This is search engine optimization tip number ten in our continuing series of search engine optimization tips. Each search engine optimization tip is very specific, should not take a long time to fix (or to check to see if you are following the search engine optimization best practices), and will be rather “short and sweet” and directly to the point.
If you have not been following along with all of our search engine optimization tips, you might want to take a look at some of the previous SEO tips that we have already talked about. The last SEO tip, search engine optimization tip number nine, we talked about linking out to web sites. In search engine optimization tip number eight, we talked about Alt Tags and how you need to make sure that your keywords are in your Alt Tags and that they need to describe specifically what the image is and what someone will see when they look at it. Previously, before that, we talked about the anchor text of internal links. Then, before that, we talked about having keyword in your urls, linking to your home page, the meta keywords tag, the keywords on your web page, the meta description tag, and your web page’s title tag. All of these “search engine optimization tips” are things I look at when analyzing a site or optimizing it for the search engines. Keep in mind, though, that this is only the beginning. There are a lot more search engine optimization tips coming.
For this tenth search engine optimization tip, let’s talk again about who you are linking out to. The last tip talked about linking out to an authoritative web site, someone who is most likely already ranking in the search results for a keyword phrase you are linking to. In other words, if you have a web page or blog post about “red widgets” then you will want to link out to another page about “red widgets”, ideally an information page that already ranks well in the search results.
In this search engine optimization tip, I would like to talk more in general about the web sites that you are linking to. When was the last time you checked the outgoing links on your web site? Especially if you have an old “links page” on your web site, I recommend checking all of the links on your web site. Did you know that you could be linking to a (gasp!) pills, a casino, or even an adult web site? Or even a web site that is merely a “domain parking page”?
There is a rather large domain name market out there: especially for domain names that have expired or not renewed by their previous owners. Oftentimes, domain names that are expired or “dropped” still have link value, still have traffic going to them. And in many cases these domain names get picked up (bought) by people seeking additional website traffic or links; and many tend to be associated with pills, adult content, or other content that you would not want to endorse. You might even be linking to your competitor without even knowing it (a competitor of yours could have bought a domain that you are linking to).
So, for search engine optimization tip number ten, I recommend using Xenu Link Sleuth to check the links on your web site. Xenu Link Sleuth will check all of the links on your web site and give you a report. If you have a links page or a “partners” page on your web site you should go right now and check all of those outgoing links. You can even use something like the W3c link checker to check the external links. I also like to use this link checker tool to see the status code that a web page returns. Another option would be to manually check the links; just make sure that you have your virus checker program like McAfee or Norton up to date before you do this manually.
There are several reasons why you would want to make sure that you are not linking to a rogue web site, but the first thing I can think of is who you are linking to; it does not make sense to me for a search engine to reward a web site that links to an off-topic web site.