Why Would Anyone Link to Some Sites?

Hi Jill,

Push the button of every SEO expert and he/she will start talking about the importance of links for high rankings.

Problem is that when you come to think of it... for most basic ecommerce websites it's pretty irrelevant. I mean, if I'm selling car wheels, women's shoes or printers, why should anyone bother to link to my website? What can be so important about the average website that it will gain links from other websites? Moreover, experts always articulate that these links shouldn't be just link exchange operations or index listings... they should be links from important/leading websites. Yeah right....

As I see it, for the average ecommerce website this element is pretty useless. Meaning that the optimization process starts with the usual stuff - keywords, title, tags, etc.

Am I wrong?



Jill's Response

Hi Thomas,

You make some very good points! I've often said the same thing myself in the past, i.e., some websites are just websites and don't necessarily lend themselves to getting links.

However, once you start to think about things creatively, you may be surprised at the types of sites that might be interested in recommending your site to their visitors. After all, that's all that a link is -- or is supposed to be: a recommendation. It's important to note that you don't need to be looking for links from sites that sell or offer the same stuff you do. That would just be silly. You want people to recommend your site because it complements the stuff they offer on their own sites.

Let's take the types of sites you mentioned (car wheels, women's shoes, and printers) and brainstorm a little bit about whom the target audience is, what other sites they might be visiting, and what other types of products they might be purchasing.

Who buys car wheels? Well, people with cars for one thing! Additionally, people who need new wheels because perhaps they wrecked their old ones. And perhaps, people who want better, fancier wheels. Those are 3 distinct target markets, with some overlap of course. But if you just take the first market, those with cars, it opens up zillions of possibilities in terms of people who might want to purchase your car wheels. There are hundreds of thousands of sites that target people with cars. If your site has the best, cheapest, coolest, most unique (or whatever) car wheels around, plenty of those car-type sites might be happy to link to your site, or at least to sell you an ad on their site that points to yours.

To narrow it down further with the second target audience -- people who wrecked their old wheels and now need new ones -- they may also be purchasing other car parts to go with their broken wheels. Maybe there are sites out there that sell car bumpers or other car parts, but not the wheels. Those site owners may very well be looking for a great wheel site to send people to.

And for the third possible target audience -- people who want fancier wheels -- those types of people might very well be looking for more than just fancy car wheels. Maybe they also would like fancy steering wheels, or stick-shift covers, or whatever. Sites that sell other fancy car parts (but not the wheels) might be only too happy to recommend your great car wheel site.

Same thing with women's shoes. Do you know many women who just buy shoes and nothing to go with them?

And I don't know anyone who has a printer with no computer!

I hope this illustrates that once you start to think about the target market and what else they might want or like, it gets a lot easier to figure out who might link to your site. The possibilities are usually limitless!

Jill Whalen of High RankingsR is an internationally recognized search engine optimization consultant and host of the free weekly High RankingsR Advisor search engine marketing newsletter http://www.highrankings.com/advisor. Jill's handbook, "The Nitty-gritty of Writing for the Search Engines" http://www.highrankings.com/seo-writing.htm teaches business owners how and where to place relevant keyword phrases on their Web sites so that they make sense to users and gain high rankings in the major search engines.

Jill specializes in search engine optimization, SEO consultations, site analysis reports, SEM seminars and is the co-founder of the search marketing and website design company, Search Creative, LLC http://www.searchcreative.com/

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