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Why Would Anyone Link to Some Sites?

August 16, 2006
Hi Jill,

Push the button of every SEO expert and he/she will start talking about the
importance of links for high rankings.

Problem is that when you come to think of it... for most basic ecommerce
websites it's pretty irrelevant. I mean, if I'm selling car wheels, women's
shoes or printers, why should anyone bother to link to my website?  What can
be so important about the average website that it will gain links from other
websites? Moreover, experts always articulate that these links shouldn't be
just link exchange operations or index listings... they should be links from
important/leading websites. Yeah right....

As I see it, for the average ecommerce website this element is pretty
useless. Meaning that the optimization process starts with the usual stuff -
keywords, title, tags, etc.

Am I wrong?



++Jill's Response++

 Hi Thomas,

You make some very good points! I've often said the same thing myself in the
past, i.e., some websites are just websites and don't necessarily lend
themselves to getting links.

However, once you start to think about things creatively, you may be
surprised at the types of sites that might be interested in recommending
your site to their visitors.  After all, that's all that a link is -- or is
supposed to be:  a recommendation.  It's important to note that you don't
need to be looking for links from sites that sell or offer the same stuff
you do.  That would just be silly.  You want people to recommend your site
because it complements the stuff they offer on their own sites.

Let's take the types of sites you mentioned (car wheels, women's shoes, and
printers) and brainstorm a little bit about whom the target audience is,
what other sites they might be visiting, and what other types of products
they might be purchasing.

Who buys car wheels? Well, people with cars for one thing!  Additionally,
people who need new wheels because perhaps they wrecked their old ones.  And
perhaps, people who want better, fancier wheels.  Those are 3 distinct
target markets, with some overlap of course.  But if you just take the first
market, those with cars, it opens up zillions of possibilities in terms of
people who might want to purchase your car wheels.  There are hundreds of
thousands of sites that target people with cars.  If your site has the best,
cheapest, coolest, most unique (or whatever) car wheels around, plenty of
those car-type sites might be happy to link to your site, or at least to
sell you an ad on their site that points to yours.

To narrow it down further with the second target audience -- people who
wrecked their old wheels and now need new ones -- they may also be
purchasing other car parts to go with their broken wheels.  Maybe there are
sites out there that sell car bumpers or other car parts, but not the
wheels.  Those site owners may very well be looking for a great wheel site
to send people to.

And for the third possible target audience -- people who want fancier wheels
-- those types of people might very well be looking for more than just fancy
car wheels.  Maybe they also would like fancy steering wheels, or
stick-shift covers, or whatever.  Sites that sell other fancy car parts (but
not the wheels) might be only too happy to recommend your great car wheel

Same thing with women's shoes.  Do you know many women who just buy shoes
and nothing to go with them?

And I don't know anyone who has a printer with no computer!

I hope this illustrates that once you start to think about the target market
and what else they might want or like, it gets a lot easier to figure out
who might link to your site.   The possibilities are usually limitless!