If you Want Visitors, Build Bridges

by John Almberg, Identry, LLC July 2007

Imagine that the Internet is an azure sea, dotted by palm draped islands. The islands, of course, are web sites. They come in all sizes, from big ones like eBay, Wikipedia, and YouTube, to smallish ones like yours. But stamp collectors know that sometimes the best treasure is buried on the smallest island, so they are always looking for new places to visit.

There's only one problem. Looking out across the sea, you can see most of the islands are connected to other islands by bridges. And the biggest islands have lots of bridges.

Even your main competitor, Capt. Jack Stamps, seems to have many bridges leading to his small island. How did he do that?

Through binoculars, you can see people streaming across the bridges, and you are sure that some are stamp collectors who would love the treasures – stamps – carefully arranged in your beach front store.

The problem is, only a couple small islands have build bridges to your island. No wonder so few customers find their way to your island! Not enough bridges! Something must be done!

Googlecopter to the rescue?

Then you notice another way for people to get from island to island. When they get tired of an island, they snap their fingers and a multi-colored Googlecopter swoops in, picks them up, and whisks them to their next destination.

Fantastic! The answer to your problem. No need to convince other people to build bridges to your island. You just need Googlecopter to drop collectors on your island, instead of Capt. Jack's.

You wave your arms, rearrange the furniture in your store, even add blinking, scrolling lights to your sign. No good. The Googlecopter flies over your island like it wasn't there.

As you stare forlornly out over that azure sea, you finally notice that the Googlecopter almost always lands on islands with lots of bridges leading to them! Coincidence?

Bridge Building Catch-22

If you read our previous article “Unlocking the Mysteries of Search Engines”, you know it's not coincidence. Google uses bridges – links from other websites to your website – to help 'rank' your website. Each link is a 'vote' for your website. The more votes, the higher your website ranks.

So having lots of bridges helps in two ways:

  1. They connect your site to the community of stamp websites, making it easier for collectors to find you.
  2. They make it much more likely that Google will rank your website as an 'important' website.

Here's the catch: you need inbound bridges, but you can't build an inbound bridge, yourself. Only the owners of other websites can do that. So how can you convince other website owners to build a bridge to your island?

Write lots of great content

If you are like most stamp dealers, you are an expert in your specialty. Share that knowledge! Write about it and post your writings to your website. Modern websites make it easy to add content. Add a bit every day, and before you know it, you'll have a tremendous amount of interesting, quality content that other website owners will want to link to.

Give some articles away

While you are at it, give people permission to copy some of your articles to their websites. Just require that they retain your name, copyright information, and a link to your website.

Get listed in directories

A Web directory is an organized collection of links to other websites. They include the Yahoo! Search Directory and the Open Directory Project, and the many stamp and hobby-related directories.

Most directories provide free listings. Some charge a yearly fee. The fees are worth it if you are serious about growing your business. Stay away from 'Link Farms' that can lower your Page Rank.

Write a blog

One of the best new ways to generate links is to write a blog that's interesting, informative, and a little bit controversial. Read other collector and dealer blogs and respond to them in your blog. The blogosphere is a community of interlinked blogs. Join it! Make sure your blog is hosted on your website, so you get the inbound links.

Encourage social bookmarking

Social bookmarking sites, like Digg and Del.icio.us, are a relatively new way for visitors – your customers – to create links to your website. Social bookmarks are 'votes' from collectors for your website.

Make it easy for collectors to vote for your site, by providing icons linked to the most popular social bookmarking services, and encourage customers to use them.

More information

This is probably the most important article in this series, and there many more ways to build links than I have room for here. For more ideas and free resources, click over to our page on  SEO Mangagment and Link Building Tools

Next issue, we'll start looking at the ways site search can help improve your sales. In the meantime, have a great month SELLING ON THE WEB!

Any questions, give us a call 631-546-5079, ask for John Almberg.