As the internet becomes ever more competitive it has never been more vital to brush up your skills in the art of Link Building. Whether you just need to recheck your notes or under go a course of SEO Lessons, you need to do whatever it takes to hit the big time. But is it really the be all and end all of online success?

In order to have any chance of being successful you need to be noticed and you need to have a site which people want to visit, want to use and will come back to time and time again. The more inward links your site has, the more the likes of Google will take notice of you, and hopefully the higher you will rise up the search engine ranking tree. It is the search engine ranking system which will always bring in the most traffic, and ensure that you are at your most visible to the outside world.

So how do you build links?

Link building is an art in itself but it is an art which can prove priceless in both the short, medium and longer term success of your business. The ability to give your readers information which they want to see will ensure that your inward links grow naturally, but you also need to get your content noticed and mentioned in as many places as possible.

Many people choose to advertise their sites on forums, social networks and by advertising, all of which have the potential to bring in very good traffic. However, if you are able to produce, present and promote your posts and information in a way which appeals to the masses this is when your site can go “viral”. Viral marketing is the holy grail of link building, a technique which can result in hundreds if not thousands of inward links to your site and boost your search engine rankings.

If you are serious about being successful on the internet you need to check out link building and see what it can do for you!

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Since the introduction of Google’s controversial image search engine, which effectively lists masses of individual images, there have been a number of differing opinions as to whether traffic from this image search engine should actually count towards the traffic to your overall site. Is it valid, or just passing by?

While there are many people who are deeply entrenched in their views on this one, the fact remains that a visit to your site gives you the potential to retain one more customer for the future, the chance to sell your wears. Regardless of how the visitor found your site, even if they are just there to copy one of your images they may well take a fancy to other areas of your site.

There are many who believe that these image surfers are just looking for pictures for their sites, and will not so much as take a second glance at your site, just the image they are after. While this may be true in some situations, there will also be occasions when someone likes you site and decides to stay around. So should you include image traffic when selling your site?

It would be a little unfair to claim that all of the image related traffic was going to visit you again, and were potential customers, therefore it would be sensible to give any potential buyer of your site a breakdown of the traffic. Once everything is out in the open then it is up to the potential buyer to make their own mind up, rather than receive a shock when they buy the site and see how much image traffic there is.

In the end, how a visitor found your site is irrelevant, getting them to stay and then come back is the main task ahead – and not an easy one!

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As the algorithms of Google and other search engines continue to change, it is becoming more and more vital to get as many good quality back links as possible. The main search engine players are now looking to discount bought links, putting a higher emphasis on links which occur naturally – or after some persuasion from various site owners!

So how do you go about attracting natural back links?

While in theory you only need to give a free service, free information or promise a mention of some sort on your site to attract back links, it is not always so easy in practice. You really need to offer something a little different, something unique and ultimately something which is in demand. Whether this is some kind of affiliate program for today’s must have product, or just the latest giveaway which webmasters can use to reward their own customers, it really does not matter – so long as they give you a back link!

Even though Page Rank is not as vital as it may have been in the past, there is nothing to say that Google will not bring in a new form which may be bigger and better than all before – possibly restoring the Page Rank system to its former glory. There is also the issue of traffic, and putting the Page Rank issue aside, the more quality back links you have the more chance of follow through traffic.

Those who stand still in the online industry will die, but those who look and plan ahead have every chance of planting a few seeds which they can reap in the future. While it is not always good to be “first to market” with something new, you certainly don’t want to be the last to market. The best webmasters are able to ride the popularity wave just as it reaches its peak, jump off and then find the next one!

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While there is a long running saga about whether your should link your own sites together, whether you will be penalised and what damage it may do, there is still traffic to be used. Why have a network of say 10 sites, with a few which get massive traffic figures, and not be able to “circulate” readers around the rest of the network?

As any business person will know, the main skill to being successful is squeezing the last drop of income out of your customers, but doing it in a subtle way. The hard sell, and blatant abuse of your customer does not go down well, but is there anything wrong with encouraging your customers to look at other sites in your network, other sites which they may find of interest?

As long as you are not taking your customers for granted, not using under hand techniques to get them to look at your other sites and showing them sites which they should find useful, then you should be alright. Now there is the problem of protecting your sites from any potential penalty points from Google and other search engines. In the current web hosting environment this is not too difficult……

A number of web hosting companies now offer a relatively cheap dedicated servers service which allows you to hold your individual sites on different IP addresses, within the same web hosting account. Not only does this help to keep all of your sites in one place, but it also allows you to inter-link each and every site in your network, where you should benefit from inward Page Rank links and hopefully boost the Page Rank for many of your sites.

While there are rumours that Google are now able to compare who actually owns each site, and penalise same ownership site links, this is highly unlikely because of the process involved. If it were this simple, why do Google constantly threaten to penalise you, rather than just doing it?
Plus the fact is that Google have constant problems having enough hardware to deal with all their data processing. Brought to you by our cheap web hosting specialists.

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While to the honest business person, the idea of linking all of your sites together in one network seems to make sense. You spend money on advertising and the whole of your network should really benefit, but what do Google think about this?

The likes of Google are known to take a dim view of linking sites which are owned by the same third party, and while people are finding ways around it, Google are adamant that if they find this happening they will disadvantage your websites when the Page Rank reviews come around. The simplest mistake which site owners make is to link sites which are hosted on the same IP address. Why are Google so sensitive about this and can they really check who owns which site, and why they are linked?

Google are against “structured” site linking because it can give a boost to some or all of the websites involved, and they are also trying to kill the link exchange and link selling markets. They have ways and means of checking to see which sites are inter linked, using the information which their “spiders” collect on their never ending journey around cyberspace.

There are also rumours that Google are putting together an operation which will actually check the public records to see who owns particular sites, to see if they are using different IP addresses to get around the situation. All in all Google are doing their best to outlaw link exchanges / building as much as possible, but they will never truly control the market – there are ways and means.

If you are thinking of linking your sites, be very careful because what you gain on the traffic, you may well lose on the next Page Rank exercise!

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While we have this constant battle between webmasters and the search engine giants such as Google, there is one party who are stuck in the middle of it all, and not sure what to do – the Search Engine Optimization industry. While their business models are built around a number of elements from keyword placement to link building, each and every element has a part to play – if you take one away what will happen?

There is a major debate ongoing as to whether link building is actually detrimental to the development of the internet. When searching for popular keywords, do you really want to see sites which have very little to offer, except they have a few keywords in the right place? Would you not feel more comfortable dealing with a business that was willing to spend money, a site which looks as though it has had time spent on developing it? Surely the internet is all about quality not quantity?

If Google were to make any more major changes then we may see a backlash from developers and website owners – could this open the door for MSN or Yahoo! to step in and make a play for the big time?

The truth is that even Google do not know how the internet will develop in the future, because no matter how hard they push in one direction they cannot afford to upset their customers. They may have ventured away from the Search Engine industry with the acquisition of sites such as YouTube, but the search engine business is still their main area of expertise – but are they willing to take the chance that they know their customers better than they know themselves?

It would take a brave business to push against their customers for too long, although we will see how this progresses.

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