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Search optimization is about getting links. The more links you get to your Web site, the more likely you are to get into the first page of search engine results.

In other words, killer Web content gets killer Web links. Last week, we covered the basics. Here, we continue the conversation.

Go for quality

Go out and get links, and try to control the words in the links you get. Remember, an easy-to-get link is probably of little value.

Be careful about reciprocal linking

The "you give me a link and I'll give you a link" approach is the easiest—though usually the least effective—way to get linked.

If their link is dependent on your giving them a link back, be careful. Unless linking to them provides real value to your reader, don't do it. Remember, every time you provide an external link, you provide one more exit point from your Web site; and if you put up enough exit points, people will leave.

Get linked from Web sites that don't link much

If you are one of the few links from a prestigious Web site, then that says a lot. Some search engines will give you an extra boost for a link from such a site.

Get linked from important Web directories

This is particularly important if you have a new Web site. It can take quite a while to get the search engines to initially index (spider) you, and you will certainly increase your chances if you can be found in important directories, such as DMOZ and Yahoo.

"Be careful when submitting to directories," Jill Whalen of Highrankings.com states. "It's important to read each directory's FAQ and follow it precisely. Making mistakes in the submission process could cost you dearly as directory listings are difficult to change later in the game."

Of course, it's not just the major directories that you need to focus on. There may be specialist directories in your discipline that will be well worth getting listed on.

Don't go overboard

There are also thousands and thousands of directories that have little or no visitors and are really not worth the effort.

Get linked with the right carewords

Try to get links that use the most important carewords of your readers. If you offer cheap flights to Dublin, make sure that sites link to you with text that says something like "Best cheap flights to Dublin."

If you have great content on heart disease symptoms, the link you get should read something like "Heart disease symptoms: the 5 most important."

A link is like a signpost, and as soon as a reader sees a link with their carewords included, they are much more likely to click.

Consider an affiliate marketing program

Amazon.com runs a very successful affiliate program (i.e., other Web sites get a commission if they use Amazon.com as a mini-bookstore on their sites). Properly planned and executed, this can be a viable strategy.

However, be aware that affiliate approaches have often been abused as a way to trick the search engines, and they can thus be quite wary of them.

Go out and get links

The best links are difficult to get; and you won't get too many of them unless you're very lucky—or you go out and actively look for them.

Be patient. If you launch a new Web site, don't expect people to link to you straightaway. A link is an editorial decision, and many people will need to feel that you are reputable and are around for the long term before they will link. But be proactive and set a target of the number of links you want to achieve each month.

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image of Gerry McGovern
Gerry McGovern (gerry@gerrymcgovern.com) is a content management consultant and author. His latest book is The Stranger's Long Neck: How to Deliver What Your Customers Really Want Online, which teaches unique techniques for identifying and measuring the performance of customers' top tasks.