EricWard.com. The publisher of the strategic linking advice newsletter LinkMoses Private, Eric is a co-developer of AdGooroo's Link Insight.

Eric uses his experience and unique understanding of web's vast linking patterns to teach companies his link building techniques. He has developed content linking strategies for PBS.org, WarnerBros, The Discovery Channel, National Geographic, About.com, TVGuide.com, and Weather.com. Eric won the 1995 Tenagra Award for Internet Marketing Excellence, and in 2007 was profiled in the book Online Marketing Heroes.

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