The Imperfect World of Quantifying Website Traffic
Online Advertising Lingo
Necessities for Every Company with a Website
Leveraging the True Power of the Internet
Bootstrap Marketing Online
A Dated Introduction to Online Marketing*
*Note: This is the original version of a whitepaper that was authored in 2001 by iCondotta's founder and principal consultant, Stephan Aarstol. It's a useful primer, but dated - pre-Wikipedia (2001), pre-Google AdWords PPC (2002), way pre-YouTube (2005), you get the picture...
Outside of online ad placements that are purchased for the sole purpose of branding, a large component of every paid web marketing initiative is related to building inbound links to a website, a splash page advertisement, or some type of commerce application. Paying for inclusion in a directory, paying a search engine optimization company to optimize your pages to get better results in the search engines, or buying a banner ad or text link on a site or in a newsletter are all just a form of building links. Often times, this is the central focus of a company’s entire web marketing strategy.
Nonetheless, for the most part, putting a concerted effort into cultivating the vast amount of quality free inbound links available to a website is usually an afterthought for most websites. On the face of it, this appears totally absurd that companies would opt to go with the most expensive end of a link building campaign first, but this is typically how it happens. A good link building strategy is not something that you can just throw money at. It requires someone to roll up his or her sleeves and put in a good deal of time and effort. Unfortunately, for many companies, when the marketing department is faced with 200 hours of concentrated effort versus a $20,000 ad placement, they go with the ad placement every time. What’s worse is that the ad placement, while probably just as essential of a marketing component, isn’t going to have but a fraction of the long-term effect that a good group of wellplaced links will have.
There are two tactical objectives that every link building strategy should have:
The first step is to get listed in the top directories namely: Yahoo and The Open Directory (www.dmoz.com). The next step is to scour the web to find all of the related web guides, portals, and link lists that are relevant to your product or service offerings. These are typically free listings or only require a nominal fee. Often times you can update or add your company listing by simply filling out a form. You would be amazed how many companies don’t even bother with this step on the most popular sites in their industry. It’s astonishing. They are usually giving out free, quality listings and still they have a difficult time getting any companies to give them the time of day. Even if you can’t get a link back to your website, you may still be able to get your company name and contact info listed. Spend an hour or two doing a good job on this and then take your whole company’s staff on a weeklong vacation on some tropical island with all the money you just saved by getting free advertising.
The next step is making your site worthy of being linked to. While your industry web guides, portals, and link lists may be more than willing to give you a free link, the other 99% of sites that are somewhat related to your line of products of services won’t be so motivated. It is impossible to overcome the reality that the less useful your website’s content is, the less likely it is that other sites will give you a link. Asking, however politely, for a link will not get you very far. Perhaps you will get a link on some buried “Links” page, but this isn’t the kind of link that will address objective #1. The key to getting links is to add valuable content and reference sources to your site that are specific to your products and services. Get creative here. It may be difficult, time consuming, or require a sizeable cash outlay, but it is marketing dollars well spent. Think of this process as building a big magnet. If you do a good enough job here, the links will create themselves.
Lastly, keep in mind that a few good links will always be more effective than a bunch of relatively worthless links in reaching objective #1. Quality, not quantity is the objective here.
Search engines are continually trying to improve the means by which they index web pages so as to provide more relevant search results for their users. As a result, the number of relevant links each website has pointing to it is becoming more and more of a factor in determining a site’s search result positioning. Newly launched web sites have a bit of a hill to climb before they even have a chance to compete with sites that have accumulated a number of links over the years.
Keep in mind that all inbound links are not scored equally. In general terms, the more relevant the linking site is to the term searched on, the more weight it carries with the search engines. Also, links that reside beyond the 2nd level (one click from the homepage) in a site’s page structure are not usually given consideration by most search engines. And lastly, links in newsletters, while they may be extremely beneficial all by themselves, are not counted in the search engine game.
If you’ve spent significant time addressing objective #1 above, all that remains is to do is play the numbers game by seizing every opportunity to get 1st and 2nd level links on a substantial number of relevant sites, even if they won’t bring you much traffic directly. There’s really nothing to lose.
Authored in 2001
by Stephan Aarstol