Now that you have drawn up your list of candidate sites for link requests, it's time to do the groundwork in advance of your link submission campaign. Rather than reinvent the wheel for every submission and every site, a little effort dedicated to preparing a link promotion "kit" will save you a whole lot of time down the road.
Your link promotion kit is essentially a text file that will contain all the data you'll need to promote your site, ready to cut-and-paste. By compiling this information before starting your link submissions, you will remove any chance of error and speed up the promotion process enormously. So fire up your favourite text editor, and let's get started...
The Administrative Bits
Let's get started by adding your site's main URL, in full. For instance, http://www.example.com/. It is good practice to include the closing "/" at the end of the URL and to omit the specific page name e.g. "index.html". If you don't have a unique domain name for your website, get one! At less than US$10 a year from registrars such as NameCheap and GoDaddy, a domain name is a must for any serious site.
Once you've added the URL to your promotion kit text file, cut and paste it into your browser's address bar to make sure you've typed it correctly and your site loads.
Next thing on our list is the email address you will use to make link requests and receive notifications about link submissions. It's a good idea to pick up a dedicated free email account for this purpose - that way, you keep your main email address clean. If you have a friend with a Google Gmail account, ask them for an invitation - it's an excellent service. If not, you can pick from the hundreds of free email services listed on EmailAddresses.com.
Once you've added the email address, send yourself a test message to make sure you've recorded it correctly.
Now add your full name - you'll get tired of typing it in after about the 20th link submission! Also add your real-world address and telephone number. A few link resources require this level of detail - it's up to you to evaluate each one on a case-by-case basis to decide if you're happy handing over your physical coordinates.
With the administrative bit out of the way, it's time to focus on the key elements of your promotion kit: the site title, description and keyword list.
The Site Title
The site title is the single most important element of your kit. It plays a dual role: it has to be descriptive and appealing enough to make site visitors want to click on it, but it also has to include the type of information that will benefit your site's rankings in the search engines. If you fail to focus on both these goals simultaneously, you'll end up with a weak site title that does you very little good.
Remember: the site title is typically the element of the listing that gets linked to your site. In some cases, all you have to work with is the title - many sites don't go in for fancy listings!
Most major search engines make use of the specific wording of links (as well as the number of links, and their strength) in determining your site's ranking for specific keyphrases. A link that includes the relevant keyphrase represents a much stronger vote than one that doesn't.
One common mistake is to obsess about your company's name, or the unique name you've given a particular product or service. The problem here is that unless you're a household name, people simply won't be looking for you in those terms (if indeed, they're looking for you at all.) Instead, go for something descriptive yet still readable. Stay as concise as possible - the fewer words, the better, so long as what's left is still meaningful!
- BAD: ACME Star Numbers
- BETTER: ACME Payroll Tax Software
- BAD: Rob's Waders
- BETTER: Rob's Fishing Rods and Supplies
You may want to go back to your own site and edit the TITLE meta-tag to reflect your chosen descriptive title. This can have a positive effect on search engine optimisation, and it will also fulfill the requirements of many directories that your stated "title" should match the title visible on your site.
It's a good idea to come up with a couple of variations of your title. These don't have to be wildly different, but you may choose a slightly different emphasis for each one. By alternating the titles you choose when submitting to different link resources, you're gradually going to build up a picture for the search engines of a site that covers all the themes encompassed by these different titles.
Descriptions (all shapes and sizes)
Your site's description is a text version of your "elevator pitch" for the products or services you offer. Could you explain what you do in the time it takes an elevator to go from the 10th floor to the ground? How about the 5th floor? How about travelling between two adjacent floors?
The amount of space you'll be allocated for the description varies widely from site to site. Some offer as little as 50 characters, some generously offer an essay-worthy 50 words or more. While you can't hope to prepare for every permutation and eventuality, it's worth working on several versions of your description to fit these typical lengths...
- 50 characters
- 7 words
- 10 words
- 15 words
- 20 words
- 30 words
- 50 words
For anything under 15 words, you're probably best sticking to a single sentence. Even with the more generous allocations, you want to keep the wording tight, with no wasted words. It's fine to get creative, but stick with facts rather than hype - and try and work in a few keywords without turning the whole thing into a grocery list! Remember, this paragraph is selling your site - and it's providing additional ammunition to the search engines!
Again, as with the title, you may find it useful to feed the description you come up with (20 word length should be about right) back into your own site in the form of the DESCRIPTION mega-tag. You may also want to consider putting the 50 word version as the introductory text at the very top of your site - that way, people know where they are and what to expect.
Grab a blank piece of paper and write down any 20 words you associate closely with your site. Now re-read the list and add any words that these 20 words make you think of. Now cross off anything that's not descriptive - it's no use putting subjective qualities or emotions (tasty, elegant etc.) into the keyword list as it is going to be read by software, not people. Finally, rank the keywords you've listed in the order you feel they apply to your site.
You can now use this list whenever you have the opportunity to add keywords to a listing - simply start at the top and add as many keywords off of your list as the site has room for. You may also want to incorporate the results of this brainstorming exercise in the KEYWORDS meta-tag on your site.
At the end of this exercise, you should have a full link promotion kit ready to be used. It should be stored in an easy to access form such as a text file.
You need to include all the administrivia elements you'll need: site URL, email address, full name, address and telephone number.
You also need to include 2 or 3 variants of a descriptive site title, and 7 different descriptions. Finish with a list of 10-20+ keywords directly relevant to your site.